BT tops UK's broadband complaints chart

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, Telcos, BT, EU, United Kingdom

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

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, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • BT is fine with Me

    I have been on BT Optic fibre since it came to my area (about three plus years) I get 70Mbs down and close to 20Mbs up works fine for me very very rarely down (I think three times since installation) My only criticism is cost, I feel sure that it could be cheaper and the phone charges certainly could.

    I also feel they should have some kind of reward system for customers that stay with them i.e. a small yearly discount
    The BarnOwl
  • I hate dealing with BT

    I shiver at the thought of dealing with BT when my customers have problems. They are all but useless. Their contractors are worse. One of my customers had a new fibre line fitted. Called in a road crew to dig up the car park to put in new ducting even though they already have fibre to the building. When back filling the hole they broke the main sewer pipe from the office causing all the toilets to over flow. Even then the ducting they installed was unsuitable for the bend radii of the fibre cable. BT roll up to terminate the cables only to find that the road crew had left the cable coiled up in the road duct because the ducting across the road was full. 6 weeks to do a 2 week job. I have many horror stories dealing with BT.
  • Not quick enough to deal with problems

    I have a BT landline with Fibre (to the cabinet) internet via BT Plusnet.

    I've been very happy with it, until I recently had a problem with my phone line becoming crackly intermittently, causing me to also lose the internet. The problem is that they are taking too long to fix it, and its taken me too many phonecalls. Their SLA seems to be so long, that any customer will be at the end of their tether by the time its fixed.

    In my case, I suspect its a simple fault outside the building, but its taken me nearly 2 weeks just to get them to step 1 - sending an engineer to investigate.

    Problems happen. Its how they deal with them, and how quickly, that matters.
    • I do not think there is an SLA on consumer broadband with BT

      They can take as long as they like, its up to the ISP to push them to get the problem fixed.
      • It's a phone problem that I can't get fixed

        It's so crackly sometimes that I can barely hear the caller. The internet is just a side effect of that.