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December 19, 2011

Who’s been a naughty boy then? Ofcom releases telco complaints data (Updated)

Ofcom has released its data on complaints from consumers across fixed line broadband services and mobile services, and the results aren’t pretty for Talktalk and 3 Mobile.

By Allan Swann

Ofcom has released its data on complaints from consumers across fixed line broadband services and mobile services, and the results aren’t pretty for TalkTalk and 3 Mobile.

TalkTalk remains the most complained about fixed broadband company, with 0.55 complaints per 1000 customers. The best were Sky and Virgin, which held 0.19. Ofcom says TalkTalks complaints were largely driven by line faults and other service issues. It has however improved significantly since quarter four 2010, where it had double the complaints of the next worst competitor, BT Retail.

TalkTalk has had a rough year, after it was fined £3m by Ofcom in August for incorrect billing practises which saw 65,000 of its customers overcharged. TalkTalk claims it has been working on the problem.

"It’s encouraging that complaints continue to come down… Our own data shows ongoing improvement with a 40% year-on-year reduction in customer service calls and 75% of calls now being resolved on first contact. We remain committed to providing good service and best value and, while there is clearly more work to be done, we’re pleased that customers are starting to see the benefits of the changes we continue to make," a TalkTalk spokesperson told CBR.

Mobile services fares much better, Ofcom noting that ‘mobile complaint levels are much lower than for landline and fixed broadband services.’

3 Mobile remains the most complained about provider, with 0.14 complaints per 1000 customers – double Orange, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone on 0.07. O2 remains the best of the providers, with 0.02 complaints, which means it has held the leading position for the entire year.

The complaints against 3UK have been largely driven by complaints relating to disputed charges and customer service issues. There has also been an increase in complaints against Virgin Mobile over the last quarter which saw it jump from 0.05 to 0.07. Ofcom says this rise was driven by billing and customer service issues.

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Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for UK communications industries. This edition of the quarterly Telecom Complaints Report covers July to September 2011. On average, Ofcom receives over 300 telecoms complaints a day from consumers, which are usually made when a consumer has been unable to resolve an issue with their provider to their satisfaction. It does not include complaints to providers directly.

Ofcom also publishes a customer satisfaction survey.

[Edit: This story has been updated to include TalkTalk’s response]

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