back to article Take a bow, TalkTalk, Post Office, Vodafone! You win most-whinged-about telcos award

TalkTalk, Post Office and Vodafone were the most-complained-about telecoms service providers in the UK between July and September 2017, according to an Ofcom report released today. The British communications regulator's numbers are based on complaints to the six or seven largest players in each sector, which together make up …

  1. tmTM

    "The Register asked TalkTalk what it is doing to address its abysmal track record."

    and the answer was nothing, because people are still stupid enough to use them.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: "The Register asked TalkTalk what it is doing to address its abysmal track record."

      There's clearly only one thing they can do now, the time-honoured solution: Rename the company to pretend they're somebody else.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    "...and a radical shift to self serve..."

    We've reached peak PR bollocks when the idea of having your own call centre, staffed by your own employess, not outsourced to whoever is considered "radical".

    1. jaywin

      Isn't self serve where you have half the number of staff that you actually need for the call volume, therefore forcing your customers to try and sort things out themselves with a poorly designed website which will only get them 80% of what they want?

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        I thought that, but then with the comment about the closure of the Indian call centre I thought they meant they were self serving their own customers. I didn't consider that they could be outsourcing their support to their own customers.

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          TBF, the average 90 year old is more IT literate than the absolute weapons that work as call centre customer support.

        2. Tigra 07

          RE: Wolfetone

          Be careful. It says they closed the Indian call centre...It doesn't say the call centre is now in the UK.

        3. Lysenko

          I didn't consider that they could be outsourcing their support to their own customers.

          Radical self-serve (otherwise known as industry SOP) is when you dial the broadband fault reporting line to listen to a recorded message advising you to look at the FAQ pages on the website.

          The "radical" bit is the attempted gaslighting (Doctor, I've gone blind!! Here, try reading this helpful booklet) and implicit promotion of competitors: "We're sorry your broadband isn't working, please switch to your mobile internet provider whose service is hopefully more reliable than ours and will enable you to read our brain dead FAQ site. Alternatively, please wait (interminably) for a wetware chatbot who won't even know the difference between an A record and a CNAME."

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Radical self-serve (otherwise known as industry SOP) is when you dial the broadband fault reporting line to listen to a recorded message advising you to look at the FAQ pages on the website.

            That's broadly the truth. I've worked for a related customer service industry (energy supply), and they are going the same way - official strategy is "a move to get 50%+ of customers on digital self service". Basically the logic is thus (gospel truth, by the way, just my choice of words):

            1) We're crap at customer service, everybody hates us

            2) Even with our shit outsourced call centres, its still costing us millions

            3) If we could do away with the call centres using this magic "internet" thingy, we'd save those millions

            4) And because customers could do "stuff" themselves digitally, there would be NO complaints at all, and people would LOVE us.

            Obviously, that's crap, in particular because the broken processes of poor customer service outfits simply get badly translated into a shit web application. But soon there won't even be anybody to call to sort out the things that the web site can't, or when the web site goes wrong.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "faults, service and provision issues", with "complaints handling and billing" being secondary concerns."

    So TalkTalk move their call centre from India rather than look at fixing whats causing the complaints in the first place. Cracking thinking that. No wonder they're shit.

  4. adam payne

    A spokesperson said: "We are obviously disappointed by these figures. Ofcom's historical data covers a period last year (July-September) when we closed our customer service operations in India which caused some temporary disruption.

    "That move, and a radical shift to self serve, has already delivered a material improvement in customer satisfaction and we expect complaint data for 2018 to reduce significantly."

    Closed your call centre in India but didn't think to put put anything in place to handle the calls once you'd closed it down.

    Shifting all the admin work into a portal and making the customer do it for you is certainly not radical, other companies have been doing this for years.

    Not much good though if the site is horrible and you can't everything you need to do on it. What happens to the people that can't get online? They still need to ring up.

  5. King Jack

    Engrained stupidity

    ISPs/ Telcos could do themselves a big service by not lying and 'stringing customers along'. If something is not working, admit it. Stop the bullshit of turning stuff off for half an hour before you can even log a fault. Why not just log the call, ask the customer to power cycle. If it's not fixed by that, tell the customer it's been passed on to someone who will work on the fault and will call back when fixed. 9/10 this would leave the customer in a better frame of mind and when the fault eventually gets fixed, the impression on the company is positive. The culture of shovelling shit and wasting time is something that need stopping. When a customer leaves it means no possible return for about 2 years or more. You would think retaining happy customers would be the number one priority. But no, the goal is always to get more suckers in then shit on them, rinse and repeat.

  6. Tigra 07
    Thumb Up

    Well done Talk Talk. I look forward to your excuse next year. Try not to get hacked another 15 times between now and then.

  7. 0laf Silver badge

    Is there anyone that isn't shite and doesn't cost a fortune?

    1. Stuart 22 Silver badge

      "Is there anyone that isn't shite and doesn't cost a fortune?"

      Well providing both knowledgeable customer service and a product that works to spec ALL THE TIME has a cost. Maybe, unlike the competition they also deserve a profit. So if you are used to BT/TalkTalk's silly giveaways of a few bob for next to nowt - real reliable broadband is going to come as a bit of a shock in both mind and pocket.

      Its worth it just to see how both A&A and Zen can even make OpenBreach's cables whizz.

    2. Tigra 07

      RE: 0laf

      Tesco Mobile apparently

  8. Delodien

    I'm unfortunately a customer of TalkTalk for pretty much all their services (ignoring their mobile phone offerings)

    All things considered, I haven't had a single issue with them that hadn't been resolved quickly for the 3/4 years I've been a customer.

    This all changed when I needed to move house, taking TalkTalk with me. Initial engineer visit came and set it up, all was well for around 6 hours. Used it the next day and nothing working, my phone line had changed it's allocated number, no sync on my router, nothing.

    Thus started the FOUR MONTH wait to actually get it fixed, several "technical" calls of which I was basically telling them to do their job and what to do, which of course they ignored, a complaint to CEDR because of course you can't got through the proper Comms Ombudsman. A settlement fee for compensation, then another month waiting for it to actually be fixed.

    Needless to say I will be cancelling my contract as soon as I'm able to after this fiasco. So I'm probably part of the statistics up above!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cancelling contracts

      "Needless to say I will be cancelling my contract as soon as I'm able to after this fiasco. "

      What I don't get is why you can't cancel the contract immediately for crap service.

      Are the contracts such a stitch up that they could be considered unfair, or does TalkTalk simply threaten you with debt collectors and wreck your credit rating along the way?

  9. Sam Therapy

    I'm an ex TalkTalk customer and in the time I was with them, I had nothing but problems, almost from the start. Numerous router failures, poor connection, no connection, missed appointments, conflicting/contradictory advice, idiotic call agents...

    Just about anything that needed me to call them turned into an hours long marathon because the polystyrene brained goon at the other end couldn't understand the problem and/or didn't relay the info to someone who could.

    They are, beyond all doubt, the absolute worst ISP I have ever had the misfortune to deal with. Never, ever again.

  10. G R Goslin

    Complaints? What complaints?

    As a very Ex Vodafone customer, I once spent seven months trying to make a complaint about bad customer service. When I finally gave up, my complaint had not even passed the first hurdle. In effect, it was still lying on the mat under the letter box.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Complaints? What complaints?

      Its the same with Virginmedia, but this report apparently covers "complaints to Ofcom", not self reported figures that (say) Ofgem report for energy suppliers (Ofgem then wrap in complaints to other bodies like the Energy Ombudsman and CAB).

      But talking of Virginmedia, this latest report shows something its customers already know, and that is that whilst relative complaint numbers are lower than the scum-corporations, VM is the company that has seen the biggest relative increase in complaints over the past two years of all companies. And unlike the other companies, that is a very, very clear trend increase, from around 7 to 14, and if (as seems probable) this continues, then they will join the other wastrels with above average complaints by the end of Q2 or Q3 2018. Meanwhile, Ofcom will publish the data, wring its hands and do nothing.

  11. Peter Ford

    TalkTalk is a roller coaster...

    On the one hand, they have done reasonably well at providing me and my family with phone, broadband and mobile at pretty low cost.

    On the other, they seem to have dropped mobile without actually telling any of their existing customers: the first we heard of it was when my daughter got a warning about approaching her text limit. She was on an unlimited text deal... but apparently her deal ended and she is now on some less favourable deal with no warning!

    All our mobiles are now going elsewhere as they get to the end of their current deals. Broadband and phone are definitely being looked into.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: TalkTalk is a roller coaster...

      It doesn't inspire confidence in TalkTalk that they have so many sales bods in town centres trying to flog their wares. No other service provider behaves in such a desperate manner. You can hardly walk down some streets without getting propositioned by dodgy looking ladies: "Hey, mister, my name is Penny, would you like to get internet?"

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