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PostSubject: TalkTalk Top Of Ofcom Complaints   Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:59 pm

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Ofcom received more complaints about TalkTalk in the five months to February than about any other fixed line telecoms provider, the regulator revealed on Thursday.

In the first of what it said would be a regular series of bulletins, Ofcom said it received a total of about 450 telecoms complaints a day from consumers.

For fixed line telephony, it received 1.8 complaints for every 1,000 TalkTalk customers in the period – more than four times the rate for BSkyB, which had the second-worst score.

TalkTalk also received the highest rate of complaints for fixed broadband services, at 1.3 per 1,000 customers.

The company blamed the high rate of complaints on difficulties in integrating new acquisitions such as the UK phone and broadband operations of Italian operator Tiscali, which it bought in 2009.

Following the problems, which led to TalkTalk billing former clients who had cancelled their contracts, the company paid out £2.5m in refunds. It lost 25,000 broadband customers in the last quarter of 2010.

TalkTalk said: “We recognise that in the period in question, October 2010 to February 2011, not all customers received the service they deserved as we completed the complex task of moving them to our network and a new billing platform.

“We’re sorry for the disruption this caused and, while it’s encouraging to see the number of complaints decreasing towards the end of this period, we continue to work tirelessly to improve.”

However, Ofcom said that erroneous transfers only accounted for a small share of the complaints about TalkTalk.

“Ofcom’s investigation found that customers of TalkTalk and Tiscali were being billed for cancelled services. The problem wasn’t just caused by the Tiscali integration,” it said.

Ofcom launched an investigation into TalkTalk last year over the billing problems, but decided against punitive action.

BT Retail and Virgin Media were also included in the report, which gave figures only for companies with a market share of more than 5 per cent. Virgin Media had the lowest rate of complaints, with 0.2 complaints per 1,000 customers for both fixed line telephony and broadband services.

Complaint rates for mobile operators were lower, and more evenly spread between the five main brands. Three, the smallest operator, had 0.15 complaints per 1,000 customers, T-Mobile had 0.13, Orange had 0.1 and Vodafone had 0.09.

Three said that its focus on providing smartphone services meant its “customers can and should be more demanding than average”, but said it would act on the findings.

O2 had the best score, with only 0.04 complaints per 1,000 customers. Ronan Dunne, chief executive, welcomed the report, pointing to O2’s “simple service, with transparent pricing”.

Robert Hammond, Head of Digital Communications at Consumer Focus, said the complaints recorded by Ofcom were likely to be “the tip of the iceberg”.

“We would call on all telecoms providers to also publish details of complaints their customer services teams receive,” he added.
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