Telecoms and pay-TV complaints from January to March 2012

27 June 2012

Ofcom today published its latest complaints data, covering telecoms providers and, for the first time, pay TV services.

The fifth quarterly report shows which providers have generated the most complaints to Ofcom1. The research aims to provide useful information for consumers and also to incentivise operators to improve their performance.

Since the report was first published in April 2011, it has included telecoms companies providing broadband, landline and mobile telephone services. This report, covering the first quarter of 2012, is the first to include complaints relating to the provision of pay TV services.

The data covers telecoms and pay TV providers with a market share greater than 4 per cent2. For pay TV, this accounts for three companies: Sky, Virgin Media and BT Vision. The telecoms data now covers 18 months, allowing consumers to check providers' performance over a sustained period of time.

Overall, complaint levels are much lower for pay TV and mobile telephony than for landline telephony and broadband services.

Pay TV services

From January to March 2012, Ofcom received the most complaints about BT Vision, with 0.27 complaints per 1,000 customers. The figures for Virgin Media and Sky were 0.07 and 0.03 respectively.

Graph of pay-TV complaints per 1,000 customers, Oct 2011 – Mar 2012

Pay TV complaints per 1,000 customers, Oct 2011 – Mar 2012

Ofcom analysis suggests a number of reasons for the relatively high number of complaints about BT Vision, including issues related to their sales processes and problems with billing. We note, however, that BT Vision improved its performance quarter-on-quarter.

Landline telephone services

In the landline market, Ofcom received the most complaints over the three months from customers of TalkTalk Group, with 0.72 complaints per 1,000 customers. The least complained about provider in the same period was Virgin Media, with 0.16 complaints per 1,000 customers.

This is the sixth consecutive quarter during which TalkTalk and Virgin Media have attracted the most and fewest complaints respectively about landline services. However, TalkTalk received its fewest quarterly complaints in the three months to March 2012.

Graph of landline telephony complaints per 1,000 customers, Oct 2010 – Mar 2012

Landline telephony complaints per 1,000 customers, Oct 2010 – Mar 2012

Broadband services

As in previous quarters, the data shows TalkTalk was the most complained about broadband provider in the period, generating 0.56 complaints per 1,000 customers over the quarter.

Sky's broadband service attracted fewest complaints – 0.15 per 1,000 customers. Graph of Fixed broadband complaints per 1,000 customers, Oct 2010 – Mar 2012

Fixed broadband complaints per 1,000 customers, Oct 2010 – Mar 2012

Mobile services

In the mobile market, Ofcom received the most complaints in the period from customers of 3UK, with 0.14 complaints per 1,000 customers. For the sixth consecutive quarter, O2 was the least complained about mobile provider with 0.02 complaints per 1,000 customers.

Graph of mobile telephony complaints per 1,000 customers, Oct 2010 - Mar 2012

Mobile telephony complaints per 1,000 customers, Oct 2010 - Mar 2012

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1.  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.

2.  Advice for consumers on how to complain about a telecommunications provider can be found on Ofcom's website.

3.  The source for pay-TV market share is Screendigest, 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.

4.  The limitations of Ofcom's complaints data are set out in the report.