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Ofcom UK Shames Vodafone for Consumer Broadband Complaints

Friday, April 30th, 2021 (11:13 am) - Score 9,240
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Ofcom’s latest Q4 2020 consumer complaints report has today been published, which names and shames Vodafone for attracting the most gripes about fixed broadband and phone in the quarter, while iD Mobile and Three UK jointly did the same for Mobile and Virgin Media came bottom for Pay TV.

The following report only covers complaints that the regulator itself has received and not those sent directly to either an ISP, ISPA or one of the two ADR complaints handlers (i.e. Ombudsman Services or CISAS). Ofcom does not deal with individual complaints, but they do monitor them and can take action if enough people raise a concern.

NOTE: Ofcom received c.84,000 calls and items of correspondence directly from consumers in 2019/20 (down from 96,000 in 2018/19).

Overall, the total volume of complaints for fixed broadband services increased during Q4 2020, although complaints about landline and pay TV services were broadly steady and there was a drop in complaints about pay-monthly mobile. The current overall level of consumer satisfaction with communications services is listed as 85% for landline phone, 85% for broadband and 93% for mobile.

Otherwise, the results below reflect a proportion of residential subscribers (i.e. the total number of quarterly complaints per 100,000 customers per provider), which makes it easier to compare providers in a market where ISPs can vary significantly in size. But sadly, the study only covers feedback from the largest ISPs (i.e. those with a market share of at least 1.5%) due to limited data.

We should add that Ofcom also tracked 59 complaints about BT’s provision of the broadband USO during the quarter (up from 46 in Q3 and 53 in Q2 2020), although the separate nature of this service and its early deployment phase means that they haven’t included this figure into their totals below.

Fixed Line Home Broadband Complaints

Once again Vodafone continued to attract the most complaints for fixed broadband connectivity and most of those were about faults, service and provisioning issues (49%). Meanwhile EE and Sky Broadband attracted the fewest gripes.


Fixed Line Phone Complaints

Vodafone also attracted the most complaints for landline phone services and, yet again, most of those related to faults, service and provisioning issues (33%). Much like broadband, Sky Broadband and EE continued to attract the fewest gripes here too.


Mobile Complaints

Sadly, iD Mobile and parent operator Three UK were at the top of this quarter’s naughty list for Pay Monthly Mobile plans. Most of iD’s complaints related to complaints handling (37%), while on Three UK the bulk stemmed from issues related to billing, pricing and charges (30%). Meanwhile, Tesco enjoyed having the fewest gripes.


Pay TV Complaints

Finally, Virgin Media continued to be the most complained about pay TV provider in the UK, with most of their gripes reflecting issues with complaints handling (35%). By comparison Sky TV received hardly any moans.


Ofcom’s Consumer Complaints Report Q4 2020

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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.
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27 Responses
  1. Tom says:

    I didn’t think think my internet would be much different when I switched away from Vodafone, but the stability issue is resolved, the speed is about the same. I wonder if they have backhaul issues?

  2. HATE VODAFONE says:

    Thank the Lord, my Vodafone home broadband contract is up shortly. It is unbelievably crap, its so slow you couldn’t stream a Gnat taking a pee. service constantly drops out. Vodafone support is just beyond useless and as for Vodafone’s connection App, well that was just rigged so you couldn’t claim compensation, when the broadband dropped the App froze and whited out so you couldn’t notify Vodafone the broadband was down or claim the 15% back of the next bill. I thought TalkTalk was useless but Vodafone take that crown.

    Now I purposely seek out online Vodafone adds and click on every one of them, as it turns out some of these clicks can cost Vodafone as much as £3.00 per click

  3. Aled says:

    What would be the reason Vodafone struggle with home broadband complaint, when they essentially re-sell the BT Openreach network? Is it backhaul, router choice, de-prioritised traffic, customer expectations etc.?

