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Poor Service Costs UK Phone, Broadband and Mobile Providers £2.68bn

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 (9:20 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 380)
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The annual report from Ombudsman Services, which is one of Ofcom’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) handlers for consumer broadband, phone and mobile complaints, has revealed that UK people made 55 million complaints during 2016 and 13% were telecoms related.

According to the 2017 Consumer Action Monitor (CAM) report, consumers in the United Kingdom aren’t afraid to vote with their feet when they experience poor service. Last year 19% decided to take their business elsewhere due to poor service, while others (15%) made a conscious decision to spend less with a brand in future. All of this can be costly to businesses.

The study claims that companies from across multiple sectors (energy, retail, telecoms etc.) missed out on an estimated total of £37 billion due to the impact of poor service in 2016, with complaints about telecoms services (broadband, phone and mobile) accounting for £2.98 billion of the total.

Disillusionment is also said to be “rife in sectors where consumers have limited choice in supplier, or have been tied into lengthy contracts“, such as Rail, where people usually only have no choice in provider, and Telecommunications, where contracts are often long-term (up to a limit of 24 months). Some 18% of telecoms consumers said they were resigned to poor service.

Report Extract

Poor experiences of complaining to a company can leave many feeling helpless, and puts them off raising issues in future. One in seven (14%) said they feel disillusioned with business, and don’t feel complaining will have any real impact, while 17 per cent of those who had an issue did nothing about it because they had complained previously and nothing improved.

Overall the most common sectors for complaints were Retail (24% – 13.1 million), Telecoms (13% – 6.9 million), Energy (10% – 5.5 million) and Public Transport (7% – 4 million). However the good news is that telecoms related complaints have seen a sharp reduction from the 8.3 million reported during 2015, when the sector accounted for 16% of the total.

complaints by sector 2016

The national UK telecoms regulator requires that all broadband ISPs become members of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. The schemes are designed to supplement (not replace) an ISPs own internal complaints procedures and are only used after a customer dispute has gone unresolved for 8 weeks (i.e. the “Deadlock Letter” stage).

2017 Consumer Action Monitor
https://www.ombudsman-services.org/downloads/Consumer-action-monitor-report-2017.pdf

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4 Responses
  1. Chris

    Well, Vodafone mobile are trying my patience at the moment. I have made an official complaint but I suspect that will be treated in the same tardy way as all my support calls. All I want to proof of purchase from them so I can get my mobile phone repaired.

    • Chris

      Well, I have my proof of purchase now and to be fair the complaints person was OK. She did knock off the cost of one month of my subscription for the faff caused. My employer pays my phone bill anyway, but the thought was there. Still, the general Vodafone service is hopeless.

  2. Steve Jones

    That £37bn estimate of lost business to the relevant sectors as whole is wildly misleading. Generally speaking, one company’s loss will be another’s gain (as CSM say, the loss is consumers “voting with their feet” – that is changing suppliers). Of course, there are costs in terms of customer churn, dealing with complaints and so on. There is an obvious issues for any company losing disproportionate amounts of business, but that headline figure is manifestly not the cost to the sector in total. It’s just a headline grabber.

  3. Stephen G

    “Voting with your feet” is the only way but ‘they’ only listen when it’s a lot of feet.
    After months of complaining about poor/no service from O2 I left, as did a few of my friends, on leaving I did get them to admit they’d turned off a mast near to where I live but I “shouldn’t have any problems”.
    Of course not, that’s until the other nearby mast needs fixing!

    Then the local N.H.S.trusts stepped in and ditched the shoddy O2 service and moved all their contracts to EE, just like all us little guys had done.
    Guess what? There’s a decent O2 signal again now round our way, too little too late!

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