Compensation for Breach of Contract

I have a question regarding what sort of compensation is reasonable from multiple consequences resulting from breaches of Contract by a Broadband company.

I upgraded from Copper to Full-fibre in December 2022.

A blockage in the BT duct slowed installation and at the start of May, Openreach told me I had to dig my own 160m long trench with access ports and install my own Ducting and draw cord or they could do it for £5,000.

On the 15th May, after I had dug the trench and started laying ducting, the Full Fibre contract was cancelled and Openreach Engineers withdrawn without notice because Vodafone had refused to pay Openreach for exceeding the cost associated with the work done outside my property to date.

On 29th June, again without notice, our Copper Broadband line was ceased and pulled, disconnecting us from broadband and landline (which was used a lot), preventing us from ever using the copper line again therefore preventing us asking a competitor to install Broadband. 3G/4G signal at our house varies from Zero to 800kbps (useless), leaving us pretty much isolated communication wise.

As Openreach had withdrawn their engineers from the Full Fibre installation and as they were the only available installer in our area for Full Fibre Broadband, we were stuck as to what to do.

Vodafone refused to do anything to get us back up and running even after we alerted them to the necessity for us to have Broadband for essential Medical Device connection. 

Eventually we got BT to take over from Vodafone and got Full Fibre installed 5 weeks later and land line reconnected 2 months after that!!!

I contacted CISAS who favoured part of my claim and recommended £200 compensation for a breach of contract. Some automatic compensation was paid for not installing by 11th January 2023 as required by OFCOM. 

Does £200 seem reasonable for 50+ hours labour, machinery costs, doing without:- internet, land line, mobile phone inside the house (we need wifi-calling at home), OnDemand TV, Netflix, Disney+,  AppleTV, Kid’s Xbox Ultimate connecting with friends, Kid’s Gaming consoles, Internet browsing, online learning, home security, Zoom, Banking, Apple Fitness and other paid subscription apps, etc and most importantly 5 weeks without medical device alerts from our child during the night for the first 5 weeks of the summer holidays, not to mention the 2 breaches of contract?

I look forward to hear some thoughts on the matter.

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  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 29,924
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    Compensation for inconvenience will inevitably be fairly subjective, but did you incur any tangible financial losses?  What parts of your claim did CISAS not favour?
  • ArbitraryRandom
    ArbitraryRandom Posts: 2,338
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    edited 30 November 2023 at 1:39AM
    I assume the automatic compensation will have been for some of the inconvenience you are reporting - and that will have been factored in to the CISAS decision?

    Generally speaking if you choose to undertake labour for your own benefit you can't charge for it at market rate - you would have been in a better position if you had paid the money for Openreach to do the work and could demonstrate you were now out of pocket as a result. 

    Part of the challenge is likely that some of the issues aren't related to a contract between you and 
    Vodafone, but as a consequence of actions taken related to a contract between Vodafone and Openreach.

    I am assuming (please correct me) that your contract with Vodafone was to provide a Broadband service for a period of time - and that after the install had completed you would have signed up for a full fibre service - so the losses will likely have been based on the number of months remaining on the existing contract and an amount for the distress caused. As such, without knowing the terms of this contract, it's hard to say if the £200 is a reasonable award or not.  
    I'm not an early bird or a night owl; I’m some form of permanently exhausted pigeon.
  • littleboo
    littleboo Posts: 1,468
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    Was the service still delivered using the ducting you had installed? (presumably this is across your land?)  How much was the automatic compensation?
  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,305
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    Did you have to pay for all the internet access during that period?  i.e. £10 a month to Netflix etc  Even though you couldn't use it?  That would be an itemised list that could be put together as a financial loss.
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • Aylesbury_Duck
    Aylesbury_Duck Posts: 13,797
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    edited 30 November 2023 at 9:58AM
    Brian_s said:

    I have a question regarding what sort of compensation is reasonable from multiple consequences resulting from breaches of Contract by a Broadband company.

    I upgraded from Copper to Full-fibre in December 2022.

