Most complained about telecoms and pay TV providers

12 December 2013

Ofcom today published research on the volumes of complaints against the major telecoms and pay TV providers between July and September 2013.

This is Ofcom’s eleventh quarterly report, which aims to provide useful information for consumers and incentivise operators to improve their performance.

Overall, the total volume of telecoms and pay TV complaints made to Ofcom during the third quarter of 2013 increased slightly. Complaints about landline telephone, broadband and pay TV were higher than for the previous quarter.

Claudio Pollack, Director of Ofcom’s Consumer Group said:  “We’re committed to providing valuable and transparent information to help consumers make an informed decision when considering an alternative provider or a new service.

“We also hope this data will incentivise providers as they work to address issues driving complaints and improve their performance.”

Landline telephone services

In the landline telephone market, TalkTalk generated the most complaints during the third quarter of 2013, with 0.31 complaints per 1,000 customers.

TalkTalk complaints are at their lowest level since Ofcom first began publishing complaints data although still remain above the industry average. The main issues driving complaints were service faults and problems with changing provider.

BT also generated complaints in excess of the industry average at 0.23 per 1,000 customers in Q3 2013.

Both Sky and Virgin Media generated complaints below the industry average. Virgin Media had the fewest number of complaints, at 0.08 complaints per 1,000 customers, while Sky generated 0.11 complaints per 1,000 customers.

Landline telephone complaints per 1,000 customers, July 2011 – September 2013


Broadband services

During the third quarter of 2013, Orange/EE 1 generated the most complaints for broadband as a proportion of its customer base, at 0.45 per 1,000 customers – more than double the industry average. Complaints were mainly driven by problems with billing and service faults.

BT was the second most complained about broadband provider, generating above average complaints at 0.41 per 1,000 subscribers. TalkTalk also generated complaints in excess of the industry average, at 0.27 for every 1,000 customers.

Virgin Media’s service attracted fewest complaints (0.08 per 1,000 customers) followed by Sky (0.09 per 1,000 customers).

Fixed broadband complaints per 1,000 customers, July 2011 – September 2013


Pay-monthly mobile telephone services

Removed while data checks being conducted.

As Ofcom has not received more than 30 complaints per month about any pay-as-you-go mobile provider, we have not included separate data for these. However, Ofcom continues to closely monitor levels of complaints for pay-as-you-go mobile. 

Pay TV services 2

From July to September 2013, Ofcom received the most complaints about BT TV (formerly BT Vision 3) at 0.56 complaints per 1,000 subscribers – more than doubling from 0.26 in the previous quarter.

Complaints about BT TV peaked in August 2013, of which almost half were about BT Sport which launched on 1 August 2013.  Overall complaints about BT TV were primarily related to service issues and complaints handling.

The relative positions of Virgin Media and Sky remained the same as for the previous quarter. Virgin Media’s complaints were below industry average at 0.05 per 1,000 customers, while Sky had the lowest number of complaints – 0.02 per 1,000 customers.

Pay TV complaints per 1,000 customers, October 2011 – September 2013


Note difference in scale to landline and broadband services



  1. Complaints volumes for Orange and EE broadband services now reported as a single combined entity due to brand consolidation
  2. Since Q1 2012 Ofcom has published Pay TV complaints for October 2011 onwards for BT TV (formerly BT Vision), Virgin Media and Sky.  BT launched BT Sport on 1 August 2013 which is available to customers through a number of different platforms including BT TV, Virgin Media and Sky. Customers that receive BT Sport through Virgin Media pay Virgin directly for the service. In all other cases, customers that receive BT Sport via any other platform, including Sky, pay BT directly for the service. In light of this, the data reported for BT TV includes complaints about BT Sport lodged by BT TV customers. Similarly the data reported for Virgin Media includes complaints made by its customers about its provision of BT Sport. The data reported for Sky does not include complaints about BT Sport because Sky customers who watch BT Sport do so by subscribing directly to BT Sport. Complaints from online subscribers of BT Sport are not included in the pay TV complaints data, as these customers are not receiving the service via a traditional pay TV platform.
  3. BT started rebranding to BT TV around September/October 2013. BT no longer uses BT Vision as a brand.
  4. 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.
  5. 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; 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.
  6. Advice for consumers on how to complain about a provider can be found on Ofcom’s website.
  7. Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications, wireless communications and postal services.
  8. For further information about Ofcom please visit: Ofcom’s news releases can be found at: