Enforcement programme into complaints handling

30 September 2019


Programme into Communications Providers (‘CPs’) offering fixed line telephony, mobile, and broadband to consumers
Case opened 12 February 2013
Case closed 30 September 2019

This enforcement programme is looking at CPs’ compliance with General Condition (‘GC’) 14.4, particularly whether CPs have and are complying with procedures that conform to the Ofcom Approved Code of Practice for Complaints Handling (Annex 4 to GC14) when handling complaints made by domestic and small business customers.

In addition, we are also considering whether CPs are making customers aware of Alternative Dispute Resolution (‘ADR’) and sending the appropriate Notification letters to complainants whose complaints remain unresolved at 8 weeks.

Relevant legal provision(s)

General condition 14.4

Ofcom is today announcing the closure of its enforcement programme into complaints handling.

When something goes wrong with their communications service, people need to be able to complain easily. Effective complaints handling procedures are an important aspect of ensuring that consumers are appropriately protected and empowered in their dealings with their communications providers. If a complaint is handled badly, a customer may suffer emotional and financial harm beyond that caused by the initial problem that prompted the complaint.

The availability of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an important part of this; it helps to incentivise providers to treat their customers fairly and ensure fair and timely resolution of their complaints.

Our enforcement programme into complaints handling has delivered positive results for consumers, including:

  • three investigations into Three UK, EE and Vodafone for complaints handling failures, which resulted in fines of £250K, £1 million and £925,000, respectively;
  • securing improvements to providers' complaints handling processes, through targeted, engagement with poor performing providers; and
  • ensuring providers’ policies and procedures support effective signposting of ADR, including material increases in the volume of ADR letters being sent.

In light of these achievements and improved levels of compliance, we have decided that it is no longer necessary to undertake this enhanced level of monitoring, so we are closing our enforcement programme

Effective complaints handling procedures remain one of the most important regulatory obligations on telecoms companies. We are committed to ensuring consumers are protected and empowered in their dealings with telephone companies. We will continue to monitor complaints to Ofcom and will remain vigilant to any compliance concerns that arise.

Case leader

Rapinder Newton (email: rapinder.newton@ofcom.org.uk)

Case reference CW/01101/02/13