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Latest telecoms and pay TV complaints figures

March 28, 2013

Ofcom today published levels of complaints for the major telecoms and pay TV providers between October and December 2012.

Overall, the total volume of complaints made to Ofcom continued to fall during the last quarter of 2012 – the sixth consecutive quarter of decline.

Complaints about landline, broadband, ‘pay-as-you-go’ mobile and pay-TV services decreased, although pay-monthly mobile complaints marginally increased.

This is Ofcom’s eighth quarterly report, which aims to help consumers make informed decisions when considering a new service or provider. It also incentivises operators to improve their performance.

Claudio Pollack, Director of Ofcom’s Consumer Group said: “It’s encouraging to see a continuing decline in the total volume of complaints, and we hope these figures will incentivise providers to further improve their performance.

“We’re committed to providing consumers with valuable information to help them choose a provider that best suits their needs.”

Landline telephone services

In the landline telephone market, TalkTalk generated the most complaints during the final quarter of 2012, with 0.36 complaints per 1,000 customers.

TalkTalk complaints continued to fall quarter on quarter, although they remain at almost double the industry average, with consumers mainly complaining about service faults and customer service issues.

BT complaints fell slightly from 0.21 complaints to 0.20 complaints per 1,000 customers in Q4 2012. They remain above the industry average.

Both Sky and Virgin Media generated complaints below the industry average. Virgin Media had the fewest number of complaints, at 0.11 complaints per 1,000 customers, while Sky attracted 0.12 complaints per 1,000 customers.

Landline telephone complaints per 1,000 customers, October 2010 – December 2012

Broadband services

During the fourth quarter of 2012, Orange generated the most complaints as a proportion of its broadband customer base at 0.70 per 1,000 customers, increasing from 0.50 per 1,000 customers three months earlier.

The data reveals that complaints about Orange hit a peak in October. This relates to Orange’s decision to withdraw its free broadband offer unless customers also purchased line rental from the company.

TalkTalk was the second most complained about broadband provider. Its complaints continued to fall quarter on quarter – from 0.35 to 0.33 complaints per 1,000 customers – although they remain higher than the industry average.

BT also generated above average complaints levels at 0.30 per 1,000 subscribers. Sky’s broadband service attracted fewest complaints – 0.08 per 1,000 customers.

Fixed broadband complaints per 1,000 customers, October 2010 – December 2012

Pay-monthly mobile services1

Ofcom received the most complaints from Orange customers during the three months to the end of December 2012. Orange generated above average complaints at 0.21 per 1,000 customers, again, largely driven, by the withdrawal of its free broadband offer.2

T-Mobile also generated complaints in excess of the industry average, with consumers mainly complaining about billing and how their complaints were handled. Three’s complaints were equal to the industry average.

O2 was the least complained about mobile provider with 0.06 complaints per 1,000 customers. O2, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone all achieved fewer complaints than the industry average.

As Ofcom has not received more than 30 complaints per month about any pay-as-you-go provider, it is not statistically valid to include separate data for these. However, Ofcom continues to closely monitor levels of complaints for pay-as-you-go mobile.

Mobile telephone (pay-monthly) complaints per 1,000 customers, October 2010 – December 2012

Pay TV services

From October to December 2012, Ofcom received the most complaints about BT Vision at 0.24 complaints per 1,000 customers.

Marginally increasing from 0.23 per 1,000 subscribers the previous quarter, complaints about BT Vision were six times greater than the industry average. Complaints were partly driven by problems with service provision and complaints handling issues.

Virgin Media also attracted above industry average complaints, at 0.06 complaints per 1,000 customers, while Sky had the lowest number of complaints – 0.02 per 1,000 customers.

Pay TV complaints per 1,000 customers, October 2011 – December 2012

Note difference in scale to landline and broadband services

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1.   In the mobile pay monthly sector, the individual subscriber figures we have used for T-Mobile and Orange are estimates based on Everything Everywhere’s total subscriber base.  This is because the actual volumes for each provider were unavailable for this quarter.

2.   Orange customers complaining to Ofcom indicated that they would not have renewed their mobile phone contract had they known that the free broadband offer was to be withdrawn.

3.  The ‘industry average’ refers to the average of providers included in the Ofcom research. Complaints about other smaller providers are not included in this average.

4.  The source for pay TV market share is Screen Digest, which publishes industry-recognised data on a quarterly basis. The source for market share in telecoms services is subscriber numbers provided confidentially to Ofcom by the respective providers.

5.   Consumers typically raise a complaint with their provider in the first instance. If the provider is not able to resolve the complaint within eight weeks, the consumer can make an application to an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme, which can examine the complaint and reach a judgement on the issue. In addition, some consumers contact Ofcom: on average, we receive around 300 consumer complaints a day. While we do not resolve individual complaints, we offer advice on how best to resolve the issue and use the data to inform policy and enforcement actions.

6.   Advice for consumers on how to complain about a provider can be found on Ofcom’s website.

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