Ofcom’s quarterly complaints bulletin shows that Vodafone continues to be the most complained about network in Q3 2016, with 18 complaints per 100,000 customers, compared to an industry average of 6 per 100,000.
However, the results do show Vodafone to be making further progress towards fixing their complaints and billings failures which landed them a £4.6 million fine in late October following a year long investigation by the regulator. From their Q4 2015 peak of 32 complaints per 100,000, their record improved each quarter with 29 complaints in Q1 and 23 in Q2.
A statement by Vodafone responding to the figures reads, 'The Ofcom report highlights the continued improvement in our customer services delivery, with the number of complaints to Ofcom down over 40% since the beginning of the year. We are making positive progress in customer services, with a 50% reduction in overall complaints this year, but fixing these issues is our highest priority for 2017.'
While the industry average shows a decline in complaints over the last quarter, this is mostly due to Vodafone’s improvements, masking the fact that complaints against nearly every other MNO and MVNO actually increased. Virgin Mobile’s complaints nearly trebled from Q2 to Q3, from three to eight per 100,000, while Talk Mobile, O2, EE and event industry leaders Tesco Mobile all received more complaints than in the previous period.
Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery previously outlined the importance of reducing their complaints and increasing their customer service, stating, ‘In 2017 we want to build on being the ‘UK’s winning network’ and be recognised for the improvements we have made to make our customer services best in class. We are making positive progress in customer services but fixing it is our highest priority for 2017. ‘
Commenting on their announcement, Lindsey Fussell, director of Ofcom's consumer group, said, ‘We won’t stand for complacency when it comes to customer service. We expect providers to make it a top priority and work hard to better serve their customers.
‘If companies let their customers down, we will step in and investigate, which can lead to significant fines.’
BT, who received the most complaints in both the broadband and pay TV categories, released a statement in response stating, 'We apologise to customers we’ve let down. BT cares about the service it gives to customers and we know we need to do better. There were a couple of exceptional broadband outages during the period in question which undoubtedly influenced the broadband figures. BT has been investing heavily in improvements, which include 90 per cent of our customers’ calls being answered by advisors in the UK and Ireland by the spring of 2017 and recruiting more than 1,500 people to join our team of dedicated advisors helping customers with more complex problems. Additionally we’re installing new software and systems to assist our advisors and allow customers to serve themselves online. Customers will see an improvement as these initiatives take effect.'
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Nearly all landline providers received an increase number of complaints, with Plusnet receiving the most (24), followed by EE (20) and Post Office (20). Both Sky (6) and Virgin Media (10) were below the industry average of 14 complaints per 100,000 people.
BT take the embarrassing title of most complained about network for a second period in a row with 36 complaints, followed by Plusnet (30) and EE (26). Though EE still sit above the industry average of 20, this is still a substantial reduction from the record holding 51 complaints per 100,000 people in Q1 2015.
Another unceremonious win for BT with 19, compared to Virgin Media’s 7 and TalkTalk’s 6. Sky on the other hand continued their industry leading record with just 1 complaint per 100,000 people.
Mobile approached Vodafone and BT for comment and are awaiting their response.