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The Top UK Consumer Complaints for Each Major Broadband ISP

Thursday, July 18th, 2019 (8:37 am) - Score 4,306
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A new survey of 3,807 consumers by Which? has revealed the top consumer complaints for each of the UK markets largest TV and broadband ISPs. Overall the study found that 70% had experienced an “issue” with their provider and customers of cable operator Virgin Media were the most likely to have had problems.

Right off the bat we should caveat that the aforementioned 70% figure needs to be taken with a pinch of salt because Which? has not balanced this against a time-scale (i.e. if we all looked back over our entire history of broadband provision then we’d probably find something to moan about).

On top of that it’s noted how 44% of all respondents had a gripe with price increases, which is likely to inflate the figures since every single one of the ISPs mentioned has a history of price rises (these tend to be done annually), which are never popular. On the other hand only 4% of Plusnet’s customers seem to have had a cause to complain about prices, even though they do raise them each year.

Meanwhile 1 in 6 respondents said they suffered “frequent internet connection drop outs” and “very slow broadband speeds.” Sadly there wasn’t enough feedback to include Vodafone and the Post Office in the results below, although admittedly they don’t offer a Pay TV service and Which? seems to have included gripes about that alongside broadband issues below (without making a clear distinction between the two).

We’ve re-ordered the results below to show providers with the most complaints at the top and their categorised gripes underneath.

The Top Complaints by Broadband and TV Provider

1. Virgin Media
58% – Price increases
14% – Frequent drop outs
10% – Very slow speeds
19% – Left without a connection
10% – Problems with equipment
9% – Problems contacting provider

2. BT
36% – Price increases
19% – Frequent drop outs
16% – Very slow speeds
7% – Left without a connection
10% – Problems with equipment
9% – Problems contacting provider

3. Sky Broadband
34% – Price increases
17% – Frequent drop outs
25% – Very slow speeds
9% – Left without a connection
11% – Problems with equipment
8% – Problems contacting provider

4. TalkTalk
20% – Price increases
23% – Frequent drop outs
25% – Very slow speeds
9% – Left without a connection
12% – Problems with equipment
9% – Problems contacting provider

5. Plusnet
4% – Price increases
17% – Frequent drop outs
13% – Very slow speeds
7% – Left without a connection
2% – Problems with equipment
24% – Problems contacting provider

6. EE
8% – Price increases
11% – Frequent drop outs
11% – Very slow speeds
8% – Left without a connection
19% – Problems with equipment
3% – Problems contacting provider

We find it interesting that Sky Broadband attracted so many gripes, not least since Ofcom’s own study of consumer broadband complaints shows that they almost consistently attracted fewer gripes than any of the other big ISPs (see below for Ofcom’s latest complaints table to the end of 2018); this tends to be the same for their Pay TV service too.

We’d be interested to see how the results balanced out if price increases were removed as a factor because BT, Sky and Virgin Media all suffer more than most from those. On this point we note that at the start of this year BT announced their future prices will increase by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and that they would not hike broadband, landline and mobile prices in 2019 (here); they didn’t mention Pay TV.

However prior to BT’s pricing announcement the operator had built up a long history of raising their prices every 9 months, which was particularly galling since for standard and superfast broadband packages they tend to be one of the more expensive options (particularly when you factor their hefty post-contract prices). On the other hand BT do include a lot of premium service features (cloud storage, access to WiFi hotspots etc.).

Ofcom’s Q4 2018 Complaints Table (Broadband)

fixed line uk broadband isp complaints Q4 2018

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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.
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5 Responses
  1. Avatar PR

    Mark
    I think that the usual pinch of salt has to be downgraded to a molecule with this biased report, given the small sample size and the kind punters who sign upto WHICH who are probably the biased moaners in sample group. Just cannot take this kind of thing seriously. If these people stopped signing upto WHICH they could afford the inherent annual price rises more comfortably. Who pays £9.75 a month???????

  2. Avatar CarlT

    Which? You could deliver those guys 1Gb FTTP for a tenner a month and they’d find something to complain about. Then God help you if you wanted to increase the price slightly due to the 40-ish% per year increase in usage or, you know, because staff would rather like a pay increase to handle increased cost of living.

    The price rises category shouldn’t be there at all IMHO. It makes this already shaky data worthless.

  3. Avatar FibreBubble

    Apart from technical testing such as TBB’s which has some credibility. These things are just a bit of fun.

    Indeed this site’s ‘Best UK Home Broadband Choices 2019’ article, for example, is based on even less data than Which. In fact it is based on no data whatsoever!

  4. Avatar Ron Mobbs

    It’s also interesting (once you strip out the commercial aspect) to note the similarity of the “left without connection” statistics, which will largely down to local loop BT connection faults. I always thought this would be the weakest link in the BB system, but I note that Virgin, who should be better than BT with their own cable into the house, their reliability is considerably worse, which is very disappointing. Outside the local loop connection problems, the problems will be down to the specific suppliers

  5. Avatar David Platt

    My broadband (71-72Mb/s) is cheaper now than 3 years ago. Not difficult to achieve with a bit of effort. Check a competitor, check what your current ISP is offering new customers and then politely remind them that your loyalty doesn’t seem to be valued. Remind them that if you move and come back 12 months later you will then get the new sign up rates! But above all, be prepared to move.

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