With Black Friday fast approaching, most broadband providers are launching early deals on their broadband and TV products. There are discounts and gift cards available on a number of broadband deals, but how can you be sure you’re getting the best deal and the best service from your new provider?
Ofcom is the regulatory board that oversees the telecoms market, ensuring that providers are acting fairly and are held accountable when their levels of service drop. Each quarter it releases a report of all the complaints made by customers directly to Ofcom about their provider, recording improvements in performance, connection issues, and which provider received the most complaints.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and our increased reliance on home broadband and phone services, customer service is more important than ever when it comes to choosing a broadband provider.
The latest report highlights the number of complaints made to Ofcom between April and June 2021. And as the UK’s lockdown restrictions began to ease, complaints fell across the board to levels not seen since before the pandemic.
Fergal Farragher, Ofcom’s Consumer Protection Director, said, “It’s encouraging to see complaints figures falling across the board to pre-pandemic levels, but providers cannot be complacent about their customer service.
“Those with a consistently high number of complaints still have a lot of work to do to ensure they meet the expectations of their customers.”
Once again, EE and Sky remain at the top of the list for telecom providers, receiving the least amount of complaints per 100,000 customers across the board.
EE received just four complaints per 100,000 customers for its broadband services and Sky received just five per 100,000. Similarly, EE received just two complaints per 100,000 customers about its landline services while Sky received just three.
Virgin Media is often seen at the bottom of these Ofcom league tables, but it’s encouraging to see that the provider saw its complaint volumes reduce significantly for broadband, pay-TV, landline and mobiles services. In previous quarters, Ofcom has raised concerns with Virgin Media about its customer service.
And while improvements have been made, it still received the most complaints about its pay-TV services, with the main cause for complaint being recorded as how the company handled their complaints.
When it comes to broadband, Virgin Media did slightly better than TalkTalk, who received the most complaints with 19 complaints per 100,000 customers for the quarter.
For TalkTalk customers, their main cause for complaint was faults and service issues.
Ernest Doku, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, says: “Customer complaints spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic as consumers depended on a reliable internet connection but struggled to contact their providers when things went wrong.
“These figures show that complaints have returned to pre-pandemic levels, and are close to the record lows we saw before ‘social distancing’ entered our vocabulary.
“It’s reassuring that customers are mostly satisfied with their broadband, mobiles and pay TV services, but providers still have work to do.
“Virgin Media is still the most complained about pay TV provider - ironically due to how it handled the customer complaints that came in.
“TalkTalk saw the most complaints for broadband and landline services, while Virgin Mobile topped the chart for mobiles.
“Ofcom’s report shows that more than four in ten of all fixed broadband complaints were about faults, service and provisioning. With so many households currently reliant on their internet connections for work, education and entertainment, it’s clear that providers have to do more to prioritise these types of problems.”
Even though Ofcom can’t resolve individual complaints, it’s a great source of advice, information and support if you’re unable to get a satisfactory resolution from your provider. However, contacting your provider should always be your first step.
“More than 15 million consumers suffered a broadband outage in the last year, so it’s clear that there are still issues that broadband providers need to deal with. If you’ve experienced a loss of service, make sure you raise the issue with your provider and take it to the relevant ombudsman if they can’t resolve your complaint.”
With Black Friday 2021 just a few weeks away, most of the UK’s broadband providers have already launched their Black Friday deals. You could get discounted rates, several months of bill credit and gift vouchers this November, making now the perfect time to switch if you’re unhappy with your provider.