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Ofcom Sees Virgin Media Attract Most UK Broadband Gripes in Q4 2023 UPDATE

Wednesday, Apr 17th, 2024 (12:07 pm) - Score 2,880
complaints ofcom report isp broadband tv phone mobile

Ofcom has published their latest study of UK consumer complaints for Q4 2023, which once again names Virgin Media as the worst for attracting the most gripes about fixed broadband, landline phone and pay TV services. Meanwhile, O2, which is part of the same company, attracted the most complaints for Pay Monthly Mobile services.

The regulator’s new report only covers complaints that Ofcom itself has received and not those sent directly to an ISP, the ISPA or an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) complaints handler (i.e. Communications Ombudsman 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 57,374 complaints via calls, web forms, emails, social media and letters directly from consumers in 2022/23, which is down from 76,135 in 2021/22 and 96,051 in 2020/21.

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.

Take note that the proportion of people who were satisfied with their communications services in 2023 was 77% (unchanged from last year) for landline services, 82% (down from 83%) for broadband services and 87% (down from 91%) for all mobile services.

Fixed Line Home Broadband Complaints

For the second quarter running, Virgin Media attracted the most broadband complaints in Q4 2023, with related gripes against the ISP mainly being driven by issues related to complaints handling (44%). On the flip side, Sky Broadband continued to attract the fewest complaints of all the listed providers.

  Q1 2023 Q2 2023 Q3 2023 Q4 2023
BT 12 13 11 11
EE 7 7 9 9
NOW Broadband (NOW TV) 9 13 18 18
Plusnet 12 11 11 9
Shell Energy 16 13 13 14
Sky Broadband 5 5 5 5
TalkTalk 20 18 15 13
Virgin Media 15 15 32 20
Vodafone 17 24 15 14
Industry Average 12 12 15 12

Fixed Line Phone Complaints

Virgin Media also attracted the most complaints for fixed line phone services, where the top gripe once again related to issues of complaints handling (43%). By comparison, Sky Broadband (Sky Talk) attracted the fewest complaints.

  Q1 2023 Q2 2023 Q3 2023 Q4 2023
BT 8 7 7 7
EE 5 6 5 3
NOW Broadband (NOW TV) 6 7 11 10
Plusnet 7 7 7 6
Shell Energy 10 10 8 12
Sky Broadband 3 2 2 2
TalkTalk 13 10 10 9
Virgin Media 9 10 19 13
Vodafone 7 8 5 4
Industry Average 7 7 8 7

Mobile Complaints

Mobile operators still enjoy lower complaint levels than fixed line providers, but O2 managed to attract the most gripes during the quarter, with issues around complaints handling (34%) driving most of it – we’re starting to see a bit of a trend. By comparison, EE, Tesco Mobile, Vodafone and Sky Mobile all tied by attracting the fewest gripes.

NOTE: The table list’s BT too, but it’s worth pointing out that they no longer sell mobile plans to new customers.

  Q1 2023 Q2 2023 Q3 2023 Q4 2023
BT Mobile 7 8 5 3
O2 4 5 6 7
iD Mobile 4 4 4 3
Sky Mobile 2 2 2 2
Tesco Mobile 2 3 3 2
Three UK 3 4 4 4
Virgin Mobile 4 8    
Vodafone 3 3 3 2
EE 3 2 2 2
Industry Average 3 3 3 3

Pay TV Complaints

Finally, Virgin Media attracted the most complaints for Pay TV and the key driver for most of those gripes was, yes you guessed it, issues with complaints handling (48%). Meanwhile, Sky TV and TalkTalk jointly received the fewest pay-TV complaints.

  Q1 2023 Q2 2023 Q3 2023 Q4 2023
BT 11 10 7 7
Sky TV 2 2 2 2
TalkTalk 4 4 1 2
Virgin Media 9 10 20 13
Industry Average  5 5 7 5

Ofcom’s Consumer Complaints Report Q4 2023
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/../telecoms-and-pay-tv-complaints

UPDATE 1:33pm

We’ve had a comment from VMO2.

A Virgin Media O2 spokesperson said:

“We’re committed to providing an excellent service to our customers, and while overall these complaints represent a very small proportion of our customer base, we acknowledge there is a need for improvement, which is underway, and we’re focused on getting this right.

We are investing heavily and making changes across our business to deliver tangible improvements – for example through multi-skilling our teams and rolling out new IT platforms that will make it easier for customers to get support when they need it, and empowering our people to resolve any issues quickly and effectively first time.”

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
15 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Marcus Cleverly says:

    All the chatter within the market about Three Mobile and never a negative article about them.

    Clearly they have these grubby little ‘journalists’ in their back pocket.

    1. Avatar photo Sally Harris says:

      Not sure why you would expect any different?
      You do realise Three is a Chinese company and unfortunately journalism in this country belongs in the gutter.

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      “Never” a negative article (surely not trolling)? Hmm, and in just the past couple of months:

      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2024/03/cma-warn-vodafone-and-three-uk-risks-higher-prices-and-reduced-competition.html

      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2024/02/three-uk-suffers-third-major-mobile-outage-in-four-days.html

      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2024/02/mobile-operator-three-uk-suffers-network-outage.html

      Not to mention that Three UK aren’t exactly highly rated in today’s article either – 2nd most complained about mobile operator, albeit coming in quite a distant second to O2.

  2. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    The UPDATE statement is the same old type of statement every time a survey comes out.

