At the end of June Ofcom published its quarterly Telecom and Pay TV Complaints report for the first quarter of 2014, and it was bad news for EE. The provider has the highest relative volume of complaints in the mobile pay-monthly telephony category, with complaint volumes that were almost twice the industry average. Other 4G providers that were included in the report were O2, Three, and Vodafone.
Of the big four 4G providers that were included in the mobile pay-monthly section of the report, EE came out worst. Ofcom received the most complaints per 1000 subscribers for EE, at around 0.12 and these were generally related to billing problems, issues with changing provider, and concerns over the handling of complaints. Three had the lowest level of complaints at approximately 0.04. Vodafone and O2 both received less complaints than the industry average, which is around 0.07.
Overall, the relative volume of complaints that Ofcom is receiving about the main four 4G providers has reduced over the past two years. While O2 has always maintained a reasonably low volume of Ofcom complaints – perhaps reflecting a better in-house complaints handling process – Three and Vodafone have both seen a dramatic reduction in complaints volumes in the last 24 months. Complaints to EE peaked following the aggregation of T-Mobile, Orange, and 4GEE in September 2012, and although these now seem to have settled down, the volumes still remain relatively high. The overall industry average has halved from 0.14 complaints per 1000 customers in Q1 2012 to 0.07 complaints per 1000 customers in Q1 2014.
Although the Ofcom report also has a section for PAYG mobile providers, only 5% of the mobile related complaints that they receive relate to PAYG. This means that most providers don’t meet the criteria for being included in the report, which is that they must generate at least 30 complaints per month. The only 4G PAYG network to generate that volume of complaints during the first quarter of 2014 was EE, but no data was produced as there were no other providers to compare EE with.
Ofcom’s report is based on the complaints it receives directly from customers, with the regulator claiming to receive around 300 telecoms complaints each day. These complaints are recorded by service and by provider, and are used to build up a picture of telecoms providers that might be useful to consumers when they’re looking for a new provider. Ofcom suggests that the majority of complaints they receive are from customers that have first contacted their telecom providers but have been unable to find a satisfactory solution, which means that the report does not include complaints that customers have made to their telecom providers that have been successfully resolved.
Ofcom has been publishing quarterly complaints reports since October 2010. While the regulator doesn’t resolve individual complaints it will offer consumers advice on how best to deal with any issues that they report. Customers are advised to try to resolve issues with their 4G providers before they contact Ofcom.