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TalkTalk and Virgin Mobile Shamed by Ofcom for Customer Complaints

Telecoms customers are most aggravated by TalkTalk and Virgin Mobile, the latest round of consumer complaints figures from Ofcom reveals.

The regulator publishes quarterly updates on the number of complaints it receives from customers about broadband, landline, pay TV, and mobile providers. While it doesn’t handle complaints itself, it monitors them and can intervene if enough consumers bring an issue to its attention. In the 2020-21 financial year, Ofcom directly received 96,051 calls and items of correspondence from consumers.

Between April and June of this year, broadband customers were most commonly writing to Ofcom about budget ISP TalkTalk. The ISP received 19 complaints per 100,000 customers, supplanting Virgin Media as the most whined-about broadband provider.

30% of the moans about TalkTalk referred to faults, service, and provisioning, while 22% of complaints were in response to TalkTalk’s own handling of complaints. Another fifth were about billing, pricing, and charges.

Virgin Media (17 complaints per 100,000 customers), Plusnet (15), and Vodafone (13) also posted complaint volumes above the industry average of 12 per 100,000 customers. 

However, Vodafone Broadband showed dramatic improvement. The mobile giant’s broadband business fell out of the worst or second-worst spot for the first time since the third quarter of 2018, when its subscriber base passed the threshold to be included in the table.

Meanwhile, Sky Broadband (5 complaints per 100,000 customers) and EE (4) continued their long-running reign as the country’s least griped-about ISPs.

Virgin Media’s Pay TV services, often bundled with its broadband, were also a source of annoyance for subscribers. Virgin Media TV drew nine complaints per 100,000 customers between April and June. However, this is significantly lower than the 17 registered during the first quarter of the year.

Sworn rival Sky performed considerably better, earning just one complaint per 100,000 customers.

Virgin faltered again in the mobile market. Virgin Mobile was the most moaned-about mobile provider in the spring, with four complaints sent into Ofcom for every 100,000 customers. 

Virgin Media acknowledged it “still has more work to do.” 

“We are continuing to invest in new customer service roles and digital tools and are reviewing our processes and policies to deliver the service and experience that our customers rightly expect from us,” a spokesperson added.

Three and Vodafone each drew three complaints per 100,000 customers, above the mobile industry average of two.

EE was the best-performing major mobile operator, with just one complaint per 100,000 customers - level with Sky Mobile and perennial favourite Tesco Mobile.

A spokesperson for EE said: “Our customers already know we provide the best customer service across the industry, and these results reflect the hard work of our teams in UK and Ireland contact centres and retail stores providing the best personal and local service. EE customers also enjoy being part of the UK’s biggest and fastest network. With more 5G coverage than any other provider, EE has been named the UK’s best network for the past 8 years by RootMetrics.”

Meanwhile EE parent company BT celebrated a drop in complaints. Its broadband arm saw complaints dip from 15 to ten per 100,000 customers, while its mobile arm, landline offering, and pay TV services also saw gripes fall. 

A BT spokesperson said: “BT is seeing fewer complaints than ever before and we’re dedicated to keeping our customers connected and providing great service with 100% of calls being answered in the UK and Ireland. We’re committed to helping our customers wherever they need us with our nationwide team of Home Tech Experts providing in-home support.”

Ofcom’s figures don’t reflect complaints submitted directly to a company, to a trade association like the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA), or to the Ombudsman Services or CISAS. 

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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