Brits complained a bit less about connectivity when they were allowed to go outside and see people in the flesh

Top of Ofcom's table for broadband whinges? It rhymes with BorkBork


TalkTalk has once again topped UK communications regulator Ofcom's complaint charts.

Ofcom has collated whinges from consumers about landline, fixed broadband, pay-monthly mobile and pay-TV services.

The figures the regulator publishes are relative to the size of a provider's customer base and its latest set of numbers make for interesting reading since they cover the period (April to June 2021) during which the UK began to ease lockdown restrictions.

The timing is significant as fewer people had to press the home broadband into service to run a remote office, and the reopening of schools left fewer parents weeping into a keyboard over the latest Google Classroom (or alternative remote-learning tool) freeze.

However, while complaints have fallen to pre-COVID-19 levels (Virgin Media in particular had "significantly" reduced complaint volumes), grumblings persist.

TalkTalk topped the table (closely followed by Virgin Media) with 19 complaints per 100,000 customers. The industry average, according to Ofcom, was 12. It also topped the Landline list at 13 compared to an industry average of 7.

Other companies, such as BT-owned Plusnet, were also above the industry average while BT itself just squeaked in below at 10 and 6 for broadband and landline complaints respectively.

That said, BT's complaints did not include those related to the broadband universal service obligation (USO), which was launched on 20 March 2020. The USO gives customers the right to request an affordable (£46.40 per month) broadband connection of at least 10Mbit/s down from BT or KCOM in Hull.

However, even taking the USO into account, complaints have trended down to impressive levels, although broadband continued to generate the most unhappiness.

While its broadband service generated 17 complaints per 100,000, behind TalkTalk's 19, Virgin Media fared less well in Pay-TV, with the most complaints. Virgin Mobile was also leader of the pack in Pay-Monthly mobile complaints, ahead of Three and Vodafone.

Ernest Doku, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, said: "Customer complaints spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers depended on a reliable internet connection but struggled to contact their providers when things went wrong."

You think?

However, Doku noted: "Complaints have returned to pre-pandemic levels, and are close to the record lows we saw before 'social distancing' entered our vocabulary."

While noting that it was reassuring that customers were generally satisfied with their broadband, Doku went on to say "Ofcom's report shows that more than four in 10 of all fixed broadband complaints were about faults, service and provisioning.

With many households still reliant on their internet connections for work, education and entertainment, it's clear that providers have to do more to prioritise these types of problems."

The Register contacted TalkTalk regarding its place in the report but we have yet to receive a response. ®

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