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UK comms regulator Ofcom has revealed its latest figures relating to the volume of consumer complaints it received against the major providers of telecoms and pay-TV services. The latest report covers the three-month period from April to June 2015 (Q2), and includes complaints made about 13 providers of fixed line telephone, fixed line broadband, pay monthly mobile and pay TV services.
This is the eighteenth quarterly Ofcom report to include complaints data by provider, and the fourteenth report to include data for pay TV complaints.
Consumer information plays an important role in ensuring competitive communications markets work for consumers.
By publishing complaints data, Ofcom aims to give people who are looking for a new provider useful information for comparing companies’ performance. The quarterly reports also offer an incentive to providers to improve their performance.
The total volume of telecoms and pay-TV complaints made to Ofcom continued to decrease in Q2 2015, even as the number of consumers taking up these services increased.
Broadband, mobile pay-as-you-go and mobile pay monthly services saw the most notable reductions in total volume of complaints.
Total complaints volumes for fixed line telephone and pay TV services remained at similar levels to Q1 2015. Broadband services continued to attract the most complaints, albeit at lower levels than previously.
Claudio Pollack, Director of Ofcom’s Content and Consumer Group, said: “Our complaints data allow consumers to make meaningful comparisons that can be useful when looking for a new provider.
“While it’s encouraging to see a continued decrease in the total number of complaints, there is still room for improvement. We expect providers to make customer service and complaints handling top priorities.”
Landline telephone services
Despite seeing a reduction since Q1 2015, EE continued to generate the highest volume of landline complaints as a proportion of its customer base (0.34 per 1,000 customers).
The main complaint drivers for EE landline customers were problems changing provider (32 per cent), concerns about faults, service and provision (29 per cent) and complaints handling (17 per cent).
Post Office HomePhone, Plusnet and TalkTalk also generated landline complaint volumes above the industry average of 0.13 per 1,000 customers. BT was broadly in line with the industry average.
Sky (0.06 per 1,000 customers) and Virgin Media (0.07 per 1,000 customers) were the only providers with complaints volumes below the industry average. Sky continued to generate the lowest number of landline customer complaints.
EE also generated the most complaints for broadband as a proportion of its customer base during the second quarter of this year. However, their complaints volume did decrease from 0.51 per 1,000 customers in Q1 2015 to 0.45 in Q2 2015.
Problems relating to faults, service and provision (40 per cent), billing, pricing and charges (20 per cent) and complaints handling (20 per cent) were the main drivers of complaints about EE broadband.
TalkTalk’s complaints volume (0.27 per 1,000 customers) increased from Q1 2015 and is above the industry average of 0.16 per 1,000 customers. While BT and Plusnet both saw reductions in their complaint volumes since Q1 2015, both providers continued to generate more than the industry average (0.22 and 0.20 per 1,000 customers respectively).
Virgin Media complaints (0.07 per 1,000 customers) were below the industry average and have decreased since Q1 2015 (0.09 per 1,000 customers). Sky had the lowest complaints volume (0.05 per 1,000 customers) for broadband.
Mobile pay-monthly services
Vodafone continued to be the most complained about mobile provider in Q2 2015 (0.14 complaints per 1,000 customers).
The main drivers of Vodafone complaints were problems with billing, pricing and charges (34 per cent), complaints handling (27 per cent) and concerns around faults, service and provision (17 per cent).
Talk Mobile complaints increased to 0.12 per 1,000 customers and remained above the industry average.
Complaints about Virgin Mobile also increased – to 0.08 per 1,000 customers in Q2 2015, up from 0.07 in Q1 2015. EE also generated more complaints than the industry average.
O2, Tesco Mobile and Three UK all generated complaints volumes below the industry average of 0.07 per 1,000 customers. Tesco Mobile generated the lowest volume of complaints per 1,000 customers (0.01) for the fifth consecutive quarter.
TalkTalk became the most complained about pay-TV provider. Its complaints volume increased to 0.14 per 1,000 customers, compared to 0.12 in Q1 2015.
The main reasons for TalkTalk complaints were fault, service and provision issues (36 per cent), billing, pricing and charges (28 per cent) and issues relating to complaints handling (17 per cent).
In Q2 2015, BT saw a reduction in complaint volumes, generating 0.11 complaints per 1,000 customers, compared to 0.15 in Q1 2015. Virgin Media’s complaints volume increased to 0.05 per 1,000 customers, compared to 0.04 in in Q1 2015.
The only provider to generate fewer complaints than the industry average was Sky (0.01 per 1,000 customers), which remained the best-performing pay-TV provider.
On average, Ofcom receives slightly fewer than 300 telecoms complaints a day from consumers.
These individual contacts are analysed – alongside customer service satisfaction data and other sources of evidence – to help inform when and where additional consumer protection measures may be needed.