Ofcom reveals best and worst consumer-ranked telecoms firms

TalkTalk has been named as one of the worst companies for customer service by its broadband customers, new research has revealed.

Landline consumers of Virgin Media also said they were the least satisfied when it came to the overall service whilst Three saw the biggest complaints from mobile customers, according to data from Ofcom.

Meanwhile, Tesco Mobile tops mobile satisfaction rankings, while Plusnet performs best for overall satisfaction with broadband and BT with landline performance.

Ofcom said the average number of customer complaints about broadband, mobile and landline providers fell in 2019.

Ofcom has spoken to customers to find out which firms they were most and least satisfied with

Ofcom has spoken to customers to find out which firms they were most and least satisfied with

Ofcom has spoken to customers to find out which firms they were most and least satisfied with

Lindsey Fussell, consumer group director at Ofcom, said: ‘Checking the quality of a phone or broadband provider’s customer service can be the difference between you signing up to a company that keeps you connected, or one that falls short.

‘Our research helps people to easily compare how providers perform on customer service, so they can choose the one that’s best for them.’

The telecoms watchdog’s annual customer service report looks at how each of the major providers performed last year on measures including customer complaints received, value for money and overall customer satisfaction.

The data is based on how companies performed up to January 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic unfolded. 

This year could see far more complaints as more people rely on their broadband and mobile connections to work from home. 

Complaints handling fieldwork was conducted between 4 December 2019 and 6 January 2020 with customers asked about complaints made between June 2019 and January 2020. 

Broadband

Overall, 85 per cent of broadband customers say they are satisfied with their service.

However, 12 per cent said they had a reason to complain about their service or provider, the same as in 2018, although people were more likely to be happy with how their complaints were handled than in 2018 – up to 53 per cent from 49 per cent.

Plusnet customers reported higher than average overall satisfaction with their broadband service, despite having to wait longer than average for their calls to be answered.

TalkTalk customers were less likely than average to be satisfied with their overall service and with the reliability of their service. 

They were also less likely than average to recommend their provider to a friend and less likely than average to be satisfied with how their complaint was handled.

Virgin Media customers had to wait the longest for their calls to be answered, at 4 minutes 26 seconds on average and were also less likely than average to be satisfied with how their complaint was handled. 

Plusnet customers reported higher than average overall satisfaction with their broadband

Plusnet customers reported higher than average overall satisfaction with their broadband

Plusnet customers reported higher than average overall satisfaction with their broadband

Mobile

Overall, more than nine in 10 customers say they are satisfied with their mobile phone service, with only three per cent of customers saying they had a reason to complain – down by one percent since 2018.

Tesco Mobile customers reported higher than average levels of overall satisfaction and were more likely than average to recommend their provider to a friend.

They also reported higher than average satisfaction with reception and value for money.

Three customers were less likely than average to be satisfied overall and less likely than average to recommend their provider to a friend.

They also had the longest average call waiting times and were less likely than average to be satisfied with their reception.

Giff Gaff customers, however, reported to be very satisfied with the value for money they received.  

Tesco Mobile customers reported higher than average levels of overall satisfaction to Ofcom

Tesco Mobile customers reported higher than average levels of overall satisfaction to Ofcom

Tesco Mobile customers reported higher than average levels of overall satisfaction to Ofcom

Landline

Overall, more than eight in 10 customers say they are satisfied with their landline service.

Only four per cent of landline customers say they had a reason to complain, an increase of one percentage point since 2018.

BT customers reported higher than average levels of satisfaction with the reliability of their landline service and higher satisfaction overall.

While Virgin Media customers reported lower than average levels of overall satisfaction and also experienced the longest average call waiting times. 

BT customers had higher than average levels of satisfaction with the reliability of their landline

BT customers had higher than average levels of satisfaction with the reliability of their landline

BT customers had higher than average levels of satisfaction with the reliability of their landline 

Ed Dodman, director of regulatory affairs at telecoms complaint handling body Ombudsman Services, said: ‘It’s encouraging to see higher levels of customer satisfaction with complaint handling in both broadband and mobile.

‘This report rightly identifies effective complaint handling as a key element of good customer service.

‘We will continue to work closely with both Ofcom and telecoms providers to promote improvements in complaint handling for the benefit of consumers.’

Ofcom introduced an automatic compensation scheme in April last year to ensure that, when things go wrong, people get money back from their provider without having to ask for it.

It said that between July and December 2019, the scheme saw over £20.7million paid out to broadband and landline customers who experienced problems with their services.

Most major providers have signed up to the scheme including BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media.

With the scheme, customers who haven’t had their service fixed after two full working days of a fault not being repaired will be compensated £8 for each day it is still ongoing. 

If an engineer doesn’t turn up for a scheduled appointment or cancel with less than 24 hours’ notice will receive £25 per missed appointment. 

Similarly, if a provider promises to start a new service on a particular date but fails to do so, customers will receive £5 for each calendar day of delay, including the missed start date.  

The watchdog is urging other providers to join the scheme to ensure that as many customers as possible can receive compensation when things go wrong.

Participating companies in the scheme have also now committed to annual increases in compensation in-line with inflation from April 2021 which means that people will continue to receive a fair amount in compensation when things go wrong.

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