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Ofcom Shames Virgin Media Over Broadband and TV Complaints UPDATE2

Monday, September 6th, 2021 (10:38 am) - Score 16,920
Consumers-Complaints-for-Ofcom-UK-via-Smartphone

Ofcom has today published their Q1 2021 (calendar) consumer complaints study, which names and shames Virgin Media UK for attracting the most moans about fixed line home broadband, Pay TV and landline phone services in the quarter, while Three UK did the same for Mobile.

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.96,051 calls and items of correspondence directly from consumers in 2020/21.

Overall, the total volume of complaints for fixed broadband, landline and Pay TV services increased during the quarter (mostly due to Virgin Media), while mobile services held steady. The overall level of consumer satisfaction with communications services is listed as 77% for landline phone, 80% for broadband and 90% for mobile (based on data from 2020).

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 just 19 complaints about BT’s provision of the broadband USO during the quarter (down sharply from 59 in Q4 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. We suspect the quarterly change may be due more to the COVID-19 lockdown (fewer requests) than BT’s positive process changes, but it’s hard to say.

Fixed Line Home Broadband Complaints

Until now Vodafone has tended to dominate the naughty spot at the top of this table, but in Q1 it was Virgin Media that generated the highest volume of fixed broadband complaints. Virgin’s main complaint drivers were about complaints handling (39%); fault, service, and provisioning issues (33%); and billing, pricing, and charging issues (13%).

At the other end of the scale, both EE and Sky Broadband were praised for attracting the fewest gripes.

ofcom_fixed_line_broadband_complaints_q1_2021

Fixed Line Phone Complaints

Broadband and landline phone services are often closely linked, so it’s not surprising that Virgin Media managed to top the naughty spot for this category too. Once again, Virgin’s main complaints drivers were focused on complaints handling (42%); billing, pricing, and charging issues (17%); and fault, service, and provisioning (16%) issues. Meanwhile, EE and Sky Broadband attracted the fewest gripes, again.

ofcom_fixed_line_phone_complaints_q1_2021

Mobile Complaints

Three UK received the most complaints for pay monthly mobile services in Q1, which was driven by complaints about billing, pricing, and charges (28%); complaints handling (25%); and faults, service, and provisioning (16%) issues. However, both Virgin Mobile and iD Mobile, came very close to the same level. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the scale, Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile enjoyed receiving hardly any complaints at all.

ofcom_mobile_complaints_q1_2021

Pay TV Complaints

Sadly, Virgin Media managed to perform a hat trick of the worst kind by also attracting the most complaints for Pay TV services too, which was largely driven by gripes about their complaints handling (47%); issues relating to billing, pricing, and charges (17%); and faults, service, and provisioning (16%). By comparison Sky TV saw the fewest consumer moans.

ofcom_pay_tv_complaints_q1_2021

Ofcom’s Consumer Complaints Report Q1 2021
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/../telecoms-pay-tv-complaints-q1-2021.pdf

UPDATE 11:25am

We’re still awaiting a response from Virgin Media, but in the meantime we have one from EE.

An EE spokesperson said:

“EE receives the fewest complaints of any mobile, landline and broadband provider in the UK. This reflects the hard work of our teams in UK and Ireland contact centres and stores providing the best local and personal service to our customers.

EE customers enjoy being part of the UK’s biggest and fastest network. With more 5G coverage than any other provider, EE has been named the UK’s best network for the past 8 years by RootMetrics.”

UPDATE 12:47pm

We’ve now had a statement from Virgin Media.

A Virgin Media spokesperson said:

“Providing a great customer experience alongside fast, reliable services is our number one priority. Since Ofcom collected its data for this report, we have made a number of improvements to our customer service, including hiring more than 500 care agents, which has seen complaints decrease by 70% putting them at their lowest level since 2018. We will keep investing and making improvements to give our customers the high-quality service they rightly expect.”

Just for context, we recall that Q1 2021 was a period where several of the operator’s contact centres had to be closed again due to the COVID-19 lockdown and related events. Some operators adapted to the pandemic better than others, although we suspect their position at the top of Ofcom’s naughty table may be short-lived.

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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
24 Responses
  1. Jack says:

    Sky is interesting with complaints, they try to palm you off with discounts / credits to attempt to stop a complaint going further. If a complaint can’t get resolved they then default to delaying tactics to try and get you to give up and if you mention deadlock they then refer it to their “legal” who will say they don’t agree with your view of the complaint and make you wait the full weeks so you can than refer it to the ombudsman yourself.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      It should be added that none of that stops you from lodging a complaint, any time you wish, with Ofcom itself.

    2. andrew wyatt says:

      have had 2 bouts of total loss if service no internet ,tv ,phone registered for compensation not one penny all complaints ignored at one time i kid you not ” apologised to customer no further action ” not spoked to any one with or for a apology

    3. Spurple says:

      I agree with this comment about Sky. In my case, I chose to prioritise my mental stability and wrote off my losses instead of following through with the complaints process.

      I suspect this is what they really want you to do, so I simply resolved to avoid doing business with them in the future as long as I have alternatives.

  2. A_Builder says:

    It would be interesting to know how the complaints split between their HFC and FTTP estate?

    My **guess** is that few of them relate to the FTTP estate providing further incentive to the welcome FTTP push.

  3. m says:

    As an Ex-VM installer most of the faults I attended were always the same bogus with wifi coverage and the rare occasion was an actual issue with the service with damaged cable or hub

    1. Connor says:

      Not surprised, the kit they provide is awful. My complaints were about the Puma 6 issues and the mitigation which caused more issues for me. Of course they’d send a technician each time who couldn’t really do anything.

