back to article TalkTalk, Three, and Virgin Media, come on down! You've all won a prize for... not being that great at something!

What do TalkTalk, Three, and Virgin Media all have in common? They've each won a gong for sating the lowest proportion of customers in broadband, mobile, and landline services respectively. So says UK comms regulator Ofcom in its fourth annual customer service report [PDF], which looked at how each of the major providers …

  1. IGotOut Silver badge

    And yet

    Which? Will still take their bribe and give them some award they can use in their adverts.

  2. logicalextreme Silver badge

    Shame automatic compensation doesn't cover mobile

    wherein Three took approximately two weeks to port my number over from O2 recently. I was expecting that to cost me a good £20 but for some reason O2 decided they owed me money so I'm not going to harass Three any further; from what I've seen of them so far if they try to process a refund they might accidentally delete the number or somehow remotely incinerate my handset.

  3. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Talk Talk

    Not great? As a previous customer, I find it hard to believe them anywhere near even mediocre.... at anything.

    1. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Re: Talk Talk

      Why did Dido Harding get a Gong??

      Her manual Army of Track and Trace monkeys seem to be performing little better. It can’t be the people ... you just need to look that the history or Bletchley Park to see what ‘manual admin’ can get you ... with just a little automation.

  4. My-Handle Silver badge

    Zen

    "most providers typically took 48 hours to resolve faults that caused a total loss of service"

    I switched to Zen from BT maybe 3 or 4 years ago. It was only a couple of months ago I actually had need to call Zen's customer services due to a loss of service. Was only kept waiting a few minutes, and the guy fixed the issue -while I was still on the phone-.

    Compare this with my prior 12 or so months with BT. A service that repeatedly dropped connections, a call every 6 or 8 weeks to try and resolve some issue or other with wait times always in excess of 10 mins (most often longer), multiple engineer callouts, general denials of any issues etc etc...

    No comparison really. But this is not the first time I've extolled the virtues of Zen on these forums :)

    1. Roopee
      Thumb Up

      Re: Zen

      Seconded - my Zen landline went down a few weeks ago, on a Saturday - Zen quickly identified that it was an exchange fault, diverted my landline calls to my mobile and quoted “up to 3 working days” for it to be fixed by OpenReach.

      However within 24 hours, ie Sunday, they rang back to say it should be working again and to check it was OK before they removed the divert.

      Excellent service again. It isn’t really the number of faults that matters, they’re mostly out of their control anyway I assume, it’s the way they handle them that really matters. No way will I switch back to PlusNet, or any of the other big operators...

    2. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Re: Zen

      This is why you switch yo Zen.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    topped only by Plusnet when it came to complaints

    let me guess: Plusnet, which used to be classed as one of the best, also in customer service, were bought by BT.

    Fast forward: topped only by Plusnet when it came to complaints

    I really can't see where all "savings" and "profits" come from...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    '3'

    Lets just say I fully expect them to be in the news a *lot* next year (and not for any good reason).....

    And yes, posting anon for very good reasons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Three

      I don't like the sound of that?! Can you elaborate at all?

      I'm a mostly happy Three customer: good value, mostly reliable, Roam Like Home (which no other network offers, afaik?).

      But: their webshite is abysmal, their customer account admin area limited (it will only let you switch your tariff to other, now poor value, tariffs as existed at the time that you last switched tariff, rather than current ones).

      Rather than battle with their contact centre (don't worry, I tar all of them with the same brush, it's a very inefficient way to ask a computer to update your database record for you), I found it easier and quicker last time just to request a PAC by SMS, sign up for a new SIM-only tariff elsewhere, port my number, and then repeat the process after a month. No poor quality voice calls with some poor call centre worker with mutual accent comprehension difficulties needed.

      Computer says Yes!

      Just text PAC to 65075 and you're ready to port!

      (Ofcom definitely do deserve credit for introducing this.)

      1. FatGerman

        Re: Three

        >> But: their webshite is abysmal, their customer account admin area limited

        Every single mobile operator's website is abysmal. No matter how much time I spend on EE's website I cannot find out how much I am paying, what I am paying for, or how I change any of the 'addons' or whatever they're calling them this week. I can, however, very easily buy more services or "upgrade" to a more expensive tariff.

