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Bad News for TalkTalk and Post Office in Ofcom Complaints Study Q3 2017

Friday, January 19th, 2018 (9:46 am) - Score 3,038

The UK telecom regulator’s latest Q3 2017 consumer complaints report has named and shamed TalkTalk for attracting the most gripes in the fixed ISP broadband sector, while the Post Office suffered the same for landline phone services and Vodafone took the most heat for Mobile.

The report, which also examines Pay TV providers, notes that the overall level of consumer satisfaction with communications services is 88% for landline phone, 84% for broadband and 92% for mobile. Despite this Ofcom continues to receive “nearly250 complaints per day, although their study only includes feedback from the biggest providers (i.e. those with a market share of at least 1.5%).

The data itself is 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 largest ISPs can vary significantly in size. Overall the total volume of complaints across all service sectors hasn’t change much since Q2 2017.

Jane Rumble, Ofcom’s Director of Consumer Policy, said:

“We’re shining a light on how different providers perform, and it’s clear many need to up their game on service quality and complaints handling.

People expect high standards from their providers, and companies must put their customers first.”

Take note, today’s report only covers complaints that the regulator itself has received and not those sent directly to an ISP or ombudsman. Ofcom does not itself deal with individual complaints but they do monitor them and can take action if enough people raise a problem.

Consumers who are unable to resolve a complaint with their communications provider can (after 8 weeks) raise a case with one of the two ombudsman providers – Ombudsman Services: Communications or CISAS – under the Alternative Dispute Resolution process (they will investigate the issue at no cost to yourself).

Fixed Line Home Broadband Complaints

Traditionally the third quarter does tend to attract a spike in complaints, which can be partly attributed to that being the period when a lot of ISPs announce or introduce annual price rises and delays with new service provisions as students move into their accommodation. Otherwise TalkTalk’s main complaint drivers, as the ISP that received the most gripes, related to faults, service and provision issues.

A Spokesperson for TalkTalk said:

“We are obviously disappointed by these figures. Ofcom’s historical data covers a period last year (July – Sept) when we closed our customer service operations in India which caused some temporary disruption.

That move, and a radical shift to self serve is already delivering a material improvement in customer satisfaction and we expect complaint data for 2018 to reduce significantly.”

On the flip side EE continued to see their complaint volumes fall and they are now starting to challenge Sky Broadband as the ISP with the lowest level of consumer complaints, which is good to see. However Ofcom does note that EE failed provide their latest subscriber figures for this report and so the accuracy of their position might not be exact.

A Sky Spokesperson added:

“We’re pleased that Sky has again generated the fewest complaints [in Broadband, Talk and Pay TV], and we will continue to invest and innovate to ensure our customer service keeps getting even better.”


Fixed Line Phone Complaints

The same trends from fixed broadband can be seen below as they carry over into landline phone services, which is understandable since the two sides are often directly related. However on this chart we can see that the Post Office are the ones being put into Ofcom’s naughty corner after attracting the most complaints. The regulation said that this was largely driven by complaints related to PO’s acquisition of Fuel Broadband.

Meanwhile Sky Broadband, EE and Virgin Media remain below the industry average for complaint volumes, which in this case is a good thing. However Virgin Media are now at risk of leaving this area.


Mobile Complaints

Overall Vodafone remains the most complained about mobile network operator (top gripes related to billing, pricing and charges), although in fairness they’ve delivered a consistent quarter-on-quarter improvement during the past year and are now much closer to the industry average.


Pay TV Complaints

Sadly BT remains the most complained about Pay TV provider and their main complaint driver related, perhaps ironically, to trouble with complaints handling. However the operator has seen a gradual improvement and hopefully that continues.


Ofcom’s Complaints Report Q3 2017

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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
3 Responses
  1. Alex Bristol says:

    Any chance we can have statements from the industry associations MobileUK and ISPA? The ISPA should be concerned and proactive in reducing complaints for instance talking to the top three most complained about ISPs and looking at how the industry could learn and improve. It would be helpful to the UK public to know what work they are doing to help reduce complaints.

    1. Mike says:

      Knowing what TT/Vodafone are like…probably nothing.

  2. Groucho says:

    Credit where it’s due – we were with Fuel BB, and the changeover went smoothly enough for us. I was sorry to lose Fuel, as they did their best.

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