Nicolas delafraye - stock.adobe.
BT-backed internet service provider (ISP) Plusnet received the highest volume of broadband customer complaints during the first three months of 2019, according to telecoms regulator Ofcom, with 31 out of every 100,000 service users having some reason to make their displeasure known.
Ofcom compiles quarterly statistics showing complaints across broadband, mobile and landline services, and while overall broadband complaint volumes continued the downward trend (that actually dates back to 2010) in early 2019 – indeed, Plusnet was down from 43 complaints per 100,000 in the last quarter of 2018 – a number of ISPs saw their complaint volumes rise.
Among them was Vodafone, which saw complaints rise from 25 to 30 per 100,000, reflecting teething problems thanks to its relatively recent move into home broadband services, and TalkTalk, from 20 to 24 per 100,000.
All three of Plusnet, Vodafone and TalkTalk, as well as BT – which was down from 18 to 15 per 100,000 – scored above the industry average of 13.
The four other largest ISPs in the UK, Virgin Media, Post Office, Sky and EE, all scored under the industry average, and saw their volumes decline, with EE and Sky tied for the lowest volume of complaints, at five per 100,000.
Complaint volumes across other communications services, including landlines, pay-monthly mobile, and pay TV, always score significantly lower than complaints about broadband, and the latest set of statistics were no exception to this rule.
Out of the UK’s biggest landline providers, Plusnet again generated the most complaints, followed by TalkTalk, with incumbent BT mid-table, and EE generating the least. Of the big four mobile providers, Vodafone generated the most customer complaints, followed by Three, O2, and EE in that order. All four showed a similar downward trend. TalkTalk was the most disliked pay TV provider, and Sky the most liked.
Read more about consumer protection
- Ofcom is giving broadband, phone and pay-TV service providers nine months to ready their systems and processes for the emergence of new rules, designed to make it easier for consumers to switch providers.
- Internet service providers must now tell consumers how fast their broadband service will be before they sign a contract, under new Ofcom rules.
- BT and Kcom will begin to provide broadband services under the government’s USO scheme from 20 March 2020.
Ofcom said its research suggested that people were “broadly happy” with their communications services, and noted that when complaints did arise they were generally being solved effectively, although 96,000 people complained directly to the regulator during the monitored period.
“While Ofcom does not resolve individual complaints, it offers consumers advice on how they might best seek to resolve the issues raised,” said the regulator.
“We believe that publishing this information is useful for consumers: for example, this data may be relevant to those considering a new service or switching provider. We also use the complaints data to inform policy, enforcement and monitoring work, helping to ensure fairness for consumers.”
“It is disappointing to once again see Plusnet as the most complained about provider for landline and broadband, despite the volume of complaints falling since the end of last year,” said uSwitch analyst Dani Warner.
“Overall, however, the bigger picture presents a better story, with fewer complaints about both mobile and broadband providers across the board,” she said.
“In a competitive marketplace where consumers are spoilt for choice by a wide range of comparable and high-quality offerings, customer service is a crucial battleground for providers to attract and retain users. But for many companies, customer service still does not meet the standards that consumers deserve and expect.”