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Ofcom customer satisfaction survey results 2022

Half full or half empty?

Ofcom has revealed the results of customer satisfaction with telecom providers in its yearly research. In 2021 it found that “only half of customers were satisfied with how complaints are handled. Call-waiting times and complaints-handling are areas of particular concern.”

“On average, one in five broadband customers, one in ten mobile customers and one in 20 landline customers said they had reason to complain about their service or provider in 2021.”

I’m far from surprised that fewer than half of customers who complained to their mobile, broadband or landline provider were satisfied with the way their issue was handled. The fact that Ofcom reports that most complainants had to contact their provider more than once to get a resolution reflects what I regularly hear from consumers.

In 2021 just 37% of broadband complaints, 40% of landline complaints and 43% of mobile complaints were completely resolved on first contact.

Source: Ofcom
Source: Ofcom
Source: Ofcom

What difference does two years make?

Mobile providers

In 2019 the average hold time was 1 minute 18 seconds, in 2020 2 minutes 7 seconds and in 2021 the average time that mobile customers had to wait to speak to someone in customer services was 2 minute 15 seconds. It is clear that delays are increasing.

The research showed that “O2’s mobile customers were kept waiting the longest on average last year – 3min 59s, up by 1min 42s since 2020. BT Mobile, EE, iD Mobile and Vodafone’s average call waiting times were also longer in 2021 compared to the previous year. Three was the quickest to answer customer calls, averaging just 16 seconds.

Tesco Mobile and Virgin Mobile managed to reduce their wait times in 2021, but Sky Mobile and Three were the only mobile firms to cut their times to pre-pandemic levels.”

Average call waiting times by mobile provider

graph
Source: Ofcom

Landline and broadband providers

Only Plusnet, Sky, Virgin Media and Vodafone reduced average wait times to pre-pandemic levels. Average wait times for broadband and landline customers in 2019 were 2minute 16 seconds, 2020 4 minutes 9 seconds and 2021 2 minutes 16 seconds. KCOM customers however wait an average of 8 minute 53 seconds.

Average call waiting times by broadband and landline provider

graph
Source: Ofcom

Ofcom responds – as it does every year…

Ian Macrae, Ofcom’s Director of Market Intelligence, said:  “When things go wrong with your phone or broadband service, it’s incredibly frustrating if you have to wait on hold for ages to get it sorted, or if your complaint is handled badly.”

“As we emerge from the pandemic, some companies need to up their game when it comes to resolving problems”

Ofcom needs to do more to bring providers to account. In response to the Ofcom 2019 report, Macrae said “We absolutely think that the firms need to up their games in the way they handle complaints.”

“Does that sound familiar?!”

“It’s all very well Ofcom calling on providers to prioritise customer service improvements and ‘deliver what customers expect and deserve’ but Ofcom has been saying this for years! What is Ofcom doing to make that happen?”

A spokesperson for Ofcom said “We have several rules relating to customer service – for example, on complaints handling, contract information, accurate billing, end-of-contract notifications, simple switching and treating vulnerable customers fairly. If we see evidence of widespread issues that could be in breach of our rules, we’ve shown we won’t hesitate to step in and take action.

However, the last time Ofcom fined a telecom company was O2 for £10.5 million in February 2021 for overcharging customers.

The last time it fined a company regarding complaint handling was EE for £1m in July 2015 for complaint handling failures

How to complain to your telecoms company

As always, I advise putting complaints in writing. “This way you always have the evidence should you take the matter further. Some companies will make it very difficult for you to contact customer services in this way. However you can get the CEO’s email address from ceoemail.com. Even if the CEO does not handle the complaint directly, it does get the complaint into the escalated system, with an evidence trail.

If you cannot get the matter resolved to your satisfaction, ask for a deadlock letter. If your complaint has been going on for more than 8 weeks from when you first contacted the provider you do not need the letter. You can just take the matter to the Communication Ombudsman or CISAS (your provider must be a member of one of these). They will make a decision on your case and the telecoms provider must abide by the ruling.

Further help with complaining about telecom providers

lap top on woman

 

How to complain effectively to telecom providers links to various posts regarding mobile, broadband, telecoms…

 

 

 

The Complaining Cow logo download templates

 

Purchase and download Templates for complaining about utilities if you just want a template to get a matter sorted quickly.

 

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

If you need help with complaining effectively and making sure you are never fobbed off. GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

101 Habits of an Effective complainer book cover with logo

 

 

101 Habits of an Effective Complainer to help you become more skilled and assertive when making complaints

 

 

Categories
Latest News Laws Topical Utilities water and energy ways to save money

Energy companies under scrutiny for Direct Debit hikes

On 3 May the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng announced that Ofgem will undertake a series of “market compliance reviews”. These are to include a “stricter supervision of how direct debits are handled” by suppliers. The Government announced that some energy suppliers were hiking the prices of Direct Debits by more than is necessary. In some cases customers are seeing double or even triple their previous monthly payments.