      The wifi coverage of course is still awful but I’ve been using my own access point and router for a good 5 years now so it’s a nonissue for me.

  4. Des Gruntled VM says:

    Customer service is still awful. They may answer quicker but those “abroad” can’t either answer or make changes,apart from upgrading.

    Like many other company services abroad, they are simply there to deflect call traffic in the UK or upsell.

  5. Phil Cowley says:

    The solution for virgin is simple. Bring the call centres to the UK. I for one will be leaving at the end of my contact unless they do this. I am sick of the platitudes and inaction from the Indian call centres.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      In my experience the platitudes and inaction is the very reason they hire Indian call centres. They know its all they’re good for, but its cheaper than paying people a decent wage in the UK.

  6. Ex VM says:

    I worked at Virgin until earlier this year and I’m not surprised at all by this, complaints handling was awful. No real complaints team, managers refusing to take complaints calls and letting them pile up, huge scandal really

  7. David says:

    Being a virgin media customer and I can definitely understand why they get complaints, touch wood I have had vey few issues but when something does go wrong it is a long painful wait on hold to talk to some offshore agent who is polite etc but doesn’t always get the job done.

    I’m also an EE customer and I can’t fault the customer service they provide only issue I have is when I do a phoneswap and it brightstar they are just terrible

  8. Lee S says:

    Will we ever see sky broadband using virgin media fibre? It was romoured as part of the merger that virgin will open up the network.

    I only ask as I have no choice to use virgin and I get ripped off as virgin know I can only get 12mbps on an openreach line.

    1. Squidgy says:

      Seems unlikely and with more and more FTTP from openreach and altnets it seems that boat has long since sailed.

  9. dave jones says:

    I’m surprised they have so many complaints for their tv, way more than sky, i wonder why that is.

  10. Roger_Gooner says:

    My personal experience is that VM’s broadband and TV work very well but I know of many cases where VM’s response to other customers’ problems has been woeful. I can understand why broadband is more troublesome than what’s offered by DSL providers as the access network of VM is more complex than Openreach’s, but nothing can excuse the repeated failures to focus on problem resolution and honest communication with customers. It beggars belief that some customers have reported weeks, months or even years of poor broadband.

  11. P R says:

    Had to switch from sky to VM as sky/open reach were unable to resolve a line fault.
    VM speed and line reliability over 12 months has been good with only 2 short failures.The Router is poor, it cannot handle the line,Ethernet network and WiFi.Adding an additional router is the only way to solve this issue. On occasion the line suffers from latency. The TV boxes and v360 software are equally poor compared to sky.
    Where VM really fail is their fault handling. Trying to call them was always a 30 minute wait. Once through getting past their odd security check was slow. To date getting them to actually resolve any issue raised so far has been a failure. 3 and counting so far over 12 months, none resolved to date. Multiple calls are required. In essence they assume you will give up and eventually you do.
    1. Line latency issues
    2. Comedy sound output from TV boxes either on old TV software or newer TV 360 software. You tube Norman Collier for example.
    3. TV go software unreliable and connections through to sky sport frequently stop working.

    The covid excuse for poor service is wearing thin.

  12. M blewitt says:

    We have been with virgin media for years and the broadband is terrible we pay for 300meg+ and yet never get anywhere nea rit I recon we have made over 500 calls to virgin to get it sorted and they flob us off with Constant maintenance excuses but never reduce the bill if this is a so called. Maintenance and how can it be for years like it we cannot go to. Sky has they only have a 40meg max in our area and we need the mor. E powerful Internet so virgin know they have us over a barrel and can do what they wish it’s disgusting behaviour we pay over £100 per month for what should be 300 but get 40 is this fair fight for us ofcom all. Call are. Logged with them. And our many. Many complaints but virgin just ignore as long as we pay

    1. Squidgy says:

      Might as well goto sky and save yourself a barrel of money.

    2. Anon says:

      If you don’t get your paid for speed, you can terminate your contract without fees.

  13. Margaret Platt says:

    I would like to know what is being done virgin media feeds a pack of lies to you over the phone I could write a book .

  14. Jennet Bryan says:

    I have been through hell with Virgin Media. I noted all calls, what was said, by whom and compiled an 8 page virgin media diary. I took screenshots every time my TV didn’t work and filmed myself trying to get a signal countless times. I also took screenshots of complaints about them from trust pilot, yell com and Google reviews. I initially reported them to Ofcom (don’t see the point of this service). V/media only did something when I told them if my findings of their agreement with Ofcom, what Resolver said they should do and what Which money stated they should do. I needed the WiFi for counselling and the NHS Pain clinic help. I informed them that I’m disabled and the stress of trying to sort it out was making my pains worse. It’s appalling that there’s a conspiracy amongst staff. Managers never call and I was told different rules/policies by the staff. The way I was spoken to was appalling and I had the phone calls terminated and they blamed me for it, the liars. I was accused of shouting and interrupting only for them to admit the accusations were not true. I won my case in part but I think the adjudicator was overwhelmed with my evidence. I was awarded £200 & given the choice to end my contract without paying to leave it if V/media cannot fix the issue in 12 weeks. It has left a very bitter taste in my mouth and I shall never forgive them for their wicked ways. I think the vast majority of their clients just let them get away with it because they don’t want to put in the work to hold these companies to account. Please do not do this. Research, compile your evidence and make the complaint. Why should we pay for something that doesn’t work?

  15. Paul Mason says:

    VM packages suck. If you want faster broadband you have to buy the whole package and you cannot downgrade online. They want you to haggle. Awful company

  16. Josh Welby says:

    Same as Sky, they also want you to phone them to downgrade

    And Jennet Bryan is right

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