Virgin Media O2 was named as the most complained about telecoms provider in Ofcom’s latest report. It was worst in every area it operates in.
- Jump in complaints to Ofcom after it opens investigatation into the company.
- Sky subsidary NOW Broadband scores badly with customers.
- Industry complaints on the rise in general.
A call centre where customers are cut off, promises to call back are not honoured, a complaints email where an auto-reply is the only reponse you’ll get.
This is what Virgin Media O2 customers are reporting when trying to cancel or complain about their service.
In 2023, Virgin Media announced changes to contracts including a new above inflation price rise mechanism and increased charges for exiting a contract, which encouraged some customers to cancel, if they could.
Ofcom became so concerned about how difficult it was to leave Virgin Media that it launched an investigation back in July.
That in turn appears to have prompted many more users to complain to Ofcom about Virgin Media (although the regulator won’t resolve individual complaints – these are handled by the Communications Ombudsman – see below).
The result: Virgin Media came bottom of four Ofcom tables on Thursday.
Ofcom named Virgin Media O2 as the most complained about mobile, landline, broadband and pay TV company in the UK.
The stats released from Ofcom cover the three months until the end of September.
O2 pulled down by Virgin Media integration
For mobile customers, it appears O2 Pay Monthly users are now subject to the same customer service level as former Virgin Mobile customers.
Virgin Mobile was frequently featured in previous Ofcom’s complaints reports. Virgin Mobile was integrated in O2, itself now a 50% part of the Virgin Media business in the UK.
Vodafone, a previous worst or near worst mobile provider rose to join the group of least complained about mobile providers. The company came behind Sky Mobile and EE. It scored level with Tesco Mobile as the third least complained about mobile providers.
In a statement issued today Virgin Media briskly said today that the complaints only represented a small proportion of its customers. But that customer service was its “no. 1 priority.”
TalkTalk: from bad to good?
Sky meanwhile remained in Ofcom’s good books. But it was beaten from its long-standing position of least complained about Pay TV provider by none other than TalkTalk. TalkTalk was once routinely a “most complained about” provider on Ofcom’s quarterly statistics.
In terms of its pay TV service, in the last five years TalkTalk has replaced its original TV proposition, which offered subscribers a range of channels inserted between 300 and 599 on the channel list. In its place, the latest generation of TalkTalk TV boxes focus on giving customers access to most of the UK’s popular streaming apps alongside Freeview channels.
While its TV service didn’t generate many complaints, its broadband and landline services secured it the bronze position of third most complained about provider in those categories.
All is not well with Sky subsidiary NOW Broadband. Ofcom noted a rise in complaints, making the provider the second most complained about internet service provider in the UK.
Overall, Ofcom notes it’s been receiving more complaints in recent months. It’s reminded the industry of the importance of customer service.
What does Ofcom do when it receives complaints?
Ofcom says it “cannot resolve individual complaints”.
But it offers consumers “advice”. The information it receives can lead to it “launching investigations”.
Instead, anyone experiencing problems is told to complain to their provider first.
Then, if that leads nowhere, a complaint to an independent ombudsman should follow.
So what use is Ofcom?
It says: “The information we publish about complaints helps people compare companies when shopping around for a new provider and encourages firms to improve their performance. Our service quality hub offers further information on how people can choose the best provider for them.”