Ofgem has given energy companies three weeks to explain what they have been/are doing or face punishment. In the first instance Ofgem prefers to work with companies to bring a resolution to issues. However, it does have the power to fine companies, according to Ofgem’s Compliance and Enforcement website page.

Kwarteng has said “The regulator will not hesitate to swiftly enforce compliance, including issuing substantial fines.” It would be good to see these companies fined and the money put back into the pockets of consumers!

radiator

Ofgem chief speaks out

The energy price cap rose by 54% – or on average £700 – to £1,971 a year. They are expected to rise again in October.

Just two weeks after this rise, Ofgem’s chief executive, Jonathan Brearley, said the regulator was seeing “troubling signs” that some companies were allowing customer service levels to deteriorate, and that concerns were raised by consumers and consumer organisations that some energy companies “may have been increasing direct debit payments by more than is necessary, or directing customers to tariffs that may not be in their best interest”.

It would appear that energy companies are profiteering. Brearley has said that some suppliers have been using the extra money “to prop up their finances, enabling them to follow more risky business models”. He also said that “Customer credit balances should only be used to reconcile bills, not as a source of risk-free capital.”

Citizens Advice calls for action

Citizens Advice star rating research released on the 8 April 2022  showed that “energy suppliers’ customer service is the worst it’s been on average since 2017. It comes a week on from the rise in the energy price cap “. The research showed that time waiting on the phone and for responses to emails are on the increase.

If a consumer is struggling to pay their energy bills, suppliers are responsible for providing support, such as affordable payment plans. But Citizens Advice is concerned that “many could be missing out on help they’re entitled to because they’re unable to easily contact their supplier.”

The charity calls on Ofgem to “… introduce a ‘consumer duty’ to ensure suppliers provide a service specifically designed to meet the needs of all customers.” and adds that “A similar approach is being adopted by the Financial Conduct Authority to upgrade consumer protection. It should make companies directly responsible for the outcomes their customers experience. This includes making it easy to contact companies and get support when needed.”

The shocking customer service currently being provided adds to people’s worries about bills and demonstrates that energy companies are cutting corners and not investing in supporting consumers through this difficult time.

Check your  energy bills

It’s easy to check your bills. Look at your previous bills and estimate how much you would expect to pay with the 54% rise. If you think the new Direct Debit amount is excessive then write to your energy company and complain. Ask it to lower the Direct Debit amount to a figure that you provide and include your own calculation. Then keep an eye on your consumption, taking a reading each month, so you don’t get any nasty surprises further down the line.

To calculate your bill: Take the price of electricity or gas per unit (KW/h) divided by 100 and multiply that by the consumption of the energy used. Add the cost of the standing charge, as the number of days multiplied by the daily charge, then add the VAT, which for energy is currently 5%.

So for example:

1) Pence per KW/h/100 x consumption 18.5/100) x 315.5 + £58.37
2) Days x daily standing charge 63 x 0.223 + £14.05
3) Sub total = £72.42
4) VAT @ 5% + £  3.62
5) Grand Total = £76.04

 

If you have a day and night rate, also perform the same check for the night rate.

If you have both electricity and gas then repeat the check for your gas bill too.

Check the reading

If your supplier has used estimated readings for a long time, it could be that your bill is significantly wrong. Take accurate readings and submit them to your supplier.

Don’t pay the estimated bill. Instead, send correct readings to your supplier who will provide an accurate bill. It could work in your favour, as you may have paid too much and be in credit. But do remember it could also go the other way!

Check the Direct Debit

Your Direct Debit amount should be the same each month/quarter and your supplier must inform you if it will change. If it doesn’t inform you, you can complain to your bank under the Direct Debit guarantee. The bank should then put you back into the position you were before the increase.

 

With these simple checks you can ensure that you stay in control of your energy bills.

 

Further help with energy costs and issues

Electricity pylon Everything you need to know to complain about energy problems

 

More on energy All you need to know to make a complaint about energy

 

 

 

 

How to sort out gas and electricity problems without draining your energy: 20 tips from our Consumer Fightback column – lots of information in my This Is Money column

Help with your complaints

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

If you need help with complaining effectively and making sure you are never fobbed off. GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

101 Habits if an Effective complainer book cover with logo

 

101 Habits of an Effective Complainer to help you become more skilled and assertive when making complaints

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress