Telecommunications: Fees and Charges

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Mick Whitley Mick Whitley Labour, Birkenhead

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of introducing statutory restrictions on the amount that telephone and broadband providers can charge customers in call-out and repair fees.

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Government is not currently considering restrictions on call-out and repair fees in telecoms. However, Ofcom, the independent telecoms regulator has a statutory duty to further the interests of consumers, and it has brought in a number of measures to protect consumers in relation to repairs and when things go wrong with their services.

For instance, in April 2019, Ofcom introduced a voluntary automatic compensation scheme, which BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Zen Internet, Utility Warehouse, and Hyperoptic have all signed up to. Through this scheme, customers of the companies that have signed up will automatically receive compensation for delayed repairs following loss of service (£8 for each calendar day); missed appointments by an engineer/cancellations with less than 24 hours notice (£25 per missed appointment) and delayed start of a service (£5 for each calendar day)

Furthermore, Ofcom obliges communication providers to prioritise repairs for disabled people, and to ensure that these charges are not higher than standard charges.

Alongside these measures, last year Ofcom also secured a set of ‘Fairness for Customers’ commitments from all the major communication providers. These commitments are designed to embed a culture of fairness within the industry. For instance, providers have committed to give their customers fair deals, and provide the support needed by their vulnerable customers. Ofcom will be publishing a report on industry progress against these commitments in Q4 2020/21.

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