UK communications regulator Ofcom has released its Q3 2020 report on broadband complaints, which names Vodafone as the most complained-about provider.
The report, gathered during July to September 2020, covers complaints Ofcom received as the first national lockdown came to an end and initial restrictions started to ease. Schools and places of further education re-opened in September. However, although more people were going to their workplaces, many continued to work remotely where possible.
In Q2, during the peak period of coronavirus disruption, Ofcom reported a drop in the number of complaints it received about landline, fixed broadband, pay monthly mobile and pay TV services. Like other UK businesses, coronavirus had affected the operations of telecoms and pay TV providers, including their call centres and engineering capacity. Telecoms providers prioritised the protection of vulnerable consumers, encouraging customers to contact them only with urgent issues.
As providers’ operations recovered in Q3 2020, Ofcom saw complaints about landline, fixed broadband, pay-monthly mobile and pay TV services rise back to volumes comparable to those prior to the pandemic. In particular there was an increase in complaints about faults, service and provisioning issues in relation to landline, fixed broadband and pay TV. Ofcom suggests that these trends might reflect the fact that as providers’ call centre capacity improved, more consumers were able to lodge complaints about their services and, in turn, may have contacted the regulator.
In terms of number of broadband complaints per 100,000 subscribers in Q3, Vodafone generated the highest volume at 26, followed by Plusnet at 23 and Virgin Media at 20. Almost half of complaints across fixed broadband providers were about faults, service and provisioning issues (48%). The other main drivers were complaints handling (25%) and issues relating to billing, pricing and charges (14%).
At the other end of the table, Sky received the fewest complaints, with 6 per 100,000 subscribers, and EE received 7.
Commenting on the report, Nick Baker, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, said: “Broadband complaints have increased to levels not seen since 2018, after years of falling customer concerns. Vodafone has the highest broadband complaints rate, while other providers including Plusnet and BT saw their figures more than double. TalkTalk and Post Office were the only two broadband providers to see complaint rates fall. Ofcom’s report shows that almost half 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.
“Last year almost five million people suffered a broadband outage that persisted for more than three hours. If you are unhappy with the service you're receiving and you haven’t been able to resolve the complaint directly with your provider, you can take it to the relevant ombudsman who will independently investigate your complaint.”