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Ofcom Q2 2016 Report – BT Broadband Attracts the Most Complaints

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 (12:24 pm) - Score 2,059

Good news, Ofcom’s latest Q2 2016 consumer complaints report finds that the total volume of UK Telecoms (mobile, broadband and phone) and Pay TV complaints has declined. Sadly some ISPs have fared better than others, with BT coming out top of the worst for fixed line home broadband.

The national UK telecoms regulator claims to receive nearly 300 complaints per day, although their report only focuses upon the market’s largest providers (i.e. those with an overall market share of at least 1.5%) and that’s simply because the smallest operators don’t produce enough data.

Crucially this data only reflects complaints that have been made directly to Ofcom, rather than the ISP directly (e.g. users that have not been able to resolve a complaint directly via their ISP), which means that it doesn’t provide a full overview of all the moans being made across the whole market.

Lindsey Fussell, Director of Ofcom’s Consumer Group, said:

“We expect providers to make customer service and complaints handling top priorities. While complaints have gone down, providers must work harder to better serve their customers.

Consumers have a right to expect good service and will rightfully complain when that standard isn’t met. If companies do fall short, we will step in and investigate, which can lead to significant fines.”

Take note that the results themselves are reflected as a proportion of residential subscribers (i.e. the total number of quarterly complaints per 100,000 customers), which makes it easier to compare providers in a market where the big operators can vary significantly in size.

Fixed Line Home Broadband Complaints

Happily we can start off by saying that both Virgin Media and Sky Broadband continued to attract the fewest complaints from consumers, just as they have done for the past few years. Meanwhile all of the other ISPs saw their complaint volumes fall in the second quarter, with EE and TalkTalk recording the sharpest drop (i.e. biggest improvement).

The story may not be so good for BT, which failed to reduce its complaint volumes fast enough and thus finds itself being named as the most complained about of all. However Ofcom’s “sensitivity checks” also suggest that Plusnet’s performance may in fact “be comparable to BT’s” (they come lower in the table below), which is apparently due to the unspecified differences in how operators compile their subscriber figures.

Never the less BT’s main complaint drivers were related to faults, service and provision issues; issues with billing, pricing, and charges; and complaint handling.


Fixed Line Phone Complaints

Consumer complaints about fixed line phone services have also experienced a reduction, which is good news, although strictly speaking TalkTalk still managed to attract the most gripes. But in reality we don’t think it would be fair to single TalkTalk out too much since BT, EE, Plusnet and the Post Office all demonstrated a roughly similar level of unhappy customers.

TalkTalk’s main complaint drivers were issues with billing, pricing and charges; fault, service and provision; and complaint handling. Meanwhile Virgin Media and Sky once again benefitted by receiving the fewest overall complaints from consumers.


Mobile Complaints

The story for mobile operators is much the same, although Vodafone continues to remain head and shoulders above everybody else in terms of complaints received. Most of the gripes they received related to issues about billing, pricing and charges; complaints handling; and fault, service and provision issues.


Pay TV Complaints

Finally we come to Pay TV and it’s no huge surprise to find that the most complained about operator is still BT, which has hovered around the same level for the best part of two years now. Meanwhile TalkTalk has reported a consistent improvement and is now much closer to the industry average, which tends to be where Virgin Media hangs out.

As before the best result was experienced by Sky, which has continued to hold a low and virtually flat level of consumer complaints since as far back as we can remember.


Ofcom’s Complaints Report Q2 2016

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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
11 Responses
  1. mike says:

    Sky seams to be the best according to those stats, ive been with plusnet for 6 years now and the support and fibre services have gone downhill i no longer recomend plusnet to friends or family.
    I think its time to move to a new provider!!!

  2. Data Analysis says:

    Congratulations to Sky and Virgin 🙂

  3. Bob2002 says:

    I worry about some of BT’s customers. A lot of people who don’t know much about broadband and ISPs will simply go for a well known brand – that will include many of older people. I struggled to deal with the poor customer service when I was a BT customer – 15-20 minute wait times typically, foreign call centres – how would a pensioner cope with those sort of hurdles?

    1. Bob2002 says:

      *many older people

  4. col says:

    The best thing would be to sell off BT retail not Openreach.

  5. GNewton says:

    Some people don’t like the truth because of their irrationally emotional attachment to BT, but Ofcom’s findings reported here are agreement with many other review sites, such as Trustpilot, Thinkbroadband, ISPReview, or even BT’s own business forum. The same issues have been plaguing this company for many years now, and even with Ofcom’s stricter targets set for BT to improve its customer service nothing much has changed so far.

    Perhaps a separation of Openreach and BT Retail (maybe even BT Wholesale, too) might be a step in the right direction, though the BT shareholders won’t like it.

  6. Dumb argument says:

    Maybe knowing now its official more people complain about BT than any other firm will now stop the mad tirade of abuse towards Talk Talk from certain individuals due to the hacking. Then again maybe not and Talk Talk and every other firm will still be the epitome of evil service to customers despite evidence to show otherwise.

  7. Anjali Martin says:

    BT customer service is the worst ever. I bought a Smarthub. The internet continuously drops out which never happened with the old BT router. There is definitely a design flaw. They were only interested in sending me an engineer if I agreed to pay £120 should the engineer deem the fault as mine. Otherwise there was no contrition over selling me a faulty product. They don’t acknowledge any responsibility for their own equipment. NEVER go to BT.

  8. Ray says:

    For the UK to be in the fast lane as an innovative and international trading nation we need a super fast reliable broadband for every business and every home in the UK . So far BT has failed to deliver the super fast and reliable fibre optics for the UK to be right at the forefront on the world stage, and for this to happen BT must be brushed aside and dedicated new companies must be assigned to implement fast changes providing a reliable super fast a 21st century high speed fibre optics broadband, BT is a hindrance on keeping the UK’s economy in the fast lane therefor it must be changed.

  9. Wise Old Owl says:

    It’s not the volume of staff that makes the difference, it’s the quality and the approach taken to deliver it. BT will never make headway by chucking bodies at this. Must change the inherent cultures and attitudes within the group first.

  10. Why can Plusnet advertise best customer service when Ofcom show they are below average? Surely this is a lie, misleading and illegal? What are Ofcom going to do to stop this advertising?

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