Ofcom today published its latest complaints data, revealing the most and least complained about major telecoms and pay TV providers between July and September 2012.
This is Ofcom’s seventh quarterly report, which aims to help consumers make informed decisions when considering a new service or provider and also to incentivise operators to improve their performance.
Overall, complaints levels are much lower for pay TV and ‘pay-as-you-go’ mobile telephone services than for broadband services and landline telephone services.
Landline telephone services
In the landline telephone market, TalkTalk generated the most complaints during the third quarter of 2012, with 0.39 complaints per 1,000 customers.
Although remaining well above the industry average, TalkTalk complaints continued to fall quarter on quarter, mainly due to a significant reduction in billing-related complaints.
BT complaints moved above the industry average level to 0.21 complaints per 1,000 customers in Q3, increasing from 0.19 the previous quarter.
Virgin Media and Sky jointly achieved the fewest number of complaints at 0.12 complaints per 1,000 customers, falling from 0.14 in the previous quarter.
Orange generated the most complaints as a proportion of its broadband customer base at 0.50 per 1,000, increasing from 0.29 per 1,000 customers three months earlier.
The data reveals a significant spike in complaints in September. This appears to be related to Orange’s customer notification of the withdrawal of its free broadband offer unless customers acquired line rental from the company.
TalkTalk was the second most complained about broadband provider, with complaints falling quarter on quarter from 0.42 to 0.35 per 1,000 subscribers. Its complaints remain higher than the industry average, but this is the first quarter since Ofcom first began publishing complaints data that TalkTalk did not have the highest volume of broadband complaints.
BT also generated above average complaints levels, rising slightly quarter-on-quarter from 0.31 to 0.34 per 1000 subscribers. Sky’s broadband service attracted fewest complaints – 0.09 per 1,000 customers.
Pay-monthly mobile services
Removed while data checks being conducted.
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 in this publication. However, Ofcom continues to monitor closely pay-as-you-go mobile complaint levels.
Pay TV services
From July to September 2012, Ofcom received the most complaints about BT Vision at 0.23 complaints per 1,000 customers. Despite a marginal decrease from 0.25 the previous quarter, complaints about BT Vision are still six-times greater than the industry average. Complaints were partly driven by problems with service provision.
Virgin Media 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.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. The limitations of Ofcom’s complaints data are set out in the report.
4. 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.
5. Advice for consumers on how to complain about a provider can be found on Ofcom’s website.
6. Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications, wireless communications and postal services.
*Following our previous report in which we proposed to change the way in which we report on mobile complaints, the report now includes data which distinguishes between mobile phone complaints from ‘pay monthly’ (or ‘contract’) customers and ‘pay-as-you-go’ customers.
This captures the relative performance of operators more accurately, as pay-monthly customers are more likely to complain to Ofcom than pay-as-you-go customers, with around 95 per cent of mobile complaints received by Ofcom coming from pay-monthly customers. The ratios between pay-monthly and pay-as-you-go customers also vary significantly across the different mobile providers.
Update to this news release: In November 2014 Ofcom removed pay monthly mobile data from complaints reports dating back to Q2 2012, after some historical data inaccuracies were identified. For further information, see Ofcom’s report on complaints for Q2 2014.