    Personally, I have had reasonably good performance switching from BT 40meg to Vodafone 80meg contracts, constant 70+ meg downloads (occasional iffy and variable uploads for some reason) and ~20ms latency when gaming. That could simply be a local area thing (Brentford/West London area), or simply because there are multiple cloud/data centres in the local area.

    I could possibly imagine, that if I lived in a rural area, Vodafone may not put much effort (compared to BT) about rural download speed/reliability.

    1. Matt says:

      In most of Vodafone’s network, it is only “Openreach” from cabinet to exchange.

      Vodafone then pickup their own network there and route accordingly.

      It is that which is the issue with them not provisioning enough capacity on an exchange but still taking orders against it. Took them 9 months some years ago to upgrade Norwich exchange from 1Gb to 10Gb. 99% packet loss for 20 hours a day.

    2. Tech 2 guy says:

      As a 2nd line home broadband technical analyst for an Openreach-based provider I can confirm that Openreach engineers address all faults up to, and including the telephone socket inside your house.

      The number one most common reason I see day to day for slow connection speeds is either because customers expect too much from a WIFI connection without even testing their speed over an ethernet connected device, or they were not informed at point of sale how long the copper wire is from their nearest green cabinet up to their house.

      I have dealt with customers on copper line lengths as long as 2400 metres, and it isn’t hard to see why those unfortunate customers struggle.

      The root of all issues is the quality of the Openreach infrastructure in some areas of the UK, where the network hasn’t had any meaningful upgrades in literally as long as 10 years sometimes.

    3. Fastman says:

      Tech 2 – interesting view of the world where you think The root of all issues is the quality of the Openreach infrastructure in some areas of the UK, where the network hasn’t had any meaningful upgrades in literally as long as 10 years sometimes.

      never mind the facts — keep on with the narrative —

    4. Buggerlugz says:

      BT’s twisted pair FTTC “Pretend fibre” offering would cause me tears too.

    5. Ferrocene Cloud says:

      If the issues on any OR based service are specific to a particular provider, that would typically suggest an exchange backhaul issue or insufficient cable link bandwidth, or issues routing across the network. Typically backhaul, because it also has to carry leased line traffic as well as regular broadband traffic.

      Routing itself would normally only add latency if it’s not able to take a direct path, but you can possibly end up with overutilisation issues a bit further on from the access network if you get an oversubscribed aggregation node where the traffic from multiple switches at the exchange comes in before routing over to the core.

      If provider A only has 1Gbps backhaul from the exchange which is not sufficient these days, and provider B has 10Gbps backhaul or greater, that would be why you’d see more issues with provider A.

      Also if you’re able to have CDNs deep in the network then you can serve a lot of traffic without needing to use your backhaul, or if a little further in you stop it from crossing your core. Again, some providers better than others here.

      The good providers do the expansion capacity work nice and early and you never notice issues. Why it’s important to do the research on your ISPs before choosing. I’d rather pay Zen several pounds a month more and have them upgrade their network in good time than go with a cheaper provider who has to cut costs.

  4. Kieron says:

    I’ve never had any issues

    1. AT says:

      I suspect the vat majority don’t. Wenden when they think they do.

      Even on this thread, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one person blames
      openreach or isp is when it’s a local wifi issue causing problems.

  5. Dell Skinner says:

    im dell from Plymouth im with Vodafone and it keeps going off 3 to 5 times a day and im mega fed up with it so im going elsewhere my mate as got the same problem so they can get stuffed

  6. Tristan says:

    I can’t wait for my Vodafone contract to be up. I was happily with Plusnt on the same line and it worked a dream before I swapped to Vodafone. It’s painfully slow and desperately unreliable. Frequent drop outs. Vodafone customer service are hopeless. I suspect any provider would be better on my line.

  7. Michael V says:

    My Vodafone home fibre the last 3 years has been the best. Joining the ISP was Also the first time moving away from old ADSL broadband.
    The service & stability is great.
    Before the move, I was with sky for 12 months & their service was really bad & slow speeds, when we knew our line was capable of more.

