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Vodafone, Three and ID Mobile Are the Most Complained About Telecoms Providers

Vodafone’s broadband service has once again attracted the most consumer complaints, topping Ofcom’s ignominious quarterly league table for the sixth time in two years.

In the mobile market, Three and ID Mobile, which piggyback’s on Three’s network, drew the most customer gripes between October and December.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom doesn’t handle individual customer complaints like the Ombudsman Services and CISAS do. However, it does monitor complaint numbers and publish them quarterly and can take action if enough consumers raise an issue. 

After being overtaken by TalkTalk as the most moaned-about ISP in the third quarter of 2020, Vodafone returned to its usual place as the broadband market’s villain in Q4. Between October and December, it drew 30 complaints per 100,000 customers, nearly double the market average of 16. 

Around half (49%) of these complaints were about faults, service and provisioning. Customers were also annoyed by Vodafone’s handling of complaints (23% of complaints) and its billing, pricing and charges (13%).

The high volume of complaints hasn’t slowed the growth of the mobile network’s home broadband arm. Buoyed by eye-catching prices and full-fibre plans, Vodafone signed up 38,000 broadband customers in the third quarter of the 2020-21 financial year, roughly the period in which it was drawing the most complaints. 

Vodafone had reached 876,000 broadband accounts by the end of 2020, more than half (450,000) of which also hold a mobile plan from the operator. It’s expected to top one million broadband customers by the end of 2021.

Virgin Media (23 complaints per 100,000 customers), Plusnet (21) and TalkTalk (19) also got on the nerves of customers.

But EE once again demonstrated that a mobile operator can successfully run a broadband service, attracting just six complaints per 100,000 customers for its service. Sky also performed well, with seven complaints per 100,000 accounts.

Sky is also delivering the best pay TV service, with just one customer complaint per 100,000 customers. On the other end of the spectrum, Virgin Media’s TV service generated 12 complaints per 100,000 accounts, more than double the industry average of five.

In the mobile market, Tesco Mobile continued its reign as the least-complained-about provider. With no-nonsense plans and a commitment to never hiking prices mid-contrast, Tesco Mobile drew just one complaint per 100,000 accounts in the survey period.

Sky Mobile, EE and O2, all with two complaints per 100,000 customers, were also on their best behaviour.

But customers were irked by Three and ID Mobile, filing six complaints per 100,000 customers, double the market average. Nearly a third (30%) of Three’s complaints were about billing, pricing and charges. Notably, Three is the only major mobile operator which hasn’t signed onto a voluntary commitment to automatically discount the bills of customers who are out of contract. It was also recently ranked the worst of the four mobile networks by Which?.

Virgin Mobile is also letting its customers down, prompting them to file five complaints per 100,000 customers, and Vodafone is also stumbling in the mobile market, with a similar number of gripes.

Overall, the total volume of complaints about broadband increased during the fourth quarter of 2020, which corresponded with the second national lockdown, when customers again became reliant on their home broadband for work, education and socialising. 

85% of customers are satisfied with their broadband service, while 93% approve of their mobile provider.

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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