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Virgin Media could face huge compensation bill as internet outages enter second day

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Virgin Media could be headed for a hefty compensation bill after broadband outages appeared to continue into a second day on Wednesday (April 5).

Thousands of Virgin customers first started reporting problems with their connections in the early of hours of Tuesday morning, with signal tracking site DownDetector reporting a spike of around 50,000 outage reports shortly after 1am

Virgin confirmed that customers had been left without service – even the company’s own corporate website was down at one point – but said normal services were restored by mid-morning:

The provider’s services were down for at least eight hours with many users complaining they were unable to get access to the internet.

Later, however, DownDetector reported a second spike in outages around 5pm, with around 55,000 reports. Virgin soon after confirmed that a repeat of the earlier issue had caused “intermittent outages” for “some users”:

On Wednesday, however, some users were still complaining of no service, and getting less polite in doing so:

New reports with DownDetector were down to the high hundreds by Wednesday lunchtime, but still very much in evidence, and with the outages continuing into a second day, Virgin Media could be looking at some hefty compensation payouts.

Virgin is signed up to Ofcom’s automatic compensation scheme, launched in April 2019. It means that broadband and landline customers will automatically receive a refund of £9.33 per day from their provider when things go wrong without having to ask for compensation. The catch is, the scheme only kicks in if services have not been fully restored after two full working days, which would seem to give the broadband provider around four hours by most definitions of a “full working day.”

Even if we assume that 55,000 outage figure from 5pm Tuesday was the same people reporting spikes earlier, at £9.33 for two days Virgin could potentially be looking at a compensation bill of just over £1m, and that’s assuming Virgin have it fixed by tomorrow. The outages come after Virgin, along with many other telecoms companies hiked broadband and mobile bills this month. Virgin Media customers with broadband, landline and TV will typically see prices go up by 13.8% on average from April or May.

It’s not been the best week for Virgin. While customers in the UK were struggling to get online yesterday, Richard Branson was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for Virgin Orbit in the US, after last-ditch efforts to find funding for his struggling space exploration firm fell through.

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