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Ofcom Praise Sky and Virgin Media in Q2 2017 UK Consumer Complaints Study

Ofcom Praise Sky And Virgin Media In Q2 2017 UK Consumer Complaints Study

Broadband providers Virgin Media and Sky Broadband have today been praised by Ofcom‘s Q2 2017 UK consumer complaints report after they received fewer gripes than any other ISP for their service. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for BT and TalkTalk, which attracted the most complaints.1234

The report, which also examined Landline Phone, Mobile and Pay TV providers, notes that Ofcom5 continue to receive “nearly250 complaints per day (down from “nearly” 300 at the last report), although their study only includes feedback from the biggest providers (i.e. those with a market share of at least 1.5%). The data itself is reflected as a proportion of residential subscribers (i.e. the total number of quarterly complaints per 100,000 customers), which makes it easier to compare providers in a market where the biggest ISPs can vary significantly in size.

Overall the total volume of complaints across all service sectors has decreased during the first half of 2017 and this quarter sees the addition of BT Mobile’s pay-monthly product into the table, which occurs because the service has now achieved “sufficient market share“. By comparison with Q1 2017, the total volume of complaints decreased by four for landline services, decreased by three for fixed broadband services, and decreased by one for both pay-monthly mobile and pay-TV services. However fixed broadband and landline services continue to generate the highest number of complaints.

Jane Rumble, Ofcom’s Director of Consumer Policy, said:

“Complaints about telecoms and pay-TV may be falling this year, but some providers are falling a long way short on customer service. There can be no room for complacency. We expect providers, particularly those who have been consistently under-performing, to make service quality and complaints handling their number one priority.”

Take note, today’s report only covers complaints that the regulator itself has received and not those sent directly to an ISP or ombudsman.

Ofcom does not itself deal with individual complaints but they do monitor them and can take action if enough people raise a problem. Consumers who are unable to resolve a complaint with their communications provider can (after 8 weeks) raise a case with one of the two ombudsman providers – Ombudsman Services: Communications or CISAS – under the Alternative Dispute Resolution6 process (they will investigate the issue at no cost to yourself).

Fixed Line Home Broadband Complaints

Overall BT generated the highest relative complaint volumes in Q2 2017 and the main complaint drivers for them related to faults, service and provision issues, followed by complaints handling and billing, pricing and charges.However it has to be said that almost every provider saw a reduction in complaint volumes during Q2. By comparison Virgin Media7 and Sky Broadband8 all generated the lowest relative complaint volumes and remain below the industry average volume of complaints. Both operators have also just been joined by EE, which is a welcome development.

Ofcom Praise Sky And Virgin Media In Q2 2017 UK Consumer Complaints Study

Fixed Line Phone Complaints

In terms of phone line services, the most complaints were generated by TalkTalk9 and the Post Office10, which was largely due to complaints relating to faults, service and provision issues. Ofcom also believes that BT’s performance may be comparable to those two, although they show up as being lower because they used a different methodology to compile their subscriber figures. Once again EE, Sky Broadband and Virgin Media remain below the line and received the fewest complaints overall.

Ofcom Praise Sky And Virgin Media In Q2 2017 UK Consumer Complaints Study

Mobile Complaints

Both Vodafone11 and BT Mobile received the most complaints this quarter, although Vodafone12‘s complaint levels have dropped sharply over the past six months. Vodafone and BT’s main complaint drivers were gripes related to handling, followed by issues around billing, pricing and charges.

Ofcom Praise Sky And Virgin Media In Q2 2017 UK Consumer Complaints Study

Pay TV Complaints

Sadly BT continues to generate the highest relative volume of Pay TV complaints, although they have seen a big drop in the amount being received and that’s a positive development. The main driver of BT’s complaints related to faults, service and provision issues, complaints handling and billing, pricing and charges. On the flip side Sky TV received the fewest gripes of anybody and is the only operator below the line for industry average (that’s a good thing).

Ofcom Praise Sky And Virgin Media In Q2 2017 UK Consumer Complaints Study

Ofcom’s Complaints Report Q2 2017
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/../Telecoms-pay-TV-complaints-Q2-2017.pdf13

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References

  1. ^ Virgin Media (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  2. ^ Sky Broadband (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  3. ^ Ofcom (www.ofcom.org.uk)
  4. ^ TalkTalk (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  5. ^ Ofcom (www.ofcom.org.uk)
  6. ^ Alternative Dispute Resolution (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  7. ^ Virgin Media (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  8. ^ Sky Broadband (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  9. ^ TalkTalk (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  10. ^ Post Office (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  11. ^ Vodafone (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  12. ^ Vodafone (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  13. ^ https://www.ofcom.org.uk/../Telecoms-pay-TV-complaints-Q2-2017.pdf (www.ofcom.org.uk)

Cork homes and businesses being left behind for broadband access

Private high-speed broadband providers are holding the Government to “ransom”, according to a county councillor who has described the rollout in rural Cork as “abysmal”. Blarney-Macroom Cllr Kevin Conway (Ind) said some areas in his constituency had estates where fibre broadband was available in some households but not in others. The National Broadband Plan exists to provide high-speed connections to areas not considered commercial by private operators. However, some households in covered areas are still not being connected, councillors have said.

“The companies are holding the Government to ransom for more intervention. That is not the way it was planned and we need to start making noise on this,” said Cllr Conway.

“I’m inclined to think that by the time any rural areas get broadband fibre will be out of date.

