Virgin Media most complained about telco provider, Ofcom reveals

Broadband, Mobile phones, Smartphones, Telecoms

Today Ofcom has published the latest figures for complaints it has received about the UK’s main landline, broadband, mobile and pay-TV providers.

The figures cover the period from July to September last year, during which time it saw a slight rise in complaints. Complaints about landline, broadband and pay-TV services all increased, while mobile complaints remained at similar levels.

Key trends from Ofcom’s complaints figures

  • Virgin Media was the most complained-about provider across the broadband, landline and pay-TV categories, seeing significant rises across all these areas from the previous quarter.
  • Alongside Virgin Media, NOW Broadband and TalkTalk received higher-than-average numbers of complaints in landline while NOW Broadband also received higher-than-average complaints in broadband.
  • Sky continued to be the provider that attracted the fewest or joint fewest complaints per 100,000 subscribers across all four services we measure. This includes being the outright least complained-about provider in both broadband and landline.
  • TalkTalk and Sky were the least complained-about pay-TV providers.
  • O2 and BT Mobile were the most complained-about mobile operators. Complaints about O2 were primarily driven by how customers’ complaints were being handled while BT’s complaints were driven by customers’ experiences of changing provider. Sky Mobile, EE and Vodafone received the fewest complaints in the mobile sector.

A factor in Virgin Media’s complaints figures for this quarter was Ofcom’s announcement in July last year that it was launching an investigation into customers’ difficulties cancelling contracts and how it had handled complaints.

Commenting on the overall complaints data for this quarter, Fergal Farragher, Ofcom’s Consumer Protection Director, said:

“The slight increase in complaints on the previous quarter shows that providers must continue to focus on improving customer service.

“We acknowledge the impact of our investigation on Virgin Media’s complaints figures for this quarter, but are also aware that our investigation was in part based on complaints that customers had already made about Virgin Media’s services. We may publish updates on the investigation on our Enforcement Bulletin as the investigation progresses.”

 Adds a Virgin Media O2 spokesperson:

“Our number one priority is to provide an excellent service to our customers, and we accept that the rise in complaints in the third quarter falls far short of our expectations.

“As Ofcom acknowledges, the rise is largely due to its investigation announcement in July which subsequently generated a higher number of complaints than would ordinarily be expected. However, it should be noted that overall complaints about Virgin Media and O2 products still represent a very small proportion of our customer base.

“As well as engaging fully with Ofcom’s ongoing investigation, we are investing in every area of our business to give our customers the best possible experience, with a real focus on resolving any issues at the first time of getting in touch and making it easier for them to get support when they need it.”

Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie, comments: 

“The most recent data, documenting complaints from Q3 2023, paints a disheartening picture for Virgin Media, with the provider receiving nearly twice as many complaints as its closest broadband competitor, NOW Broadband.

“Last year, Virgin Media was plagued by service outages and is presently under investigation by Ofcom for alleged difficulties customers encountered when trying to cancel contracts. It looks like these issues have caught up with the provider.

“Complaints made against broadband, landline and pay-TV providers have been steadily increasing over the past two years, which shows there is an urgent need for them to get on the front foot and tackle the concerns raised by their customers.

“The easiest way that dissatisfied customers can escape from their broadband woes is to vote with their feet and switch. Virgin Media may be one of the fastest on the market, but as Openreach providers such as BT and Plusnet continue to roll out full fibre connections, and alternative networks such as Hyperoptic lead the way on speed and value for money, Virgin has strong competition. 

“Customers who are still in contract with their provider will find it difficult to switch without facing exit fees. If this is the case, look at the terms and conditions to find your expiry date and get it marked on the calendar. In the meantime, continue to liaise with your existing provider to see if you can iron out any service issues.”

Landline complaints per 100,000 subscribers. It illustrates the providers receiving the fewest complaints at the top of the table and those receiving the most complaints are placed at the bottom of the table. The results are as follows: Sky 2; Plusnet 7; Vodafone 7; EE 7; BT 7; Shell Energy 8; Industry Average 8; TalkTalk 10; NOW Broadband 11; Virgin Media 19.

Chris Price
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