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Sky shining among UK telecoms, EE to pay one million pounds fine

Staff writer |
Ofcom, the communications regulator in the UK, published data on the volumes of consumer complaints made to Ofcom against the major providers of telecoms and pay TV services.

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In the landline telephone market, EE continued to generate the most complaints, with volumes increasing from 0.36 per 1,000 customers in Q4 2014 to 0.39 in Q1 2015.

The main complaint drivers for EE landline customers were problems changing provider (33%), concerns about faults, service and provision (28%) and complaints handling (18%).

BT, Plusnet and TalkTalk also generated landline complaint volumes above the industry average of 0.13 per 1,000 customers. The level of complaints from Post Office HomePhone customers (0.13) was in line with the industry average.

Sky (0.05 per 1,000 customers) and Virgin Media (0.07 per 1,000 customers) attracted landline complaints volumes below the industry average. Sky generated the lowest number of landline customer complaints.

EE generated the most complaints for broadband as a proportion of its customer base during the first quarter of this year, with 0.51 per 1,000 customers.

This reflected an increase in complaints about EE’s broadband since Q4 2014 (0.42 per 1,000 customers in Q4 2014), and the highest level of complaints since Q1 2013.

Problems relating to faults, service and provision (37%), billing, pricing and charges (20%) and complaints handling (20%) were the main drivers of complaints about EE broadband.

BT, Plusnet and TalkTalk all generated complaint volumes above the industry average, with TalkTalk also seeing a complaints increase (up to 0.26 per 1,000 customers).

Virgin Media complaints (0.09 per 1,000 customers) were below the industry average, but had increased since Q4 2014 (0.06 per 1,000 customers).

Sky’s relative complaint volumes (0.05 per 1,000 customers) fell below Virgin Media’s, making it the best performing broadband provider.

Vodafone continued to generate the highest volume of mobile complaints per 1,000 customers (0.14), a similar level to Q4 2014.

The main drivers of Vodafone complaints were problems with billing, pricing and charges (33%), complaints handling (29%) and concerns around faults, service and provision (16%).

Both EE and Talk Mobile also generated complaints volumes higher than the industry average (0.10 and 0.11 per 1,000 customers respectively), although both providers did see a reduction in complaints since Q4 2014.

Virgin Mobile, O2, Three UK and Tesco Mobile all generated complaints volumes below the industry average of 0.08 per 1,000 customers. Tesco Mobile generated the lowest volume of complaints per 1,000 customers (0.01) for the fourth consecutive quarter.

BT continued to generate the highest volume of pay TV complaints per 1,000 customers (0.15).

TalkTalk Group generated the second-highest complaints volumes (0.12 per 1,000 customers) and saw an increase in complaints since Q4 2014.

The number of complaints against Virgin Media was in line with the industry average (0.04 per 1,000 customers).

Sky was the only provider to generate fewer complaints than the industry average (0.01 per 1,000 customers), and it remained the best-performing pay TV provider.

On average, Ofcom receives just under 300 telecoms complaints a day from consumers.

Ofcom fined EE £1,000,000 for failing to comply with Ofcom’s rules on handling customer complaints.

The investigation into EE (trading as 4GEE, Orange and T-Mobile) is part of Ofcom’s wider monitoring and enforcement programme to ensure communications providers are dealing with customer complaints appropriately and fairly.

Ofcom’s investigation found that, over the period investigated - from 22 July 2011 to 8 April 2014 - EE did not provide certain customers with accurate or adequate information about their right to take their complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme.

EE failed to send out written notifications to a number of customers that should have referenced their right to take their complaint to ADR eight weeks after they first raised their complaint.

EE also failed to state in its Customer Complaints Code that, where relevant, customers could access its ADR scheme by requesting a ‘deadlock letter’.

A number of customers who had requested a ‘deadlock letter’ during this time were not sent them as required, and in some cases customers were told by EE that letters of this type were not issued.

In addition, between July 2011 and February 2014, EE sent paper bills to Orange customers and written notifications to Orange, 4GEE and T-Mobile customers that did not reference that they can use its ADR scheme for free.


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