IF you pay for goods or a service but do not receive those goods or that service, in nearly every walk of life, you are entitled to a refund.

In Wales at the moment, there’s a Sky broadband outage, and the regulator Ofcom’s rule is that if the service is not fixed after two working days, customers should receive automatic compensation.

And yet here in the North East, the BBC is saying that customers will have to be without a TV signal from the Bilsdale mast for more than a month, and then they will have to jump through several additional hoops, before they receive compensation.

It is not right. It is not fair.

To make matters worse, people have no choice but to pay the licence fee. They have to pay for something they are not receiving, or they could face prosecution. They cannot withdraw their custom in protest.

Many people, who will receive no compensation under the BBC’s current scheme, are paying full whack but receiving only half a service via the internet.

And to make matters even worse, it is the eldest and most vulnerable – those for whom television and radio services are their window onto the world – who are being hit hardest.

Politicians of all hues can see the inherent unfairness in this and have joined The Northern Echo’s campaign.

No one blames the BBC for the fire at the mast. But people are, increasingly, as the lack of service drags on, blaming it for the slow and unfair manner in which it is handling the aftermath.