BT was the most complained-about broadband provider in the fourth quarter of 2013, the first time it has occupied this unwanted position.
Data from Ofcom for the last three months of 2013 showed that BT generated 0.32 complains per 1,000 customers, most caused by service faults and how these issues were handled by the firm. The complaint figure for BT was down from 0.41 in the third quarter, though.
Libby Barr, managing director of customer service at BT Consumer, said she was disappointed with performance. She claimed that an influx of new customers had posed some issues and that the firm was taking on new staff to address these problems.
"As we process more transactions we have unfortunately suffered more disruption than companies with a static or declining customer base," she said. “We have hired 2,000 extra engineers and are bringing jobs back to the UK and investing in new systems and processes.”
EE was the second most complained-about provider with 0.29 complaints per 1,000, and TalkTalk came third with 0.21. Both were above the industry average of 0.17. Virgin Media was the best provider with 0.07 complaints, and Sky received 0.08 per 1,000.
Meanwhile in the mobile market Orange received the most complaints with 0.12 issues raised per 1,000 customers, which Ofcom said mostly related to billing issues. T-Mobile was just behind on 0.11.
These brands are part of EE, suggesting that the firm is still facing issues merging its two customer bases.
EE said it was disappointed by the results but was already in the process of introducing changes to try and make improvements.
“We have an ongoing programme to improve service performance– including the creation of 1,000 customer service roles across the UK and a £50m systems investment - that underlines our determination to offer our customers the best service at all times.”
Meanwhile Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media’s CEO, said the firm would continue to try and build on its position by reducing complaints as much as possible: "We are always striving to improve and are working hard to deliver the best customer experience every time."
The industry average for the mobile market was 0.06, and Virgin Mobile came just above this with 0.07 complaints per 1,000 customers. Vodafone (0.05), Three (0.033) and O2 (0.029) all scored below the average.
Despite the problems providers have caused customers, the data from Ofcom published over the past 12 quarters shows a clear improvement in the number of complaints in all areas of research, which also includes pay TV and landline services.
Claudio Pollack, director of the Consumer Group at Ofcom, said its efforts to chart customers' complaints was having a clear impact on firms by forcing them to address issues faster. “This report acts as a significant incentive to providers to work to address issues driving complaints and deliver an improved quality of service to their customers," he said.
“We’re committed to giving consumers valuable information to help them choose a provider that best suits their needs. Consumer complaints also help us to identify where enforcement action is needed and ensure that providers comply with our rules.”
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