TalkTalk and Vodafone dishing up ‘worst UK customer service’

TalkTalk and Vodafone have been named as the UK’s worst broadband and mobile providers respectively for customer service.

Ofcom, the media and broadcasting regulator, has listed the broadband, landline and mobile phone providers as having the worst customer service records, based on a comprehensive survey.

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The study, which looked at customer satisfaction, complaints and call-waiting times, found that TalkTalk’s broadband customers received the worst treatment of any provider.

TalkTalk may have had the second quickest call-waiting time – at an average of 52 seconds compared to EE, which topped out at 48 seconds – but only four in 10 of those surveyed said they were satisfied with how their complaint had been handled.

A breakdown of the nine metrics Ofcom looked at to determine how well a broadband provider performed showed that TalkTalk to be the worst performing in all of the factors, from willingness to help resolve a problem to courtesy and politeness of advisers.

In the broadband customer service list, (ascending in quality), TalkTalk was followed by BT and its subsidiary EE in joint second; Sky and Virgin Media were joint third, and the BT-owned Plusnet ranked best.

TalkTalk also rated worst for customer service relating to issues from home owners who had their landline with the company.

“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,” said Ewan Taylor-Gibson, telecoms expert at the price comparison site uSwitch.com.

For mobile services, the level of satisfaction with providers was generally high, with an overall 91% satisfaction rate and an average of only 4% of customers finding a reason to complain. However, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone fared the worst in this aspect.

The survey found that Ofcom received more complaints per 100,000 mobile users (48) against Vodafone than any about other provider.

Overall, Virgin Mobile customers were least happy with the service they received, with less than half saying they were satisfied with the way their complaints were handled.

“Broadband and mobile are now essential services for many of us,” Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said. “Consumers deserve services that meet the demands of modern life, yet these new figures show that not all providers are delivering. Citizens Advice research also reveals that loyal customers face higher prices in the telecoms market.”

Among mobile companies, Tesco Mobile and Giffgaff, which is owned by O2’s parent company Telefónica, topped the table with customers most likely to recommend the providers to a friend.

“People often focus on price when they’re choosing a phone or broadband provider,” said Lindsey Fussell, consumer group director at Ofcom. “But there are big differences in the customer service offered by providers. We are 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.”