21st October 2015
Complaints about phone and internet companies have risen by 5% so far this year compared to the same period last year, with billing problems and service issues among the top gripes.
In total, 15,542 complaints were received by Ombudsman Services’ communications division between January and September this year.
In the three months from July to September (Q3) complaints decreased by 9% to 4,751, down from 5,194 between April and June.
However, the number of complaints received has jumped by 35% compared to three years ago in Q3 2012, when the number was 3,246.
Nearly a third of complaints in September (31%) related to billing issues, such as complicated invoices, direct debit amounts or incorrect account details.
Service issues were the second most common gripe with consumers, accounting for over one in five complaints (23%), while contract issues, including cancellations and mis-selling, came in third (16%).
So far this year, people in the Midlands have been most dissatisfied with their communications providers, bringing 1,480 complaints to Ombudsman Services: Communications – one in 10 of all complaints made (10%). After the Midlands, the telecoms users who complained the most were those in the North West (8%), South West (8%) and Inner London (7%).
The Consumer Action Monitor 20151 showed that consumer complaints in the UK nearly doubled between 2013 and 2014, from 38million to 66million.
A recent Ofcom report found that there is “considerable room for improvement” within the communications industry when it comes to facilitating access to Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Currently, companies are failing to issue written notification letters and deadlock letters, which consumers require in order to take their cases further when a provider has failed to solve the issue. In three quarters (75%) of cases investigated, notification letters had not been sent when they should have been.
Lewis Shand Smith, chief ombudsman, says: “There are differences between individual companies but the overall trend shows an increase in communications complaints.
“Many may still be suffering in silence because they think it’s too much hassle or don’t know what they can do to take their complaint further.
“Dissatisfied customers have a right to approach an ombudsman to complain if their provider has failed to solve a problem, and it seems that companies are failing to make people aware of this.
“Ombudsman Services exists as a quick, free and easy way to resolve ongoing complaints with communications providers, which can provide advice and help to solve peoples’ issues.”