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Performance of UK Broadband Complaints Handlers Compared

Sunday, Aug 8th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 2,376
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The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, recently published updated Key Performance Indicator (KPI) statistics for the broadband and mobile market’s only two approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers, which are independent ombudsman services that help consumers to resolve complaints when ISPs fail to do so.

At present Ofcom requires all telecoms providers to become members of an approved ADR scheme – CISAS or Ombudsman Services (OS). The schemes are free for consumers to access and designed to supplement (not replace) an ISPs own internal complaint procedure(s), although ISPs often have to pay sizeable costs regardless of whether they win or lose a case.

The ADR process is typically seen as a last line of defence for consumers – before court action (the last resort) – and thus such schemes are generally only used after a dispute has gone unresolved for 8 weeks (i.e. the “Deadlock Letter” stage), or less with agreement from the provider. Please see our ISP Complaints and Advice section for more information.


Suffice to say that it’s sometimes interesting to see how both of the ADR providers are actually performing and the latest statistics highlight a few weaknesses, although much of that will have been caused by disruption due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, and related restrictions. But broadly, CISAS seems to be doing well, while OS has struggled in a couple of key areas.


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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar photo MartinConf says:

    I had a dispute with Sky Broadband that went on for months and months, I finally asked for a deadlock letter and they refused, I asked why and they told me their solicitor had advised them not to issue one.

    1. Avatar photo Lister says:

      In that case you just have to wait 8 weeks and then raise it yourself with the ADR firm.

    2. Avatar photo MartinConf says:


      Wasn’t aware you could

    3. Avatar photo GNewton says:

      @Lister: Consumers can only use an ADR provider if their complaint has gone unresolved for 8 weeks. At this point your ISP will send you a “Deadlock Letter” (see no.1 above) or you can request one and then raise the matter with one of the above ADR operators. So far, so good.

      Now, if the provider fails to respond to this final letter within a reasonable period of time (e.g. 14 days), then you should be able to take your complaint to the ombudsman regardless.

      See this ISPReview article for details of the whole procedure:

    4. Avatar photo Jack says:

      Sounds very similar to how a complaint I had with Sky went.

      It went unresolved as they disagreed with me, they referred it back to their “legal team” who as expected disagreed with me and any attempt to get a deadlock letter was ignored by them as they just referred back to what “legal” had said. In the end I went to the ombudsman and they agreed with me. At every step though despite Sky saying I was in the wrong the kept asking what they could do to resolve it, a refund, a discount or free cancellation but still maintaining they had done nothing wrong. I knew I was right so rejected offers but I expect others give in and then Sky mark the complaint as resolved

  2. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

    Same it didn’t compare customer satisfaction of UK Call centres against ones in India.

  3. Avatar photo Liam says:

    @GNewton You can go directly to the after 8 weeks. A deadlock letter is the company saying they have done all they can. This might not be the case after 8 weeks.

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