    A blockage in the BT duct slowed installation and at the start of May, Openreach told me I had to dig my own 160m long trench with access ports and install my own Ducting and draw cord or they could do it for £5,000.

    On the 15th May, after I had dug the trench and started laying ducting, the Full Fibre contract was cancelled and Openreach Engineers withdrawn without notice because Vodafone had refused to pay Openreach for exceeding the cost associated with the work done outside my property to date.

    On 29th June, again without notice, our Copper Broadband line was ceased and pulled, disconnecting us from broadband and landline (which was used a lot), preventing us from ever using the copper line again therefore preventing us asking a competitor to install Broadband. 3G/4G signal at our house varies from Zero to 800kbps (useless), leaving us pretty much isolated communication wise.

    As Openreach had withdrawn their engineers from the Full Fibre installation and as they were the only available installer in our area for Full Fibre Broadband, we were stuck as to what to do.

    Vodafone refused to do anything to get us back up and running even after we alerted them to the necessity for us to have Broadband for essential Medical Device connection. 

    Eventually we got BT to take over from Vodafone and got Full Fibre installed 5 weeks later and land line reconnected 2 months after that!!!

    I contacted CISAS who favoured part of my claim and recommended £200 compensation for a breach of contract. Some automatic compensation was paid for not installing by 11th January 2023 as required by OFCOM. 

    Does £200 seem reasonable for 50+ hours labour, machinery costs, doing without:- internet, land line, mobile phone inside the house (we need wifi-calling at home), OnDemand TV, Netflix, Disney+,  AppleTV, Kid’s Xbox Ultimate connecting with friends, Kid’s Gaming consoles, Internet browsing, online learning, home security, Zoom, Banking, Apple Fitness and other paid subscription apps, etc and most importantly 5 weeks without medical device alerts from our child during the night for the first 5 weeks of the summer holidays, not to mention the 2 breaches of contract?

    I look forward to hear some thoughts on the matter.

    160 metres?  Good work, that's a lot of effort and I can see why you're miffed about it going to waste.

    The trouble with your case as I see it is that you willingly undertook that work, so the labour 'cost' and machinery costs were probably incurred independently of your contract with the provider.  I don't suppose there's anything that mentions it contractually?

    As for the other costs, a lot of them can be mitigated by pausing subscriptions, certainly things like TV subscriptions, so the question would be why did you continue to incur cost for something you couldn't access?  With things like home  security and medical device alerts, nothing actually came of the lack of connection, did it?  You can't claim for what might have happened.

    You have two elements of claim.  Actual costs incurred (which look tricky to evidence) and goodwill for the inconvenience, which they've already offered.

    Edited to add:  A third element is if you paid anything to an ISP when there was no service.
  • Thanks for the replies everyone. I’ll try to answer each of your questions:-


    Eskbanker:- I wasn’t too worried about the financial losses - they were just part of the overall terrible service I received from both Vodafone and Openreach. I was actually offsetting the hire of the machinery (about £600) to dig the trench with the Auto compensation I was to receive for not getting the Full-Fibre installed in January. The auto compensation was to be paid prior to the cancellation of the Full Fibre installation and also prior to the  Disconnection of the copper line. 


    CISAS did not favour with the inconvenience/stress caused by the Total loss of service from 29th June until 21st September and that the verbal contract that I had with Openreach to connect Fibre to my house after I did all the onsite work was a contract with Openreach and not Vodafone. CISAS cannot favour a customer’s time spent in relation to the case.


    CISAS also state that “the evidence identifies a number of failures in the duty of care owed, including, for example, delay, a failure to liaise effectively with Openreach, termination of the contract without notice, a failure to apply the correct OFCOM auto-compensation due, missed communication opportunities - and it is noted that the customer has had to contact the company on a large number of occasions about the issues. I consider these issues to be evidence of a failure in the duty of care owed. I consider further that the customer’s son’s vulnerable status will, naturally, have aggravated the inconvenience caused. As the evidence indicates that the company did fail in the duty of care owed, I find that an award of compensation is justified.