I think it’s a national disgrace. People and businesses are depending on broadband,” he added. Independent Cllr Marcia D’Alton said the issue of staggered rollout was also affecting areas quite close to Cork city.

“People are trying to run businesses in Monkstown and they cannot get decent broadband. There is a fibre cabinet in the town which is yet to be switched on. It’s appalling and Monkstown, on a good day, is just 15 minutes from the city centre,” she said.

Cllr Des O’Grady (SF) said local representatives were receiving a lot of complaints from people who can’t access fibre broadband either from private companies or through the Government. Director of services at Cork County Council’s environment directorate Louis Duffy admitted the National Broadband Plan had been complicated by private companies.

“It’s quite a challenge to get the National Broadband Plan implemented in full. While it was reasonably well on target six months ago, some of the activity of private companies have brought an additional complexity into it,” he said.

“It’s reducing the numbers in the National Broadband Plan and I suppose overall it’s increasing the number of houses with broadband but it is making more and more challenging to find what is the final number where there will be need for State intervention.

“We have broadband officer in place and he is working within the environment directorate.

His primary role is in dealing with the Department and looking at the conditions on the ground.

“It is extremely disappointing that the programme is stretching and stretching and every time there is a commercial operator that offers to bring its services into another geographical area without subvention, it changes the terms of the tender in the project and reduces the number of houses that would be supported by the intervention of the Government,” he added.

How to save money on broadband and mobile phones

How much do we spend?

As our 24/7 reliance on technology has increased, so have the costs. According to the communications regulator, Ofcom, the average household spend on home phones, broadband and mobiles now stands at ?85.25 per month. According to Broadbandchoices.co.uk, customers switching broadband suppliers could save up to ?336 a year by getting the best deal, while Citizens Advice suggests mobile phone firms are selling customers contracts that cost on average 130% more than they need to.

Three simple must-dos

1 Try asking your current provider for a better deal If you don’t want the hassle of switching mobile phone or broadband providers, simply ask for a better deal. To succeed, you’ll need to be out of your minimum contract and preferably armed with information about cheaper deals from rival providers. Your aim should be to either get your existing package for a better price, or to get a better tariff for the same money. If your provider doesn’t budge, threaten to leave. More often than not you’ll be transferred to its cancellations – aka retentions – department. Here, staff have the power to offer better, unpublicised deals.

2 Don’t languish on old contracts Mobile phone and broadband contracts both tend to be for 12, 18 or 24 months. When you reach the end of your contract, obviously it may well pay to shop around for a better deal.

Broadbandchoices.co.uk has a service that reminds you when your contract is up. Providers typically reserve their best deals for new customers – so shopping around will allow you to access the better prices and perks on offer, says Vix Leyton from the site.

3 Don’t overpay It may sound obvious, but don’t pay for more than you actually use on any contract. Billmonitor has a tool that analyses your mobile phone usage and matches you to a better new contract. Light users might even find that a contract is not for them and they’d be better off on pay-as-you-go. The same goes for broadband deals, especially if you bundle in a TV service too. Do you really need 200-plus TV channels? Probably not.

Five easy ways to save

1 Question the need for speed Fibre optic broadband offers faster speeds than old-style ADSL but consider whether you really need a super-speedy connection. Virgin Media offers fibre optic up to 200MB – but you’ll only really need this if the whole household piles onto broadband at the same time, downloading films and gaming online. A 17MB connection will be adequate for most people – and cheaper.

To speed up a sluggish connection, upgrade your router and connect your desktop to the router via an ethernet cable rather than wifi.

2 Use your mobile for all calls Most mobile phone contracts include hundreds of minutes of calls, or unlimited calls, to other UK mobiles and landlines. Using your mobile for all your calls can negate the need to pay for calls on your landline.

3 Split handset and tariff According to HandsetExpert.com, customers are wasting an average of ?92 a year on smartphone contracts when they’d be better off buying a handset outright and pairing it with a sim-only tariff. If your phone’s working fine, try and resist the urge to upgrade it every time a new model comes out. There are some pretty cheap sim-only deals available – TPO has a rolling one-month contact offering 1GB data, 500 minutes and unlimited texts for ?3.99 a month.

4 Bundle vs unbundle Sky, BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk all offer bundles where you pay a monthly price for a phone line, broadband and a selection of TV channels (sometimes you can add a mobile too). But although it might be convenient, it might not be your cheapest option. MoneySavingExpert compares bundle prices with “unbundled” deals where you take different services from multiple providers. It also takes into account sign-up bonuses from providers to give a total cost for the first year of the contract. For instance, pairing a Sky, EE or Plusnet line rental and broadband deal with a Now TV pass is cheaper than any triple-play bundle on the market.

5 Use a cashback website If you decide to switch either mobile or broadband suppliers, it’s worth doing so via a cashback site. Topcashback and Quidco pay a reward when you click through from them to buy goods or financial products.

In general, the more pricey the contract, the more cashback you’ll get. To give you an idea, Topcashback is offering up to ?175 if you take out a BT quad-play bundle of broadband, calls, BT TV, and a sim-only mobile deal. But even just taking out a ?12 a month sim-only deal with Three can net you ?60 cashback – almost halving the cost for the year.

Advanced money-saving tip

Recommend a friend Virgin Media will knock ?50 off your bill if you’re a cable customer and refer a friend who signs up – they get ?50 off their bill too. You can make up to 25 referrals in any 30-day period. Sky’s deal is similar. Plusnet’s scheme gives customers a monthly discount for every person who joins following their recommendation. It varies on the product, but is normally 50p or 75p off their bill for each month the friend stays on as a customer.