Telecoms and Pay TV Complaints Q2 (April to June) 2013

Published 27|09|13

1.1 Ofcom’s principal duty is to further the interests of citizens and consumers, where appropriate by promoting competition. In doing so we must have regard to the interests of consumers in relation to price, quality of service and value for money. Consumer information plays a critical role in promoting effective competition and the absence of key information can lead to poor purchasing decisions and inhibit switching.

1.2 On average, Ofcom receives around 250 telecoms complaints a day from consumers.Such complaints are likely to be made where a consumer has been unable to resolve an issue with their provider to their satisfaction. We keep a record of these complaints by service and by provider, and believe that such information is useful for consumers; for example, this data may be relevant to those considering a new service or provider. We note that provider-specific information is also available to guide consumers in areas such as financial services and energy.

1.3 This is the latest edition in a series of quarterly complaints publications. We previously published data for each quarter between October 2010 and December 2012. This publication now provides data for the quarter April 2013 to June 2013.

1.4 There are a number of important limitations that apply to the complaints information we publish, in particular:

  • The data only covers complaints that consumers have chosen to report to Ofcom, and does not represent complaints consumers may have made directly to their providers or to other agencies (e.g. Alternative Dispute Resolution schemes). As such it will only provide a partial picture of complaints relating to any provider.
  • The complaints data reflects the views of consumers as reported to Ofcom. Ofcom has sought to ensure that its data is sound but has not checked the veracity of individual complaints.
    Contact with Ofcom may reflect the relative quality of complaints handling services, as well as the quality of service received. Given this, companies with poor complaints handling processes may feature more prominently than those with good complaints handling processes.
  • Ofcom may see spikes in call volumes from customers of certain providers when we publicise certain types of enforcement action (e.g. investigations, fines).

1.5 The next publication will include data for the period July to September 2013 and is expected to be published in December 2013. 

1.6 Stakeholders should consider both the monthly and quarterly data carefully when comparing providers’ performance. This publication only includes complaints data for providers with a market share of 4% or above and those which regularly generate more than 30 complaints per month. As providers vary in size we publish complaints as a proportion of subscribers.[1] Presenting the complaint numbers in this manner ensures that meaningful comparisons can be made between the data for each provider.

1.7 The main findings for the current reporting period (Q2 2013) are as follows:

  • Overall Complaints: The total volume of complaints fell due to reductions in fixed-line and broadband complaints. Broadband services generated the highest relative number of complaints compared to the other services featured in this report, with the fewest complaints made about mobile ‘pay-as-you-go’ (PAYG) services.
  • Fixed line telephony: The providers covered here are BT Retail, Sky, TalkTalk Group and Virgin Media. TalkTalk Group generated the highest relative volume of complaints and these related mainly to service faults and customer service issues. BT was equal to the industry average whilst Virgin Media received fewer complaints than the other fixed line providers that we report on.
  • Fixed broadband: The providers covered here are BT Retail, Sky, TalkTalk Group, Virgin Media and Orange/EE[2]. Orange/EE generated the largest relative volume of complaints and these related mainly to changing provider and billing issues. TalkTalk Group and BT also generated above industry average complaint levels whilst Virgin Media received fewer relative complaints than the other fixed broadband providers that we report on.
  • Mobile pay-monthly telephony (excluding mobile broadband datacards and dongles): Removed whilst data checks are conducted.
  • Mobile PAYG telephony: None of the providers that we report on generated an average of 30 complaints or more a month over this quarter. We therefore maintain our position of not publishing provider specific data for this service.
  • Pay TV services: The providers covered here are Sky, BT Vision, and Virgin Media. Ofcom received fewest complaints over the quarter about Sky and the most complaints about BT Vision. Complaints about BT Vision were driven mainly by service issues and complaints handling. Virgin Media generated industry average complaint levels.

Footnotes:

  1.- Complaints are displayed per 1000 customers. This enables the providers to be compared on a like-for-like basis.

  2.- We report on Orange and EE as a combined provider as Orange’s existing fixed broadband customers are being transitioned onto ‘EE’ products.

The full document is available below