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Broadband customer service report: complaints soar 37%

With so many providers using the same network infrastructure, you don’t often get that much difference in speed (depending on the contract you choose) or reliability. After price, customer service is one area where providers can set themselves apart from the pack.

However, rising business costs often means customer service is one of the first areas businesses cut back on to level the books.

Broadband complaints have risen sharply. In 2022, broadband providers in the UK received 24,800 complaints. This rose to 34,000 in 202, an increase of 37%.

Graph 1.0: broadband complaints to Ofcom 2022 and 2023

Popular broadband providers that have a large customer base didn’t perform as well as smaller, challenger broadband providers. Shell Energy Broadband scored 58% for customer service and Virgin Media rated 59%, both were in the bottom five for customer service.

Both broadband providers have had a turbulent couple of years. Shell was fined £1.4 million for failing to prompt more than 70,000 customers to review their contract and informing them of the best deals. Meanwhile, Virgin Media was plagued by high-profile network outages in the same time frame.

The best provider for customer service is YouFibre with a score of 95%. Three of the top five providers, YouFibre, Trooli (94%) and toob (84%) are challenger altnet providers, which run and maintain their own full fibre network in the South and East of England.

These providers have a smaller customer base, and you typically get better customer service with these kinds of broadband providers.

Full results of how customers rate their broadband provider's customer service:

  • 1. YouFibre (95%)

    2. Trooli (94%)

    3. Zen Internet (89%)

    4. toob (84%)

    5. Plusnet (82%)

    6. True Speed (81%)

    7. Three (79%)

    8. Community Fibre (76%)

    9. NOW Broadband (71%)

    10. Utility Warehouse (70%)

    11. BT (70%)

    12. Sky (70%)

    13. Lit Fibre (69%)

    14. Gigaclear (69%)

    15. EE (68%)

    16. TalkTalk (66%)

    17. KCOM (65%)

    18. Vodafone (64%)

    19. BRSK (64%)

    20. Hyperoptic (62%)

    21. SSE (62%)

    22. Virgin Media (59%)

    23. WeFibre (58%)

    24. Shell Energy Broadband (58%)

    25. Airband (55%)

    26. Onestream (48%)

Ease of contact and being able to get through to an agent who’s able to assist you is an important part of user experience and customer care.

Similar to customer service, Zen Internet (80%) and Plusnet (72%) are in the top five, with their customers describing the website and service as ‘easy to use’.

Full results of how difficult customers found their broadband provider's contact details:

  • 1. Onestream (67%)

    2. Origin (40%)

    3. Gigaclear (38%)

    4. SSE (33%)

    5. Virgin Media (24%)

    6. KCOM (23%)

    7. Shell Energy Broadband (22%)

    8. NOW Broadband  (21%)

    9. Sky (19%)

    10. BT (15%)

    11. Vodafone (13%)

    12. TalkTalk (13%)

    13. Community Fibre (7%)

    14. EE (7%)

    15. Plusnet (6%)

    16. Zen Internet (0%)

    17. Hyperoptic (0%)

    18. Three (0%)

    19. Trooli (0%)

    20. SSE (62%)

At the other end of the scale, Onestream and Origin were found to have the most difficult user experience. 40% of Origin users said they found it difficult to find information and contact details for the broadband provider.

Full results of how easily customers found it to contact their broadband provider:

  • 1. Zen Internet (80%)

    2. Hyperoptic (75%)

    3. Plusnet (72%)

    4. SSE (67%)

    5. BT (64%)

    6. Sky (63%)

    7. EE (61%)

    8. TalkTalk (59%)

    9. Vodafone (56%)

    10. NOW Broadband (55%)

    11. KCOM (54%)

    12. Virgin Media (51%)

    13. Community Fibre (43%)

    14. Shell Energy Broadband (41%)

    15. Three (40%)

    16. Onestream (33%)

    17. Trooli (33%)

    18. Origin (20%)

    19. Gigaclear (13%)

Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie, comments: “This freedom of information requests highlights a worrying trend of escalating complaints made against the broadband industry, and we need to see providers take decisive action to nip it in the bud.

“Ofcom measures its complaints data based on how often consumers turn to them to help resolve issues that weren’t already fixed by their provider. This could be anything from complaints handling, to consistent problems with the speeds and service they receive. 

“Businesses have faced mounting costs over the past few years, and the telecom industry wasn’t immune to that. We understand that some providers have turned towards outsourcing customer service departments or have even been forced to cut staff levels. 

“Our research sheds some light on the quality of customer care and aims to pick up from where Ofcom has left off when it comes to their reporting on the quality of service.

“While it’s disappointing to see some of the smaller providers fall short on some aspects of customer service, it is worth bearing in mind that the number of customer service agents will be much smaller than the bigger providers and the websites will also be smaller in scale. 

“If you’re unhappy with the quality of service you’re receiving from your provider, you should first raise your concerns directly with your provider. You don’t always have to rely on them picking up the phone and can often reach them via email, WhatsApp and social media. 

“When your issues aren’t resolved to your satisfaction, it might be time to vote with your feet and consider switching. Consider using a comparison site to find out what deals are available in your area.”

Customers can lodge complaints through Ofcom’s online portal. However, while Ofcom records complaints, they can’t investigate or resolve individual cases. They use the data to look for trends and patterns to make larger industry improvements.

If you have an issue with your broadband that needs resolving, there are actions customers can take. Read more in our guide on how to complain and resolve a broadband complaint.

  • Methodology

    Ofcom responded to Broadband Genie via a Freedom of Information Request filed on 26th March 2024 and received back on 24th April 2024. The exact wording received in the FOI request was as follows: “Ofcom received over 24,800 complaints in 2022 and 34,000 in 2023 about telecom providers. Please note that these are the complaints raised, not the number of customers that raised the complaints – sometimes customers raise more than one complaint.

    Broadband Genie surveyed 2,662 broadband bill payers between 28th September 2023 - 8th February 2024 to determine the broadband provider’s customer care score.


Meet the author:

Broadband Expert

Alex came on board in October 2016 and in that time has risen to Broadband Genie’s resident broadband expert. For the last 7 years, he has appeared all over the UK press, giving expert advice about anything and everything related to broadband.

Specialist subject: Fighting the consumer's corner on all things broadband.

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