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TalkTalk and Three Top Telecoms Complaints Table


Britons are most dissatisfied with TalkTalk’s home broadband service and Three’s mobile plans, Ofcom’s quarterly release of complaints figures has revealed.

The regulator received more consumer complaints about TalkTalk than about any other ISP during the second quarter of the year: 22 per 100,000 customers. 

41% of the gripes related to TalkTalk’s own handling of complaints, while its subscribers were also annoyed about faults and poor service (33%) and billing, pricing and charges (16%).

Ofcom’s annual rankings of telecoms providers by consumer satisfaction, released in August, also found TalkTalk was the worst performer, with just 78% of its customers reporting satisfaction.

TalkTalk was also the second most-griped about broadband provider during the first three months of the year, behind Vodafone. Vodafone became the second-worst offender among the internet providers this round, with 21 complaints per 100,000 customers. Post Office attracted the third most complaints, 16 per 100,000.

On the other end of the spectrum, EE and Sky Broadband attracted the fewest number of complaints, three and four per 100,000 customers, respectively. 

The average across all broadband providers was ten per 100,000, down from 12 in the first quarter of the year, suggesting that the country’s ISPs have performed respectably during the pandemic, when we became more dependent than ever on their service for work, communication and entertainment. Overall, 85% of home broadband subscribers were satisfied with their service, unchanged from the first quarter.

But TalkTalk blamed the coronavirus crisis for the high volume of complaints it in particular attracted. A spokesperson told ISPreview: “As Ofcom notes in its report, the sudden lockdown restrictions introduced in the UK and overseas at the start of the pandemic meant that our customer services were significantly impacted, as they were across the industry. Our priority was the safety of our colleagues and partners. These were exceptional figures in exceptional circumstances. 

“We’re pleased that service levels are now back up to normal and that we’ve seen some of our highest ever customer satisfaction levels during the past few months.”

In the mobile market, Three topped the naughty list, with six complaints per 100,000 customers. The main drivers of complaints about the mobile operator were complaints handling (30%), problems switching provider (22%) and issues related to billing, pricing and charges (21%).

Three also posted the lowest consumer satisfaction score in the yearly league tables in August, with 89% of its customers approving of its service, compared to the industry average of 93%.

Virgin Mobile (five complaints per 100,000), Vodafone (four) and BT Mobile (four) also drew consumers’ ire.

Tesco Mobile continued its long run as the nation’s least complained about mobile provider, with just 0.4 complaints per 100,000 customers. EE and Sky Mobile, with one complaint per 100,000 customers each, also earned the approval of their subscribers. The industry average stood at three complaints per 100,000.

In the pay-TV market, Virgin Media dropped the ball this spring, overtaking BT as the most complained about provider. Customers were particularly annoyed with Virgin Media’s handling of complaints: nearly half (49%) of complaints received by Ofcom were about this.

Sky remained the perennial favourite, with just one complaint about its TV services per 100,000 subscribers.

Ofcom doesn’t directly handle telecoms complaints like the Ombudsman Services and CISAS do, but it does monitor them and can take action if enough consumers raise an issue. It received 84,000 calls and items of correspondence directly from consumers in the 2019-20 financial year, down from the 96,000 received in 2018-19. Complaints were also down between the first and second quarters of 2020.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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