TalkTalk least likely to be recommended

7 May 2018   By Jo Bailey

Ofcom survey finds poor customer service continued in 2017 for TalkTalk.

The UK's telecoms regulator Ofcom has revealed TalkTalk is the least likely provider to be recommended by existing customers. They also received nearly the highest number of complaints, second only to BT.

It's the second year running for the provider to score the lowest at satisfaction in complaints handing, however they're also one of the fastest to answer customer calls.

It seems however TalkTalk has struggled to redress problems at the company since becoming the targets of a number of data breaches in 2015 from scammers within the call centre itself as well as more anonymous cyber-attacks, and again in 2017 at their call centre in India.

While they are making efforts to improve customer security, including relocating their call centre, as well as offering the nation's lowest fixed price broadband, it seems they still have some way to go.

talktalk logo
© TalkTalk

Winners and losers

Ofcom's report revealed 18% of TalkTalk customers had a reason to complain, and only 40% of these customers were satisfied with how their complaint was handled.

Some of the main reasons cited for complaint included poor customer service, unsatisfactory complaint resolution and reliability of the service. Just 72% of customers said they were happy with their service; that's compared to industry leader, Plusnet, who scored a satisfaction rating of 86%.

However, while TalkTalk undoubtedly performed the worst, receiving 113 complaints per 100,000 customers, it was BT who had the most complaints at 115 per 100,000 customers.

And conversely, TalkTalk manage to boast one of the fastest call answering times for two years running, at just 52 seconds on average per call.

Unfortunately, while an adviser could be reached quickly, customers faced issues with a lack of willingness to resolve problems as well as giving the provider low ratings for politeness and courtesy.

Ironically, while Plusnet subscribers could be found waiting around seven minutes and 50 seconds to speak to a call handler, the company still achieved the highest rate of satisfaction.

Also scoring well on satisfaction were Virgin Media and Sky, with the former being also the service users were most likely to recommend to a friend. EE achieved the highest rating for satisfaction with complaints handling at 59%.

Switch to fibre

It's not just TalkTalk who are suffering following this latest Ofcom survey. Overall, the entire broadband industry has suffered greater dissatisfaction than in previous years, falling from 9 out of 10 customers happy to just 8 out of 10 this year.

The main reasons for this were unreliable broadband connections and slow speeds.

It's notable however, that its customers on standard ADSL2+ broadband that suffer the most from slow speeds, whereas fibre broadband seems to be delivering more consistent speeds - which is no surprise as steadier speeds is one of the main selling points of switching to a fibre connection.

With 91% coverage of the UK for fibre broadband however, Ofcom notes that many households could benefit simply from switching from standard to fibre broadband deals.

Vote with your feet

Consumer group director at Ofcom, Lindsey Fussell, urged consumers to think about more than just price when choosing a broadband provider. She pointed out that in such a competitive market, customer service should also feature in our decision-making processes, encouraging customers to " with their feet".

Issues with broadband providers can be irritating at best and potentially disastrous at worst, particularly for those running businesses through unreliable providers. Often consumers can presume that they are tied into a contract with no way out, but that's not always the case.

Consumers who are unhappy with their broadband provider, perhaps because speeds are not as promised or because the service keeps dropping, their first action should be to contact them and complain. If they aren't able to resolve the complaint adequately, there are still options open to explore.

The CISAS or Ombudsman service are free to use resolution services which can help disgruntled consumers get things sorted. Every broadband provider has a legally binding obligation to give their customers what they have paid for, and both these resolution services can help to achieve a satisfactory dispute resolution. There are certain contractual obligations which the provider must meet, for example:

  • Goods must be fit for purpose, as described and satisfactory quality. This means that broadband should work well, all the time.
  • The provider must be compliant with the terms of the contract. This means they must be delivering constant service in line with what was originally sold. If the consumer feels they are in breach of this contract, they have the right to cancel.
  • Consumers have the right to cancel at any time, although they might be liable to a fee for early cancellation.

To put this in simple terms; if a broadband provider is failing to deliver reliable internet at the speeds they promised, the consumer has a right to cancel without penalty. Understandably, many broadband providers are reluctant to let customers out of contracts early, so making use of the resolution services mentioned above can offer valuable professional support.

For more on how to complain about your broadband provider see this guide.

Following cancellation, shopping around can often reveal favourable deals on new contracts.

However, as has been highlighted by the Ofcom study, judging providers on price alone is sometimes not a wise move.

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

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