        The awfulness of the websites is deliberate.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      3 WiFi Calling

      This is has had quite a lot of "down" time recently, including one outage of about 24 hours.

      A real pain as I rely on it where I live as the signal is not usable (same for all the others).

      I have contacted their "support" team each time it has been down - the main reason seems to be "yes, we're changing stuff to make it better for you".

      I've called Ofcom, and it seems WiFi Calling is "an extra" that has no regulatory protection. Ofcom did say "The Shared Rural Network" may give me a "real" signal in the future, but that's not due to be complete until 2026 and will probably not make any difference here as all the networks claim to provide coverage :-(

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OFCOM ?

    Paper tiger without teeth.

    You can prove anything with statistics, but the truth !

    And Three network is the most hideous at the moment.

  8. rg287 Silver badge

    A spokesperson at Virgin Media said the company is "always looking at how we can further improve our customer service.

    IPv6. It's 2020.

    It's a fiddle, but it ain't that hard.

    You too PlusNet. You're on BT's network and they manage it.

    1. FatGerman

      A spokesperson at Virgin Media said the company is "always looking at how we can further improve our customer service.

      Looking at it in the same way that when I look out of my window I am looking at my neighbour's house. I can see it, it's much nicer than mine, but it's waaaaay too expensive.

    2. Mintyboy

      A spokesperson at Virgin Media said the company is "Wanting to keep your business at all cost to you we put up our pricesa as often as we can and yes your service will fail... suck it up buttercup....

      Your call is important to us please hold."

  9. circusmole

    Virgin Media Internet

    >>>A spokesperson at Virgin Media said the company is "always looking at how we can further improve our customer service.

    How about answering your phones once in awhile. Earlier this year I had to make numerous attempts to contact you and eventually got a response 4 weeks after my initial attempt.

    How about giving your customers and alternative method of contacting you apart from phoning you - since you seem reluctant to respond to phone calls?

    To be fair, your internet service has been quite reliable up until the recent outage but your customer service is absolutely hopeless.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Virgin Media Internet

      Would NOT touch virgin with someone else's rented bargepole. Asked them about internet, but we're not in a cabled area... but they still at the time supplied ADSL via the virgin.net domain. As soon as they merged with vermin media... the ADSL dropped every 3 minutes. Regular as clockwork. It was absolutely deliberate, to gain revenue due to their 09xx style customer support numbers. utter shower of bastards.

      PLUS they claim to provide fibre internet... I suppose the centre core of a coaxial cable is a type of very thick metal fibre, but .... no, it's not. They're liars and evil

    2. logicalextreme Silver badge

      Re: Virgin Media Internet

      So much this. My connection's been bulletproof for the six years I've been with them, and the handful of outages I've had have shown up on their status checker almost immediately, which [name your cloud provider] might want to take note of. I think maybe the hub turned itself off once and I had to unplug it and plug it back in.

      But I got an offer to double the speed for the same price four years ago, and I haven't been able to get in touch with them in those four years. I even decided that I'd like to upgrade further and pay more, but there's apparently no way on Earth that I can establish contact with them. My current speed's perfectly acceptable so I'm not too fussed, but I'd suggest that if they want to improve their customer service they could start by forming a customer service department.

      I assume that when I move house I'll just have to cancel the direct debit and that'll be the end of it.

      1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

        Re: Virgin Media Internet

        'I assume that when I move house I'll just have to cancel the direct debit and that'll be the end of it.'

        The bastards sent a debt collection agency after me for doing that but since they couldn't provide any proof that I had signed a contract I told them to feck off. They haven't bothered me since.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Virgin Media Internet

      Why is it that many companies are "always looking at how we can further improve our customer service". Maybe they should stop looking and actually do something about it.

  10. jason 7

    As I have said before...

    ...if I visit a new customer and they say "Oh I have crappy internet!" I always ask if it's TalkTalk. Lo and behold 9 times out of 10 it is.

    I tell the customer that their connection should give more than 1.5Mbps. "Oh but TalkTalk say that's as good as it gets!"

    I convince them to move to ANY other ISP in the country and that 1.5Mbps connection jumps straight to at least 10Mbps+. Not great but...

  11. AdamK

    Wake Up Talk Talk

    Personal Message to Talk Talk CEO, one Tristia Harrison:

    Carry on like this with even moderate customer service levels and unlike your predecessor Didon't Whatsername, you will:

    1, Not get a peerage;

    2. Not be put in charge of anything quite important which had not worked in any meaningful way and in which you have neither background, experience nor real influence but lots of political connections with bonkers ex Revolutionary Communist Party types who now run the government.

    3, Be blamed for being a woman who failed when the male morons around you were in fact as least as bad.

    4, Not get £150 for making bovine noises in a Lords "debate" on Zoom,

    5, Get to sit next to Ian Botham.

    See what you could be missing? Screw it up now. You may not want to but you know you must. Worth remebering that Talk Talk wholesale are not part of this shennanigans. If a company ever needed a new name, its them.

  12. David Roberts

    Virgin cable good

    If you are in a cabled area VM outperforms ADSL and FTTC mainly because of the final few yards of crappy copper.

    I'm waiting for FTTP to be available to see who offers best bang per buck.

    However i know two areas (hundreds of miles apart) which have clusters of fibre terminations on top of the local poles but with no sign of an FTTP offering.

    So I am stuck with VM for the moment. Who to be fair do give a good service.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Virgin cable good

      I'll agree here.... vermin media cable is rather good... in areas not built by vermin media but merely taken over by them

      However they do rather let themselves down.... partly on price , but mostly by their appalling customer 'service' line

      Took them ages to fix my landline, and that after spending 30 mins trying to explain to them that the problem is in the cabinet at the end of the road, since the landline was fine until their 'engineer' did some work to it and now the landline does'nt work.

      They insisted the fault was in my house and that i was in for their engineer(starts laughing) to come and check the line.

      Managed to get to 2nd line of support and explained to them my line went in the frame close to the cabinet door hinge and if the guy was'nt careful shutting the door, it would pull my line out and about 6 others too.

      It was fixed the next day.

      (oh and it really pisses me off that the guys and girls in the indian call center claim their name is 'roger' or 'carol' ... let them use their real names ffs )

  13. TireIron

    Customer Services - A shambles by design

    I think virgin hit the nail on the head but didn't finish the statement:

    ..."always looking at how we can further improve our customer service without having to invest real money into it".

    Unfortunately call centers cost money, a lot of money. so you run it as 'efficiently' as possible with as few staff you can get away with. Staff retention is to be avoided where possible and pay them as little as possible. There is always another somebody wanting a job...

    Which brings me onto Plusnet and its excellent customer service they spout on the TV/Radio. The last couple of calls to Plusnet took around 50 minutes to get through. Here's why this annoys me. There Plusnet call center is about 20 minutes away. That means I could drive to there call center, knock on the door and explain the issue and drive back with in that same time - Maybe a 'Drop in shop' when you have a problem is a way forward, it may be quicker - oh that would cost real money...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Customer Services - A shambles by design

      Another reason is that Liberty Global, having paid billions, need to show their shareholders a return on investments. Hence the constant price rises and cost cuttings.

      Multi billion Pounds takeovers/mergers/ etc are never intended for the benfit of customers, but purely for the shareholders/ Brokers/Financiers arranging the deals. Load a company with debt financing and high gearing, and pull the plug, when convenient and sell it on after asset stripping.

      Beardie made his money and settled in Necker Island. Now its the turn of the new owners to squeeze every penny before offloading VM. All in the name of efficiency, synergy, consolidation etc, or whatever the new jargon catchword is at the time.

      Consumers end up paying for all their shenanigans and indulgences. There is no incentive to invest and grow the business organically.

      Ditto mobile networks. Paid for the spectrum licences, but are now reluctant to invest more in the infrastructure necessary to ACTUALLY make 5G work and prevalent, as per their blurbs. All mouth. Even the 4G potential has not been fully realised. IF this was so, one wouldnt need 5G speeds, for the most part.

      Go figure.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I changed to plusnet.

    I asked for a new modem, the day before it was due to change over I get an email telling me the courier would deliver it in a week.

    The helpdesk didn't help. Some platitudes etc.

    Luckily it turned up the day the switch happned. 6 hours afterwards.

    I'll give them a pass as it was in may. But I dont think I'll stay now Virgin have started in our area.

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