Latest phone, broadband and pay TV complaints revealed
27 June 2014
Ofcom today published the volumes of complaints made against the major providers of telecoms and pay TV services between January and March 2014.
This is Ofcom's thirteenth quarterly report, which aims to provide useful information for consumers when choosing a provider and incentivise operators to improve their performance.
The total volume of telecoms and pay TV complaints made to Ofcom increased slightly in Q1 2014. Complaints were marginally higher quarter on quarter across landline, broadband and mobile pay-as-you-go services. Complaints in the mobile pay-monthly and pay TV sectors remained at the same level as in Q4 2013.
The report now presents pay-monthly mobile phone complaints against Orange, T-Mobile and 4GEE in a combined form - as 'EE'. This reflects that EE has started to consolidate the three brands following the merger of Orange and T-Mobile.
Since Q4 2014, as part of its brand consolidation, EE has integrated its online and high street presence and unified the consumer experience in terms of network access and customer service operations.
Claudio Pollack, Director of Ofcom's Consumer Group said: "Publishing complaints data is a key part of our work to provide useful comparative information for consumers, and drive improvements in quality of service across the communications sector.
"The report highlights the performance of providers relative to each other. This is valuable information that consumers may wish to consider alongside other factors such as price and availability, for example, when choosing a provider".
Landline telephone services
In the landline telephone market, TalkTalk generated the most complaints during the first quarter of 2014, with 0.28 complaints per 1,000 customers.
Its complaints volumes increased slightly over the quarter and remained above the industry average. Complaints mainly related to service faults, complaints handling and billing.
BT also generated complaints above the industry average for its landline service at 0.23 per 1,000 customers in Q4 2013.
Virgin Media had the fewest number of complaints at 0.07 per 1,000 landline customers, while Sky attracted 0.10 per 1,000 customers – both below industry average.
Landline telephone complaints per 1,000 customers, January 2012 – March 2014
EE generated the most complaints for broadband as a proportion of its customer base during the first quarter of this year - 0.42 per 1,000 customers. Complaints were primarily driven by service faults, billing and issues with changing provider.
BT and TalkTalk also received above industry average broadband complaints at 0.33 and 0.24 per 1,000 customers respectively.
Both Sky and Virgin Media generated broadband complaint volumes below the industry average. Virgin Media’s service attracted fewest complaints at 0.07 per 1,000 customers, while Sky generated 0.09 per 1,000 customers.
Fixed broadband complaints per 1,000 customers, January 2012 - March 2014
Pay-monthly mobile telephone services
Ofcom received the most complaints about pay-monthly mobile telephone services from EE customers during Q1 2014.
As explained above, the reports now presents complaints against T-Mobile, Orange and 4GEE in an aggregated form, as 'EE'.
At 0.12 per 1,000 customers, EE's pay-monthly mobile complaints volumes were twice the industry average and largely driven by issues related to complaints handling, billing and issues with changing provider.
As per the previous quarter, complaints about Virgin Mobile were also above the industry average at 0.07 per 1,000 customers.
For the first time since Ofcom began publishing complaints data in April 2011, Three generated fewest mobile pay-monthly complaints (0.04 per 1,000 customers), replacing O2 who had held that position for thirteen consecutive quarters. Complaints about Three, O2 and Vodafone were all below the industry average.
Mobile telephone (pay-monthly) complaints per 1,000 customers, January 2012 - March 2014
Note difference in scale to landline, broadband and pay TV services
Pay TV services
From January to March 2014, Ofcom received the most complaints about BT TV at 0.25 per 1,000 subscribers - five times the industry average. The main drivers of its complaints were service faults, complaints handling and billing issues.
TalkTalk also generated above industry average pay TV complaint levels at 0.19 per 1,000 subscribers.
Sky and Virgin Media were below the industry average, with Sky continuing to generate the lowest volume of pay TV complaints - 0.02 for every 1,000 customers.
Pay TV complaints per 1,000 customers, January 2012 - March 2014
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- Mobile pay-monthly telephony complaints against Orange, T-Mobile and 4GEE will now be presented in an aggregated form. This is to reflect that EE has taken steps to unify the experience consumers receive for each of its three brands over the time since the merger of T-Mobile and Orange, and it has appeared as a single consumer facing company from the launch of the EE brand in Q4 2012. As the publication covers data for the previous two years, we will present EE's complaints in aggregation since Q1 2012, distinguishing between the period following the relevant merger (represented by a faded bar on the chart) and the period after the launch of the EE brand (represented by a solid bar on the chart).
- The 'industry average' refers to the average of providers included in this publication. Complaints about other smaller providers are not included in this average.
- 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 submit their complaint for consideration by an independent person in accordance with the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme that the provider is obliged to put in place under General Condition 14.5 of the General Conditions. In addition, some consumers contact Ofcom. 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.
- Advice for consumers on how to complain about a provider can be found on Ofcom's website.