Ofcom complaints: how your internet, mobile or pay TV provider ranks

The Ofcom logo on a mobile phone screen (image: Getty Images)

Virgin Media has topped the rankings for the most complained-about broadband provider, the latest set of Ofcom statistics has shown. The provider was also deemed to be the worst-performer in the landline and pay TV  categories.

Covering the period from July to September 2023, the communication services regulator also found O2 and BT Mobile jointly received the greatest volume of complaints from mobile users. At the other end of the table, Sky continued to provide the best service in three out of four categories.

The latest set of figures come ahead of major mid-contract price hikes for most broadband, mobile, landline and pay TV customers. We’ve written a guide on who can beat them and what your rights are.

If you’re fed up with the service your provider gives you but are well-within the minimum term of the contract, we’ve explored how the Ofcom complaints process works below. You can also see our guides to the best mobile phone deals currently available on the market and the cheapest TV streaming deals.

So, where do your broadband, mobile and TV providers rank in Ofcom’s complaints league table? And what can you do if your supplier isn’t hitting acceptable standards? Here’s everything you need to know.

Unimpressed with your provider? Here’s what you can do about it now

If you’re unhappy with your provider, Look After My Bills has put together some quick tips for you. These are the actions you can take right now that may help you to either quit your provider or improve your service. These apply across broadband, mobile, pay TV and landline deals:

  • On a contract? Check how long you’ve got left

If you’re outside of your contract’s minimum term, you can break out of it for free. But if you’re still within that term, leaving it is likely to result in a penalty fee, which can be quite hefty.

If you’re still within the minimum term, you may be able to get another supplier to cover the cost of your exit fees if you agree to switch to them. While this may get you a better service, it could mean you have weaker bargaining power with your new supplier.

Those on a rolling contract can leave at any time without facing a fee. So, if you’re on a one-month contract SIM-only deal, you won’t face a penalty.

  • Nearly out of contract? Threaten to leave

If your minimum term has ended and you’re not far off the end of your contract, threatening to switch suppliers may allow you to access better service from your current provider. They might offer discounts on faster broadband speeds, cheaper handset deals or more add-ons, such as a streaming subscription. Of course, this option depends on whether or not you want to continue putting up with your supplier’s poor service.

  • Struggling for signal or internet speed? You can break out early

In broadband and mobile contracts, your supplier may set out minimum service requirements that they have to abide by. For example, a minimum broadband connection speed.

If they’re not meeting the standards they’ve set themselves, you may be able to break out of your contract early without a financial penalty. For broadband, if the provider diagnoses that the issue is within their own network and they can’t fix it within 30 days, they have to let you quit your contract early. But they may be able to fix the problem, for example, by sending you a new router.

For mobile services, if your signal or connection is non-existent – or so bad it’s barely usable – you can ask your provider to do a signal check in and around your home. If this confirms an issue with their network, you can leave your contract immediately.

Which providers have had the most Ofcom complaints?

Ofcom publishes statistics about the suppliers it receives the most complaints about every three months. It ranks the providers based on how many complaints they receive per 100,000 customers – a measure which means larger suppliers can be more accurate compared to smaller ones.

Below are the rankings tables for the three months between July and September 2023, going from worst to best. We have provided further details about the worst offenders further down in this piece.

Broadband

Provider Complaints per 100,000 customers
Virgin Media 32
Now Broadband 18
TalkTalk 15
Vodafone 15
Shell Energy 13
BT 11
Plusnet 11
EE 9
Sky 5

Mobile

Provider Complaints per 100,000 customers
O2 6
BT Mobile 5
Three UK 4
iD Mobile 4
Tesco Mobile 3
Vodafone 3
EE 2
Sky Mobile 2

Pay TV

Provider Complaints per 100,000 customers
Virgin Media 20
BT 7
Sky 2
TalkTalk 1

Landline

Provider Complaints per 100,000 customers
Virgin Media 19
Now Broadband 11
TalkTalk 10
Shell Energy 8
BT 7
Plusnet 7
Vodafone 7
EE 5
Sky 2

What’s led to complaints at the worst-offending suppliers?

Ofcom has also provided a summary of the key drivers of complaints about the providers who ranked as the worst. Here’s a list of what’s been irking consumers the most at each supplier:

Virgin Media (broadband)

  • Complaints handling: 46% of complaints (industry average: 37%)
  • Faults, service and provisioning: 20% (32%)
  • Billing, pricing and charges: 20% (17%)

BT Mobile (mobile)

  • Changing provider: 45% of complaints (industry average: no data)
  • Complaints handling: 36% (30%)
  • Faults, service and provisioning: 9% (22%)

O2 (mobile)

  • Complaints handling: 31% (industry average: 30%)
  • Faults, service and provisioning: 29% (22%)
  • Billing, pricing and charges: 18% (21%)

Virgin Media (TV)

  • Complaints handling: 51% of complaints (industry average: 47%)
  • Billing, pricing and charges: 23% (23%)
  • Faults, service and provisioning: 9% (12%)

Virgin Media (landline)

  • Complaints handling: 49% of complaints (industry average: 38%)
  • Billing, pricing and charges: 22% (18%)
  • Faults, service and provisioning: 13% (25%)
Sky logo (image: Getty Images)

How do Ofcom complaints work?

If you have a complaint about your supplier, your first point of call should be the supplier itself. It’s worth going through their customer service channels to see if your issue can be resolved before escalating it further. See our guide on how to complain to find out more.

Complaining to Ofcom won’t get your complaint resolved – that can only be achieved by reaching an agreement with your supplier or taking it through an independent complaints resolution service. But if you’ve had a bad experience, it’s still worth registering your dissatisfaction with the regulator.

By doing so, you will help Ofcom to compile its quarterly complaints tables, which name and shame the worst providers. If your complaint is one of many on a particular issue or with a particular provider, the public body may launch an investigation. So, while you won’t necessarily be able to improve things for yourself, you may contribute to the improvement of standards at your supplier or across the wider industry.

You can call Ofcom’s complaints line on 0300 123 333 or 020 7981 7040. Complaints can also be reported via an online monitoring form, which can be found by visiting the Ofcom complaints website and searching for the particular issue you’ve had with your service.