    Looking at the VM Forums, for months up till today, it is awash with long term customers leaving, contracts not being what was agreed, install delays, orders wrong, hubs overheating with red light warnings, overcharging of bills, the list goes on…You expect a few complaints, but I’ve witnessed way more than that. Customers get sent recontract offers that nobody can apply, when the WhatsApp chat team do apply them the price agreed turns out to be wrong. A number of cases where a contract is circa £50 agreed, and the customer posts the contract when it comes through as £176 per month….Something clearly gone awry as customers often have the chat record or recording to prove as well.

    1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      Whilst any complaint is a complaint too many, if you go looking for complaints then what you are going to find is complaints.

      What often gets overlooked is that most people can happily co-exist with service providers (of any type of service) without feeling it their life’s goal to be complaining all the time.

      Often the complaints are about price, but are from people that haven’t looked around to see what else is available.

  3. Avatar photo Smir says:

    wish they added information on if complaints were about, service or support? o.0 100% Virgin has the worst support. If only they actually cared.

  4. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    O2 used to have excellent customer service some years ago. Fast forward to today where its now owned by VM and its pants. I’m a customer about to end my contract and its going. It’s slo as hell in most areas, the priority perks are usually good, Volt benefits are good if you watch the pricing on the VM side as a number of the VM agents will try and charge you for the speed bump, but contacting them is a lottery of bad phone line quality, accents you can’t understand, and bumping around of different people.

  5. Avatar photo ISP User says:

    I wonder if the HFC upgrades are upsetting VMs customer base? or is it simply overloading their network?

    1. Avatar photo Matt says:

      Their network generally is crap. They treat you like they’re doing you a favour letting you on their network, ignoring that you pay for access.

      Firmware updates pushed at 3pm? sure no problem…
      Maintenance during the day? Yep…
      Once it’s down is it easy to resolve? never

      Let alone forcing people to stay on the phone offering them “deals” when trying to leave. They’re like a rash, once you’ve got it, it’s difficult to get rid.

      The service used to be good with the SmartHub 3 where you could register issues in the app, it’d check the hub, do it’s thing, report it and get an engineer sorted. Why they never sorted the SH4 or 5 to do this I have no idea. Puts more pressure on their call support who are garbage.

      Sooner VMO2 gets knocked down a peg or 2 the better. Plenty of people have Virgin because they have no other high speed choice, as that changes w/ BT/Altnet FTTP rollout their customer base is going to walk.

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Heya, could you clarify which upgrades you’re referring to?

    3. Avatar photo AQX says:

      @Matt – the Hub 4 and 5 do support that exact thing you’re saying it doesn’t. I’ve had to use it plenty in the last few months with the service I’ve had recently.

  6. Avatar photo NTL_Not says:

    VerminMedia are Trash! VerminMedia by Name VerminMedia by Nature. Worst Broadband & Tv provider around. The more people that leave this aweful company as Customers the better. Im so glad that there are more Altnet providers, Finally giving a choice to customers which has been much needed

  7. Avatar photo Stew says:

    Now broadband used to have a great customer service base based in Northern Ireland, but once they decided they needed to save money and move the jobs to the other side of the world, you can clearly see the upward spike in complaints.

  8. Avatar photo At says:

    Re Vm

    ” for example through multi-skilling our teams and rolling out new IT platforms that will make it easier for customers to get support when they need it, and empowering our people to resolve any issues quickly and effectively first time.”

    I can’t help but feel that it’s rubbish. Multiskilling tends to mean everyone follows a script, nobody is actually trained which makes things worse.

  9. Avatar photo Birmingham Bear says:

    I ended up leaving VM mostly due to their shocking complaints handling.

    After agreeing a lower fee with their retentions team at £98, I never received a contract to the price I’d agreed, instead it was for a few pounds more at £105.

    I did query this but they said it would be resolved.

    Surprise surprise it wasn’t, and worse still they started charging me more than the already overpriced contract stated, at £145! They said they’d have to raise it to a higher level to get me refunded and I also said I still didn’t have what I’d originally agreed with retentions, which was £98.

    When I got no response within a few weeks, I said I wanted to raise a complaint, big mistake on my part.

    They said as I wanted to make a complaint they couldn’t help me with a refund whilst my issue was being investigated.

    I got completely ignored for another month and overcharged again at the higher £145.

    I called multiple times to chase up, explaining each time what had happened and they said they’d add it to my complaint, but couldn’t pass me to whoever was handling it.

    This went on for 4 months until I got an SMS saying could they handle my complaint via text, I responded to say yes, then never got anything else.

    Another month later I got a letter in the post to say they had closed my complaint and couldn’t see any problem. Also said I had no right to appeal.

    By this point I’d spent hours on the phone and on hold already, and was being overcharged every month.

    When I phoned to say I wasn’t happy with the situation they said as the complaint was showing as closed they couldn’t look into it further unless there was a new entirely separate issue.

    They said my only option was going to someone like ofcom.

    I was very burnt out by this point and had other things going on and couldn’t commit more time and stress to arguing with them on the phone.

    Eventually after about a year in total, on the off chance I tried to phone again, as I was still being charged £145 and my (incorrect) contract on my record was showing £105 a month still.

    Even though that wasn’t the £98 I’d agreed with retention I tried to just argue for the £40 a month back so I was at least being charged the amount on my contract.

    They agreed to that and refunded the years worth of overpayment.

    Even though it has cost me more at the end of my contract I moved to Sky for TV and broadband, because I couldn’t stand giving Virgin Media any more money.

    Their complaints handling is the worst I’ve ever experienced, it seems criminal to me how they can get away with taking money they don’t have a contract to take, and I wonder how many others have experienced something similar.

    I know I could’ve pushed more but it just meant even more time being lost for me, more stress all because of their mistakes.

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