BT Broadband has the dubious honour of making it to the Christmas No.1 spot… for customer complaints. Figures from Ofcom from the third quarter of 2016 make grim reading for BT and for other Broadband companies that it owns.
How Many Complaints?
BT unfortunately tops Ofcom’s list with an eye-watering 36 complaints for every 100,000 customers. To put it in perspective, that is nearly double the industry average figure of 20 per 100,000 customers.
Bad News For Plusnet and EE Too
Second and third place in Ofcom’s list went to Plusnet and EE, both companies owned by BT.
What Went Wrong?
According to statements by Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, BT’s customers experienced problems relating to both its broadband and landline services from July to September. There also appears to be an accusation of complacency by Ofcom relating to BT’s customer service during that period.
Vodafone Still Tops Mobile Complaints
Ofcom’s figures show that while BT has been stumbling with its broadband service at the end of the year, Vodafone has consistently topped the complaints list for pay-monthly mobile complaints since the third quarter of last year. Numbers of complaints have, however, fallen 18 per 100,000 customers since reaching a high of 32 at the end of last year.
What Does BT Say?
BT’s Chairman Sir Michael Rake has publicly acknowledged that there were some exceptional broadband outages during the third quarter of this year. Sir Michael has apologised to customers and has promised that customers will see an improvement after he puts new measures into effect. These measures are reported to include a recruitment drive for more staff to handle queries/complaints, more cash being put into service improvements, and an overhaul for the software used by BT to handle the complaints.
Some critics have said that BT’s improvements should concentrate less on improving how complaints are handled and more on trying harder to eradicate the causes of those complaints.
Although no fine has been announced for BT, Ofcom has used some large fines against communications companies in recent times. Vodafone, for example, had a £4.6 million fine from Ofcom in October this year relating to broken rules concerning complaint handling, and for misleading customers about aspects of pay-as-you-go services. Ofcom also fined EE £1 million for not handling parts of the complaints process properly.
Ofcom Moving to Separate BT and Openreach
Ofcom has recently ruled that it will be formally asking the European Commission to start the process of separating BT from its network infrastructure arm, Openreach. There has long been an argument that investment is needed in the network, and that action needs to be taken to improve broadband and phone services across the UK. Critics have argued that Openreach needs to repair problems and install new lines more quickly, improve service performance and broadband coverage across the UK.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Many businesses and individuals use BT broadband services and it is good news, therefore, that the regulator is staying on top of things. The fact that BT and Openreach could be separated in the near future should mean greater investment in the infrastructure, higher quality and more effective services and customer services.
This could, of course, bring service improvements for customers in the not-too-distant future.