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Do UK Broadband ISPs Try to Hide Complaint Contacts and ADR Info

Friday, December 27th, 2013 (1:47 am) - Score 1,789

Sky Broadband

It didn’t take long for us to find the ‘Complaints’ page on Sky’s main website because the link was made immediately visible by hovering our mouse over their primary ‘Help and Support’ menu, which took as to a ‘How to complain to Sky‘ page that included all of the appropriate contact details and also linked through to Sky’s Complaint Code.

The ‘Contact Us’ page, which was listed at the bottom of the site and under the help section, also made it similarly very easy to find a ‘Make a complaint‘ page but oddly this didn’t include any link to the complaints code and only offered the option of a live chat, phone call or email (no postal address like the main complaints page). It should be noted that typing ‘Complaints’ into the websites main search box also takes people to this page.

Summary:

Sky’s approach was simple, informative and their complaints code appeared to cover all of the necessary areas. The only gripes we had were that the drop-down menu was sometimes overlooked (this makes the content harder to find) and far too many links took us to Sky’s simplified ‘Make a complaint’ contact page, which doesn’t contain any information about to their code or include the relevant postal address.

Virgin Media

The first stop we made was to Virgin’s primary ‘Help’ page, which made no mention of complaints and after clicking around awhile we eventually spotted a ‘Contact Us‘ link lower down on the right side (this is the same ‘Contact Us’ link that appears if you scroll to the very bottom of the website and is similarly easy to overlook).

After a bit of clicking around on the ‘Contact Us’ page we uncovered several complaint types mentioned under the ‘General Enquiry’ option, which included one that opened a new window for Virgin’s Complaints Code. However we noted that the code itself, which provided all the correct information, was presented as a PDF file download and not on a webpage.

It should be said that typing ‘complaints’ into the websites main search box also offered a link to Virgin’s complaints code but take note that the relevant link actually goes (at the time of writting) to an out of date copy of the code with a different ADR handlers address.

Summary:

The experience of finding the correct complaints info. was arguably more convoluted then it should have been but it didn’t take too long to dig it out. However we see no reason not to put the code into a simple web page instead of a PDF file and the search engine returned an out-of-date version of the code with a different ADR address. Ideally the ‘contact’ section should also be more prominently displayed.

TalkTalk

The main ‘Help’ page link on TalkTalk’s website made no mention of complaints and we struggled to find anything of relevance. Similarly the ISPs ‘Contact Us’ page, while useful for most things, didn’t offer a clear option for making complaints.

But after a lot of clicking around we finally found a link for the ‘Customer Complaints Code‘ at the very bottom of TalkTalk’s website in smaller text, which took us to a ‘How do I make a complaint?’ page. As usual the complaints page itself appeared to cover all of the necessary aspects.

Finally, typing ‘complaints’ into the search box on the help page displayed a link to the same section but take note that the front page search box is different and only appears to search the Internet in general, which is perhaps a little confusing.

Summary:

TalkTalk could have made the complaints page easier to find (e.g. putting a clear link on the contact page) and its use of different internal search engines did more to confuse than help.

EE

The experience of attempting to use EE’s website can be summed up with one word, scrolling, and a lot of it because this is what their big-spaced-out-text-and-pictures format forces you to do nearly all of the time. It might be simple but this can easily turn to frustration once too much useful information gets stuffed below the fold of a page.

Surprisingly neither EE’s ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Help’ sections produced any easy to spot information about complaints and it was only after we entered ‘complaints’ into the Help page search system that the ‘How to make a complaint‘ page finally cropped up. Later we also came across the complaints code by scrolling right to the bottom of EE’s website and clicking through from the ‘Codes of practice’ section.

The complaints page itself listed various contact methods and like some others above it also forces you to download the complaints code as a PDF file, which does at least contain all of the primary bits of information.

Summary:

The code contains all of the necessary basics but EE could definitively do a better job of making the information easier to find, perhaps by listing a clear link on their Help or Contact page where you’d normally expect to find it. Once again we’re also surprised that the key info. is only available via a PDF download.