    In my consideration as to what level of award is reasonable, I have taken into account the number of shortfalls/failures and their severity alongside the CISAS Guide to Compensation for Inconvenience and Distress; however, reiterate that I cannot award for a customer’s time per se. As I consider some of the failures to be significant and as I consider that the failures were aggravated by the customer’s son’s vulnerable status, on balance, I consider a sum of £200.00 to be reasonable and award this sum to the customer as compensation for the failure(s) in the duty of care owed. 


    My conclusion on the main issues is that: 

      • The company has broken a term of the contract and has failed in the duty of care owed.
      • The customer has provided sufficient evidence to justify the claim in part.

    Therefore, my decision is that the customer’s claim succeeds in part and I direct the company to pay/credit the customer £499.94 as compensation. (£200 for failures in the duty of care owed and £299.94 in Auto-compensation.)



    ArbitraryRandom: Yes, the automatic compensation was specifically regarding the service not being up and running when they said it would I.e. by 11th January 2023. Again, I was happier to undertake the work at the time rather than pay £33.00 per meter x 160m (possibly plus VAT!) for Openreach to install it. 

    My main issues stem from Vodafone cancelling our current Broadband line and removing it from use without the required notice period of 30 days as outlined in our contract. It is from this moment on and the consequences and stresses caused that I am looking compensation for. 


    We had an ongoing contract with Vodafone for a few years to provide us with broadband over the copper line and continued to pay them £47 per month for the service. This was what was terminated on 29th June. Apparently, according to Openreach, Vodafone had issued a ‘cessation of line’ order in May, possible assuming that the Full Fibre would have been installed by then, even though no fibre had been laid at that stage. Nothing was done by Vodafone to rectify this order and Openreach have distanced themselves from any blame and have laid the blame solely with Vodafone as the broadband provider.

    I suppose where I am coming from is that if Vodafone had done what they said they would do on the 11th January 2023, we would be fine. This was when the Copper Broadband would be replaced by Full-Fibre. It was meant to be a free upgrade (actually £12 per month cheaper), but then Openreach found a Bubble in the BT duct - something they said BT put in to prevent gases coming up the line - and couldn’t use that line. The Duct was installed in 2004 - so not very old!

    Then, when Openreach had exceeded their spend for ‘trying’ to unblock the duct, and cancelled the contract, Vodafone said that if we wanted to get broadband installed, we would have to 'bear the extra cost to finish the install'! I.e. Hire a company to block off the road, dig up the road, lay the ducting under the road, tarmac the road, hire Openreach engineers to connect from the pole on the road up to our home! That would be rather expensive to do!!!


    Littleboo: We were still paying for all our internet services that we could not access. In total that was only about £75


    Aylesbury_Duck: Yes, I did undertake the work, albeit not willingly, but rather than pay out £5,000+ for the privilege!!! 

    The only Openreach contract that I had was a recording of a verbal contract regarding the onsite work was of a conversation with the Openreach engineer who said they would connect us with fibre once I did all the onsite work. I had dug the trench and was half way through laying the duct when I got the email stating that the contract for installing the Full-Fibre was cancelled and Openreach Engineers were withdrawn.

    Regarding the subscriptions, we had no idea at the time if we could get up and running again the next week or not!  I had no idea why Vodafone couldn’t just flick a switch and reconnect our copper line. Most subscriptions run until the next payment was up, so at the time wasn’t known to us as to when we would get back online. To be honest, it was the least of our worries.


    You’re right that nothing serious came of the lack of connection but that’s not really the point. The point is that during those 5 weeks without the alerts, Potentially very serious consequences could have arisen due to our inability to receive lifesaving medical alert alarms in order to mitigate against potential life threatening consequences, and we adjusted our life accordingly - hence the ‘lack of sleep’! On the day the broadband was disconnected, we did not receive any data from the medical device that night. That was also when we realised that we relied on wifi calling for our mobile phones inside the house. I suppose your point is similar to saying ‘What’s the point in having a house alarm if you haven’t been burgled yet! Or why wear a heart attack alarm connected to a neighbour or loved one if you haven’t had a heart attack yet! We would normally be alerted several times per week during the night. The claim was partially for what could have happened, but mainly by having life seriously disrupted by not having the safety net that Broadband and Mobile technology gave us. This was taken away when broadband was disconnected. 

