BT tops UK's broadband complaints chart

Summary:For the first time since Ofcom started collecting complaints statistics, BT has taken the top spot.

BT received more complaints about fixed broadband than any of its rivals in the UK, according to a new report, while Orange took the crown for most complaints in pay-monthly mobile services.

According to Ofcom complaint figures published on Wednesday, the regulator received complaints from 32 for every 100,000 of BT's fixed line broadband customers in the fourth quarter of 2013.

It's the first time BT has been the subject of more Ofcom complaints than rivals Sky, EE, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media. Ofcom has been collecting quarterly complaints data for three years.

During every quarter over the year prior, customers from EE have lodged the most complaints about broadband, according to Ofcom.

Complaints to BT were primarily about service faults and issues with how BT handled complaints.

"BT is disappointed with the results in broadband and TV, despite the fact that we've improved from last quarter," Libby Barr, BT's managing director of customer service, said.

"BT is the fastest growing business by far in the UK for both pay TV and broadband, and as we process more transactions we have unfortunately suffered more disruption than companies with static or declining customer bases." 

Barr added that BT had hired 2,000 extra engineers.

Still, BT's poor results have come as others other carriers have suffered major service disruptions as a result of BT's own Openreach network: for example last December's outage affecting 37,000 Sky broadband and voice customers and thousands EE customers. The outage happened after thieves, who were attempting to steal copper from one of BT’s exchanges, severed BT's wholesale Openreach fibres cables. A similar incident occurred this February.

BT also faces sanctions from Ofcom under recently-changed rules unless it fixes the majority of Openreach broadband and telephony faults within two days.  

While EE has managed to slash its complaint rate, it was still the second most complained about broadband provider, generating 0.29 per 1000 customers. In the same quarter last year 0.7 per 1000 EE customers filed complaints with Ofcom.

Meanwhile, Talk Talk attracted 0.21 per 1,000, while Virgin Media and Sky received 0.07 and 0.08 per 1,000 customers respectively.

Orange took the crown for the most complained about pay-monthly mobile service, recording 0.12 per 1,000 customers, followed by T-Mobile's 0.11 per 1,000 and Virgin Mobile's 0.07 per 1,000 customers.

The fewest complaints came from O2 and Three customers, with complaints from customers of the former operator at 0.029 per thousand and the latter at 0.033 per thousand.

"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," Claudio Pollack, drector of Ofcom's consumer group, said.  

He added: "Consumer complaints also help us to identify where enforcement action is needed and ensure that providers comply with our rules."

Read more on BT

Topics: Broadband, BT, EU, Telcos, United Kingdom

About

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, s... Full Bio

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