12th May 2015
Ofcom has named and shamed the communications companies with the worst customer service, revealing that EE was the most complained about provider of mobile, landline and broadband services relative to customer volumes over the past nine months.
BT TV was the most complained about Pay TV provider and Vodafone was the most complained about mobile provider in the last quarter, however, EE had the most complaints relative to its customer base for the two quarters before that.
Ofcom today published data on the volumes of consumer complaints made against major providers of telecoms and pay TV services.
The watchdog says its reports provide useful information for consumers when choosing a provider, and incentivise operators to improve their performance.
They cover the nine months from April to December 2014. Over this period, telecoms and pay TV complaints made to Ofcom decreased slightly, continuing a long-term downward trend.
Today’s report includes data for operators with a customer market share of at least 1.5% – a lower threshold than in previous reports. As a result, for the first time, EE, Plusnet and Post Office HomePhone are included in landline complaints; Plusnet is included in broadband; and Talk Mobile and Tesco Mobile are included in pay-monthly mobile figures.
For landline telephone services, the inclusion for the first time of EE revealed it to be the most complained-about provider over the nine months, with complaints peaking at 0.33 per 1,000 customers in Q4 2014.
Complaints about EE’s landline service mainly related to problems with changing provider; fault, service and provision problems; and customer bills.
Plusnet, TalkTalk, BT and Post Office HomePhone also consistently generated complaints per thousand customers that were above the industry average for their landline services.
Virgin Media and Sky both attracted below-average landline complaints per customer over the period, with Virgin Media finishing the year with the lowest number (0.06 per 1,000 customers).
EE generated the most complaints for broadband as a proportion of its customer base over the nine months, with 0.42 complaints per 1,000 customers by the end of 2014.
Complaints were mainly driven by faults, service and provision problems; complaints handling; and problems changing provider.
BT, Plusnet and TalkTalk also generated above industry average broadband complaints per 1,000 customers over the period.
Both Sky and Virgin Media both generated broadband complaint volumes below the industry average, both ending the year with 0.06 complaints per 1,000 customers.
Pay-monthly mobile telephone services
In the most recent quarter, Vodafone was the most complained-about provider (with 0.15 complaints per 1000 customers in Q4 2014). However, EE was the most complained-about provider of pay-monthly mobile services over previous quarters.
The inclusion for the first time of Tesco Mobile showed it to generate the fewest complaints in the pay-monthly mobile market, finishing 2014 with 0.02 complaints per 1,000 customers.
Ofcom received the most complaints about BT TV, although these declined slightly to reach 0.15 per 1,000 subscribers by the end of the year. This was five times the industry average. The main causes of complaints were service faults and provisioning; complaints handling; and problems changing provider.
TalkTalk’s TV service also generated well above-average complaints, though these also declined to reach 0.10 per 1,000 subscribers by the end of 2014.
Sky continued to generate the lowest volume of pay TV complaints – 0.01 for every 1,000 customers at the end of the year.
Claudio Pollack, director of Ofcom’s content and consumer group, says: “Complaints figures help inform consumers’ choices of telecoms and pay TV services. There are now more providers included in our report, so people can compare complaints figures for all the biggest companies.
“While operators still have room to improve their performance, it’s encouraging to see a continuing decline in the total volume of complaints.”
Ewan Taylor-Gibson, telecoms expert atuSwitch.com, says: “Naming and shaming will encourage telecoms providers to strive to deliver a better service, but it’s clear from this report that industry-wide changes could also make a big difference.
“Problems changing provider is mentioned several times as a customer complaint, which shows it’s about time telecoms fell in line with other sectors, where the provider you’re moving to handles the switch, rather than the provider you’re leaving.
“Ofcom is making improvements to switching broadband from June, which will hopefully improve some customers’ experiences of moving to new providers. However, this won’t include mobile, pay TV or Virgin Media’s broadband network, so there will still be plenty of room for improvement.”