TalkTalk has been named the worst provider for broadband and landline services, according to new research.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom reveals that the firm scored the lowest satisfaction rating of the major providers, with just 72% of broadband customers saying they are satisfied with its service.
That compares with top-rated Plusnet, which scored a satisfaction rating of 86% – significantly ahead of the average of 80%.
Ofcom analysed the performance of broadband and landline providers BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. In its analysis of landline services, Post Office was also included.
Some 18% of TalkTalk broadband customers said they had a reason to complain about the provider, and only 40% were satisfied with how the company handled their complaint.
Just 13% of Plusnet customers had cause for complaint, while EE scored best for complaints handling, with 59% of customers saying they were satisfied with how their complaint was dealt with.
TalkTalk received some 113 complaints per 100,000 subscribers for its broadband services, beaten only by BT with 115 complaints per 100,000 customers. For landline services, TalkTalk was joint worst with Post Office, with both receiving 83 complaints per 100,000 subscribers.
In contrast, top-performing Sky received just 29 broadband complaints per 100,000 subscribers and 26 per 100,000 for landline users.
Overall, eight in 10 broadband customers are happy with their service and just 15% have cause for complaint. But Ofcom’s surveys show how customer experience varies vastly across the board.
Virgin Media customers are most likely to recommend their provider to a friend; it is also the only company with above-average customer satisfaction for its broadband speeds.
Lindsey Fussell, consumer group director at Ofcom, says: “People often focus on price when they’re choosing a phone or broadband provider, but we’re encouraging people to look beyond that 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.”
Customer service: Plusnet customers kept waiting almost eight minutes
Ofcom’s comprehensive survey of customer service found some providers are falling short of their peers when it comes to their landline service.
Sky and EE scored the highest satisfaction ratings for landline services at 90%, while Sky also had the fewest customers with cause for complaint at just 2%. Just 82% of TalkTalk customers were satisfied with its landline service.
Ofcom also analysed average call waiting times for customers contacting the major telecoms providers. TalkTalk broadband customers had to wait just 58 seconds, on average, for their call to be answered and EE was even quicker with an average call waiting time of 48 seconds.
But Plusnet customers were kept waiting some 7 minutes and 50 seconds – the longest wait time by far.
Mobile phone service satisfaction ‘generally high’
Ofcom says satisfaction with complaints handling could be improved across the industry but that satisfaction with mobile phone services were generally high, with 91% of customers satisfied and just 4% saying they had a reason to complain about their service.
Giffgaff received an incredible satisfaction rating of 98%, closely followed by Tesco Mobile at 97%. Virgin Mobile and Vodafone had the lowest customer satisfaction scores at 86% and 88% respectively.
Ewan Taylor-Gibson, telecoms expert at uSwitch, says: “Customers shouldn’t suffer shoddy service. They can vote with their feet as the likelihood is that there’s a better suited service that is more appropriate for their needs and may even save them money too.”
He continues: “Unhappy customers don’t have to stick it out – if you do have a problem with your broadband or mobile, you should raise your complaint with your provider. If you’re not happy with the solution they offer, there’s a free ombudsman service that can review your case.”
In response to Ofcom's findings, a TalkTalk spokesperson said: “While these results are disappointing, we are already seeing more customers staying with us than ever before as we roll out major service improvements.
"We’ve closed down our call centres in India; we have introduced new online tools to help customers resolve issues quickly and conveniently; and we are launching new wi-fi routers to strengthen network reliability.
"All these initiatives are starting to deliver material improvement in satisfaction levels.”
I have been with Talktalk for quite a while but have now decided to quit. The broadband speed was atrocious and slow. They advertise 11mbps but I only got 1.5mbps and when I tried to leave , they had the audacity to charge exit fees.