Zen Internet

Zen are often one of the highest rated providers and do a good job of making their support contacts easy to find. As a result we were not surprised to find that the link to their Complaints Procedure was found on their ‘Contact Us’ page, albeit right at the bottom, and that all the necessary information was then provided (without needing to download any additional PDF files).

Summary:

It didn’t take us long to find the correct details but there are still areas that Zen could improve. The ‘Complaint Procedure’ section should ideally be more prominently highlighted on their contacts page and could do with being similarly added to their ‘Help & Support’ section too.

PlusNet

PlusNet generally has a good track record for customer support and so we were a little surprised that they made no mention of a complaint policy on the first page of their ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Help & Support’ sections. However we did spot a link to their general PlusNet Code of Practice section and this went to a page that does link into the ISPs Complaints Code of Practice. Similarly the help page’s search engine also brought the code up after we typed ‘complain’ into the box.

The code itself was presented clearly via a new web page and provided all of the necessary details.

Summary:

The actual complaint page ticked all of the boxes but we still felt that PlusNet hadn’t made the related contact details and information easy enough to find. Even the general code of practice page berried it right down the list at no.12.

Conclusion & Tips

The first and most important thing to say here is that not one of the ISPs failed to include a complaint policy and in fact every single provider offered content that did an acceptable job of explaining the key points. On the other hand some providers appeared to make the information harder to find than others and there was some clear room for improvement.

In some cases we had to fiddle with the websites internal search engine to locate the necessary details, although not everybody will know to do this. For example, TalkTalk’s site had two different web-search systems and the primary one doesn’t appear to check their own website (confusing). In other cases we needed to scroll to the bottom of a page and or click through a variety of small-text links to find the right area.

The approach of sticking complaint policy’s behind an Adobe Reader (PDF) file, which was adopted by BT, Virgin Media and EE, also appears to be quite common. On the surface this might not seem like a big issue but not all systems support PDF out-of-the-box and even some of those that do don’t make it easy to use or navigate. We see no reason for not putting it directly onto a webpage.

Modern Internet providers have to cope with many different types of people and therefore should always consider how easy information is to find from the layman’s perspective. In the meantime we’ve been able to use this study to develop a few quick tips that others might find useful.

ISPreview.co.uk’s Top 5 Tips for Finding ISP Complaint Pages

1. Spend more and pick a good ISP because you’re less likely to complain if the service is working properly.

2. Try typing ‘complaint’, ‘adr’ or ‘how to make a complaint’ into the search box on your ISPs website.

3. Always check the ‘contacts’ or ‘help’ page first as many but not all ISPs will mention the policy there.

4. If you can’t find the contacts or legal terms/policy page(s) then try scrolling to the bottom of the website. Some ISPs seem to hide it as far down from your eyes as possible.

5. If you’re not sure who the ISPs ADR provider is then search their Terms & Conditions for words like ‘adr’, ‘complain’, ‘CISAS’ or ‘Ombudsman’ and you might get lucky. Alternatively you can check our ISP listings or ask Ofcom.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Not Adobe says:

    “policy’s behind an Adobe Reader (PDF) file”

    It’s not an Adobe Reader file, it’s a PDF file, there are many readers including Firefox, SumatraPDF, expertPDF, Foxit. Adobe reader is bloated and the biggest security risk out of all the readers if it isn’t kept updated.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      True but most people know it as an Adobe Reader file because Adobe created it and still maintain some proprietary control over a number of the technologies used.

  2. Avatar stoatwblr says:

    We should all know that Plusnet is simply a trading identity of BT, but it’d be nice if ISPreview and others pointed it out at least once in each review.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      PlusNet are owned by BT but they maintain a degree of autonomy and we do often point out that they’re part of the BT group. But it quickly becomes tiresome if we have to do that every single time an article is posted and in this instance it has no bearing.

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