British people are increasingly unhappy with their broadband services, and once again TalkTalk is the most whinged about provider, according to a comprehensive annual survey by Ofcom.
The regulator found one in five people were dissatisfied with their broadband service last year, compared to just one in ten in 2016.
The poll quizzed 6,700 folk online about complaints handling by all the major broadband and mobile operators, and spoke with 6,377 about the quality of customer service.
Satisfaction among broadband customers was below all other sectors, including gas and electricity.
Despite overall broadband speeds improving, people appear to be doing more with their internet services and consequently expect more of providers.
Not surprisingly, TalkTalk scored poorly on most customer service measures – 28 per cent were unhappy with the provider.
Customers of the beleaguered outfit were most likely to have a reason to complain (18 per cent), while only 40 per cent were satisfied with how their complaints were handled. The business has repeatedly topped a number of polls as worst broadband provider.
Over the past year the ISP has ditched its mobile phone business to focus on broadband.
But satisfaction with complaint-handling scored poorly across the board. Half of all broadband customers were unhappy with the service, and only 53 per cent of mobile customers were pleased with how complaints were dealt with.
Sky and EE performed above average for how they handle complaints, with around six in 10 customers satisfied.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's consumer group director, said: "People often focus on price when they're choosing a phone or broadband provider. But there are big differences in the customer service offered by providers.
"We're encouraging people to look beyond the price and consider customer service too. In such a competitive market, companies simply can't afford to let their service standards slip. If they don't up their game, customers can vote with their feet."
Overall, people seemed happier with their mobile phone service – just under 10 per cent said they weren't.
The two mobile providers that ranked higher than average for overall customer satisfaction were Giffgaff (98 per cent) and Tesco Mobile (97 per cent). Virgin Mobile and Vodafone both ranked lower than average with 86 per cent and 88 per cent respectively.
The amount of time people are kept waiting on the phone to customer service lines varies widely. Plusnet customers have to wait the longest – nearly eight minutes – while EE customers wait only 48 seconds on average.
Compared with other sectors, satisfaction among mobile customers was in line with that of current account customers, and above gas, electricity and landline customers.
Ewan Taylor-Gibson, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, said consumers are increasingly looking beyond price when picking a broadband and mobile contract, which should give providers pause for thought.
"In the case of TalkTalk, which scores poorly in terms of a range of customer service measures, there's a feeling that the provider has struggled to redress its public image since the high-profile data breach of 2015." ®