Which broadband provider received the most complaints this year?

Choosing the right broadband provider can be hard work. With so many companies to choose from, all of them dangling tempting deals in front of you, how can you be sure that you are getting the best service? Luckily, there is a quick and easy way to find out.
Ofcom is the UK’s telecoms regulator. Every three months, the company releases a summary of the complaints it has received. This covers complaints about broadband, landline and mobile services, as well as paid television services. Looking at the volume of complaints received by each company is a great way to gauge the quality of its customer service, and its level of customer satisfaction.
The great thing about the report is that it is completely unbiased. Ofcom’s only motivation is ensuring great service across the board, so you can be sure that the figures provide an accurate snapshot of consumer feelings. With more and more providers to choose from, customers are increasingly basing their broadband and telephony decisions on customer satisfaction and customer service as well as price. It is also easier than ever to switch broadband providers, so modern customers are unlikely to put up with bad service for long.

Coping in a crisis

The latest Ofcom report is especially interesting because it covers the first quarter of 2020, including the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, millions of UK residents began working from home for the first time, greatly increasing the pressure on broadband services. Almost overnight, home broadband became essential for working and for communicating with friends and relatives who were stuck at home. This means that the latest figures give us a good idea of how well the various broadband providers can cope in a time of crisis. With another lockdown underway, this should be a key consideration for anyone shopping for broadband.

Complaints continue to fall

Let’s start with some good news. Even with the disruption of the COVID-19 outbreak, consumer complaints did not rise significantly during the first quarter of 2020. The volume of broadband and mobile complaints was the same as during the previous quarter, and landline and TV complaints actually fell. This was in spite of the virus taking a heavy toll on call centres and engineering capacity, suggesting that most companies rose to the challenge admirably.
Broadband complaints have always been higher than those for other services, but these have been consistently falling for years. This suggests that providers have learned the importance of good customer service and are getting better at meeting customer expectations. The coronavirus outbreak appears to have done little to change this trend, although it is worth remembering that the latest report only goes up to March. Things became considerably worse in the UK in April 2020, so the next report will be the real test for broadband providers.

A good report for Sky

The latest Ofcom report paints a positive picture of the broadband industry in general, but it is especially good news for Sky. The company was the only provider to perform better than average in every sector- broadband, mobile, landline and TV. Sky is one of only a few companies on the list that provides all four services, making its relatively low number of complaints even more impressive.

EE and Sky offer best broadband service

If we narrow the report down to look at only broadband complaints, Sky also performs well. The company received an average of 6 broadband complaints per 100,000 customers, just 50% of the average figure of 12 complaints per 100,00 customers. The only company to perform better in this area is EE, who received 3 complaints per 100,000 customers. This is just 25% of the industry average. Overall, EE and Sky broadband were the only two companies to receive less than the average number of broadband complaints. BT came in third with 12 complaints per 100,000 customers, matching the average figure exactly. Further down the list is Virgin Media with 13 complaints per 100,000 and Plusnet and Post Office, both with 16 complaints per 100,000.

A bad quarter for TalkTalk and Vodafone

At the other end of the broadband scale are TalkTalk and Vodafone. The two companies received 22 and 23 complaints per 100,000 customers respectively. This puts Vodafone at the very bottom of the list, with almost double the average number of broadband complaints.
This is sadly not unusual for Vodafone, who have received the highest number of broadband related complaints for the last four quarters. It is worth taking a closer look at the nature of these complaints to try and work out why Vodafone customers are so dissatisfied. Rather than one obvious area of weakness, customers seem to be equally unhappy with several aspects of the company’s service. 31% of the complaints involved service issues, 23% involved changing provider and 21% involved pricing changes and billing. Perhaps most tellingly, 22% of complaints were about the company’s handling of previous complaints. This suggests that there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to Vodafone’s customer service.

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