TalkTalk and Tesco Mobile have been named as the UK’s worst broadband and mobile providers respectively in Ofcom’s latest customer service survey.
The study by the media and broadcasting regulator, which looked at customer satisfaction, complaints and call-waiting times, found that for the third year running TalkTalk’s broadband customers received the worst treatment of any provider.
TalkTalk may have had the quickest call-waiting time – at an average of just 33 seconds – but only two-fifths (44%) of customers surveyed said they were satisfied with how their complaint had been handled. TalkTalk also ranked second in terms of most complaints to Ofcom – at 96 per 100,000 subscribers – well above the industry average of 58 and second only to BT-owned Plusnet at 101.
A breakdown of the three metrics considered by Ofcom showed TalkTalk to be the worst-performing broadband provider in all categories, from customer satisfaction to the proportion of customers with a reason to complain and satisfaction with complaints handling.
In the broadband customer service list, TalkTalk was worst, followed by BT, Sky, Virgin Media and BT-owned Plusnet, with EE coming out on top.
“In the case of TalkTalk, which continuously ranked poorly in terms of customer care at the tail end of last year, these figures aren’t particularly flattering,” said Dani Warner, a telecoms expert at the price comparison site uSwitch.com. “With providers increasingly unable to differentiate their offerings on broadband speeds alone, more pressure is falling on providers to ensure their customer service is good enough to attract and retain consumers.”
For mobile services, the level of satisfaction with providers was generally high, with an overall satisfaction rating across the industry of 93% and an average of only 4% of customers finding a reason to complain.
Tesco Mobile scored the worst for overall customer service among the eight providers surveyed, just behind Virgin Mobile. However, in all other respects Virgin Mobile fared significantly worse than all other providers for the second year running.
The survey found that Ofcom received more complaints per 100,000 mobile users (44) against Virgin Mobile than any other provider, and more than double the industry average of just 18. Tesco Mobile received just three complaints per 100,000 subscribers.
Overall, Virgin Mobile customers were least happy with how their complaints were handled: only two-fifths (44%) said they were happy with the outcome, with Tesco Mobile at 59%.
“Shabby service can be more than just frustrating, it can have a big impact on people and small businesses who rely on being connected,” said Lindsey Fussell, consumer group director at Ofcom. “When you’re shopping around for a phone or broadband service, quality can be just as important as price.”
Tesco Mobile and Giffgaff, which is owned by O2, were the most likely to be recommended by a customer to a friend for the second year in a row.
“We recognise there’s always more to be done and continue to work tirelessly to improve the service we give to our customers,” said a spokesman for Virgin Media, parent of Virgin Mobile.
Best broadband providers based on overall customer satisfaction
1. BT-owned EE
2. BT-owned Plusnet
3. Virgin Media
Best mobile providers based on overall customer satisfaction
1. O2-owned Giffgaff
2 = Vodafone and BT-owned EE
4 = Three and O2
6. Virgin Media
7. Tesco Mobile