    Also, would anyone like to give up their internet access for a month and receive the monthly cost in return? Yes, we should be recompensed for the subscriptions paid, but it’s more that the ability to access those services being taken from you is most annoying. 

    Sorry for the rant. Just trying to see if you see things from our point of view!


    CISAS said that they do not deal with this side of the case - the non-tangible issues - and I was wondering if Small Claims would be an option!


  • Brian_s said:
    I suppose your point is similar to saying ‘What’s the point in having a house alarm if you haven’t been burgled yet! Or why wear a heart attack alarm connected to a neighbour or loved one if you haven’t had a heart attack yet! 


    No. It's similar to saying "your house may have caught fire due to a faulty cooker last Tuesday, but it didn't."

    Your example is like saying "why bother to have safe appliances if your house hasn't burned down yet?"

    Very different things.


  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 29,924
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    Brian_s said:

    CISAS said that they do not deal with this side of the case - the non-tangible issues - and I was wondering if Small Claims would be an option!

    IMHO no, small claims would generally be for recovering quantifiable debts, not resolving customer service disputes.
  • I agree, I can't see what you'd claim for in a court claim.

    And no, I wouldn't like to give up my internet access for a month and receive the monthly cost in return, but internet access isn't a right either, so if for whatever reason a provider couldn't or wouldn't supply to me, that's just my problem to deal with.  While I can see how important access is to your household for the medical reasons, that also means it would be sensible for you to have some sort of contingency for those occasions where the connection may fail or be intermittent.  Whether that's a system that can operate on a copper line if needs be (an elderly relative of mine has such a back-up), or a dongle with a carrier that does have some connectivity in that region, I suggest you look into it.  It sounds like you're in a rural area, so even with a connection, there's a risk it might be fragile.
  • I agree, I can't see what you'd claim for in a court claim.

    And no, I wouldn't like to give up my internet access for a month and receive the monthly cost in return, but internet access isn't a right either, so if for whatever reason a provider couldn't or wouldn't supply to me, that's just my problem to deal with.  While I can see how important access is to your household for the medical reasons, that also means it would be sensible for you to have some sort of contingency for those occasions where the connection may fail or be intermittent.  Whether that's a system that can operate on a copper line if needs be (an elderly relative of mine has such a back-up), or a dongle with a carrier that does have some connectivity in that region, I suggest you look into it.  It sounds like you're in a rural area, so even with a connection, there's a risk it might be fragile.
    Thanks for the advice. 

    I understand that internet access isn't a right, but as a paying customer in a 'supposedly' legally binding contract, I thought I should be paid compensation relative to the consequences arising by the breach of contract. The contract stated that I should receive 30 days notice before cancelling. If the service disconnects, the provider has to do all they can to get me reconnected as soon as possible. In our case, this should have been to pay Openreach to finish what they started. They didn't. BT however could and did - albeit 4 weeks later!! 
    As it was a supposed 'Technical error' in providing Openreach with a Cessation Order for  our Copper line without first making sure the Fibre was installed first, they should make up for it as soon as possible. They didn't do this either.
    Our contingency plan for when broadband went down was to have our mobile phones connect to the Medical Device. Unfortunately, all our mobile phones were with the same provider - Vodafone Mobile! When we asked Vodafone Mobile to release us from our contract to move to a very slightly better signal provider,  Vodafone said no unless we pay £378 in early release charge. They eventually said yes after contacting CISAS!! 
    We are in a very rural area and being down a bit of a dip doesn't help! 
    The copper line is no longer viable as I mentioned Vodafone placed the order to have this line ceased and removed! This was apparently an Openreach plan to have all copper replaced by Fibre by 2025!!

    So, finally, with regards to my original question, you would agree with the decision of CISAS and that I should accept the £200 compensation for the TLOS and its consequences and think it would be pointless to continue it further?
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