    1. Ben says:

      April fools day was at the start of the month 😉

    2. Michael V says:

      Really.. Ben!!!

  8. Ops says:

    Agree with Tech 2 Guy. Also in a similar tech ops role- see the same… almost exactly as described.

    Back to Vodafone, my experience has been positive. 18 months FTTC connection. A few drops over 18 months, could count them on one hand.

    Before Vodafone, Plusnet… BT… John Lewis… Sky – All fine apart from a line fault that affected BB connectivity and speeds about 3 or 4 years ago. Once fixed..all fine again.

    In every case
    – used my own modem/router where possible (Not ISP supplied)
    – kept a spare/generic ISP one for testing.
    – always used the TS
    – kept a £5 corded handset to hand to test the land line
    – migrated to Mesh – then Mesh with wired backhaul within the home.
    – No issues.

    As has been said before..Openreach infrastructure…. coupled with Wi-Fi expectations and long line lengths..The sooner we are all on FTTP/H the better!

    1. Ar says:

      ^^ This ^^

    2. Tech 2 guy says:

      Amen to THAT! I’m fed up of only being able to choose Virgin if I want speeds higher than 20 mbps 🙁

  9. Richard says:

    Left plusnet thinking vodafone will be ok, how wrong was i, went from a solid 44mbps(plusnet) to 32-35mbps(vodafone), minimum btwholesale line speed was rated at 32mbps, router stats shows error rates up the wall. before they dumped the price promise, they offered me lifetime 10% off due to so many issues.

    will be moving as soon as my contract is up in a few months.

    1. AT says:

      If you didn’t know about the errors on the line would you notice any issues?

      I’m terms of speed, it’s not much in the grand scheme of things.

  10. John Lancaster says:

    I’m with EE had a lot of problems with them on fibre and only get 6mbs if lucky when you phone up and complain the speeds jump up the dropped down a few days later seems strange as not fault can be found on the line or exchange. Ended up getting 3 router with unlimited data on 4g and getting speeds of 60mbs in fairness to EE they have reduced my bill

    1. GNewton says:

      @John: “problems with them on fibre and only get 6mbs if lucky”

      You were never on fibre in the first place.

  11. Stuart says:

    Never had an issue with Vodafone Broadband. Really quick and easy to switch, great price and really quick. Can’t say I have ever noticed any dropout. Maybe just luck of the draw? Or quality of ‘magic stuff’ from the Outreach box into our house.

  12. Johno says:

    I moved from Sky to Vodafone around a week only for a cost saving and what a disaster. The technical support is woeful and I believed the hype in the marketing 24/7 my aris. I spent 34 minutes on the phone yesterday trying to speak to someone to cancel the contract and gave up as I needed to vent my bladd3r! I will be on the phone Monday and cancel it no long how I have to wait. I have no ring cameras now connecting , printer that wouldn’t connect, a WiFi extender that shows 2bars signal strength when the sky managed 7 out of a total of 8 bars. Before anyone pipes up, I’m not an imbecile I’m a technical consultant engineer and my eldest son is a Microsoft certified engineer! Vodafone broadband really is absolute sh1te

    1. AT says:

      So many issues with this attitude.

      Reading in between the lines, you’ve basically said this is your internal issue. And Vodafone won’t help you setup YOUR printer. Why should they?

  13. CrimsonLiar says:

    Vodafone seems to make too many assumptions about the variety of devices customers want to connect, and how basic a service their customers expect. The best example being that on their current router, it is impossible to manually set the WiFi channels, and the router really likes channels 12 & 13 on 2.4GHz and channels above 48 on 5GHz. Because of this, there are some common devices that often cannot connect to either WiFi band, and there is no setting available on the router to change this!

  14. Sheila Stratton says:

    Have nothing but slow speed and dropping since being with Vodafone. Supposed to get 68 min lucky if I can watch a film with dragging.
    I had now TV basic home 36 before them never had drops. Vodafone have to go carnt even complete internet call for work. And my mobile bill is climbing because it’s using mobile data.

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