In a quarterly report covering January to March 2023, Ofcom has published data on customer complaints about telecom and Pay-TV services, stating a slight quarterly increase overall.

Armita Satari

July 27, 2023

3 Min Read
TalkTalk and BT top Ofcom’s most complained-about providers

In a quarterly report covering January to March 2023, Ofcom has published data on customer complaints about telecom and Pay-TV services, stating a slight quarterly increase overall.

The UK regulator has published a couple of reports today which look at the broader UK telecoms market, including consumers’ views on telecom operators and their services as well as market trends on subscribers and revenues.

Looking at landline, fixed broadband, pay-monthly mobile and Pay-TV services across the UK, the publication on consumer complaints includes data on individual providers by service category, as well as the key drivers of complaints, including how complaints were handled, issues with changing providers, billing, pricing and charges, faults, service and provisioning.

This Ofcom report also shows a year-on-year increase in the relative volume of complaints in all service categories with fixed broadband services receiving the highest volume with 12 complaints per 100,000 subscribers, a 20% increase compared to the same quarter in 2022.

In a naming and shaming section it states TalkTalk is the most complained-about landline and fixed broadband provider due to faults, service and provisioning as well as how customer complaints had been handled by the service provider.

In the pay monthly mobile sector, BT Mobile takes over the reigns of most complained-about provider due to handling of complaints, alongside with issues arising when customers wanted to change providers. Here, it is worth reiterating though that BT Mobile does not include EE services, which are also owned by BT.

Turning to the Pay-TV sector, BT remained the most complained-about operator, while Sky got the fewest.

In fact Sky achieved the fewest complaints across all four service categories. In the pay monthly mobile sector, it shared that position with EE and Tesco Mobile.

“The slight increase in complaints across all services shows providers still have work to do when it comes to the quality of service they offer their customers” said Fergal Farragher, Ofcom’s Consumer Protection Director.

Farragher also highlighted one specific operator with regards to its improvements compared to previous iterations. “We’re pleased to see an improvement in Shell Energy’s performance following their previous appearances at the bottom of some of these tables, and in response to us engaging with them on improvements. However, these figures show they and other providers should strive for further progress.”

Data from its previous quarters shows Shell Energy dropping from 25 complaints per 100,000 subscribers to 10 in Q1 2023. Still tightly behind TalkTalk in the Landline complaints but with a significant improvement.

Ofcom has been publishing residential complaints data since 2011 on a quarterly basis. It aims to provide consumers with measures that, in addition to price comparison, can assist the assessment of quality and value for money when choosing a provider. It further notes that publishing this data ensures transparency and can incentivise service providers to improve on their performance, and in the case of Shell Energy it seems to have worked.

In other news, Ofcom published data on the UK telecoms market covering fixed and mobile revenues and subscriber trends and highlights.

It reports an increase of 261,000 broadband lines equalling a 0.9% year-on-year increase. It does not report on revenue growth in the fixed broadband sector but says the UK market observed a decrease of 8.2% in fixed voice service revenues which equates to £118 million year-on-year with BT holding nearly half of total voice revenues.

The number of fixed exchange lines has continuously fallen in favour of mobile telephony for many years and both here in the UK as well as many other markets globally. Additionally, standalone fixed broadband services have grown increasingly as technologies such as fibre and cable broadband have enabled the move away relying on fixed exchange lines for broadband access.

Revenues in mobile grew by 3.7% compared to last year, generating some £3.2bn in retail revenues in Q1 2023. The number of active mobile subscribers was also up (1.9%) compared to last year. The market trends observed here are unsurprising considering the ongoing price hikes on the back of inflation in the UK.

 

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