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3 million unresolved broadband and phone complaints in 2009
Thursday 22 July 2010 22:43:05 by John Hunt

Nearly 3 million consumers failed to resolve complaints with their broadband or phone provider after 12 weeks in 2009, and 77% were unaware that a free resolution service was available for them to use according to a complaints procedure review by Ofcom. Two alternative dispute resolution (ADR) companies exist, CISAS and Otelo, and all broadband and telecoms companies must subscribe to one of these.

In September 2009 Ofcom reduced the time from 12 weeks to 8 weeks before complaints could be taken to one of the alternate dispute resolution companies (ADR's). Ofcom is not satisfied that that the standards of complaints handling in the communications industry is sufficient and is establishing a minimum standard for complaints handling procedures which will apply to all providers from January 2011. This will introduce a regulatory requirement for providers to resolve complaints in a "fair and timely manner" with minimum expectations of all providers' defined.

Also from July 2011 communications providers will have to provide details about the relevant complaints procedure and ADR details on all paper bills. They will also be required to write to consumers to advise of their right to go to ADR after 8 weeks of an unresolved complaint. This may not help in all cases as many consumers have trouble getting their provider to recognise they are trying to make a complaint.

"We want to make sure that when something goes wrong, consumers are able to find out easily how to make a complaint and can be assured that their provider will be able to handle their complaint effectively."

Ed Richards, (Chief Executive) Ofcom

Statistics show that dispute resolution does work so hopefully these new rules to make them more accessible will help. Complaints about mobile providers that weren't resolved after 12 weeks and were then taken to ADR were resolved in 91% of cases compared with only 51% where the complaint was not taken to ADR. The full Ofcom review of complaints procedures is available here.


Posted by wirelesspacman over 7 years ago
"This may not help in all cases as many consumers have trouble getting their provider to recognise they are trying to make a complaint."

That is an interesting point. When someone contacts the supplier to complain about something, are they making a "complaint" in the sense of this article?
Posted by james_esq over 7 years ago
That is a very good point. Most of the providers close the case automatically after 28 days - somewhat short of the 12 weeks that is currently mentioned and even the 8 weeks that is coming into force. Who wants to bang their head against a brick wall for 8 weekds anyway?
Did anyone know that when telephone calls are recorded and the providers staff cry "I have been insulted" it costs the customer to get a copy of the call and that is the only way that a person can clear their name?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Ofcom need to look at the way they handle complaints before they start shouting the odds on how and what others should do. The whole complaint system on ofcoms site (not just with regards to broadband but phone etc etc) is a shambles.
Posted by XRaySpeX over 7 years ago
Re: the definition of a complaint.

All providers are required to have a formal Complaints Procedure and therein it will state how to raise a complaint and how it is handled.

Almost certainly, a formal complaint letter or email needs to be sent initially. A phone call saying "My Broadband don't work" would not constitute a complaint.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
If you pay peanuts, you get peanuts.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 7 years ago
@ XRay. Yup, my thoughts exactly.

Maybe that is something that could be clarified for customers - ie, the difference between complaining and making a formal complaint. Would not surprise me if a lot of (most even) customers do not appreciate the difference.
Posted by tommy45 over 7 years ago
@ otester :Mostly true but not always the case,
Posted by tommy45 over 7 years ago
Sometimes you can pay more,but still get shafted,there needs to defined service levels,not just with isp's but the monopoly bt,and as they seem happy that we use our lines for high speed adsl then they should be forced to make sure that the physical line is of good quality and free from interference from outside sources
Posted by otester over 7 years ago

Just an old saying, but in the real world reviews count the most.
Posted by supersquirrel over 7 years ago
"all broadband and telecoms companies must subscribe to one of these (ADR's)" ... that might be the theory, but not all do subscribe.

Last year when Hi-Velocity failed, many ex-HV'ers ended up with murphx. After appalling customer service and an incompetent "manager" investigating my complaint, I found murphx was not signed up to either ADR. Ofcom had no interest because not enough people had reported it and would do nothing regarding the dispute.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 7 years ago
Let's see how the split of the 3 million complaints breaks down prorated by the number of customers each supplier has, then.... I'd hazard a guess as to who will be the worst by a mile. And they're certainly not the cheapest.
Posted by TheGuv over 7 years ago
Wouldn't it be much better if Openreach had dedicated teams that could traverse through the red tape ?

Imagine an Openreach engineer that was allowed to specialise in BT Retail faults or Talk Talk faults etc. Would be able to work on the network and with the people in the data centres etc who deal with remote config of the network infrastructure.

Now surely that would be a quicker and more co-operative way of fixing faults... ?
Posted by BBSlowcoach over 7 years ago
Are we talking about heresay complaints or complaints that have been given an official complaint reference number?

I have just raised a complaint with BT because they make it impossible to talk directly with the 'decision makers'. Raising a complaint is the only way of bringing matters to their attention.

Staff in large organisaions often forget who pays their salary and bonus.
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