BT Vision tops pay-TV complaints list
Ofcom has published complaints data about pay TV for the first time. The figures, for January to March, show that BT Vision generated almost four times as many complaints as its closest competitor, Virgin Media, and nine times as many as Sky, although the number of complaints dropped compared with the period from October to December of last year.
BT Vision generated 0.27 complaints for every 1,000 customers in the first quarter, compared with 0.38 complaints in the previous three months. Consumers' main gripes were the sales process and problems with billing. Virgin Media attracted 0.07 complaints, down very slightly from the fourth quarter, while Sky generated 0.03 for every 1,000 users.
In the six years since its launch BT Vision has attracted only 700,000 subscribers, far off 3 million by 2010. The company recently struck a £738 million deal for 114 Premier League football matches over three seasons.
BT said in a statement: "BT Vision is Britain's fastest growing TV service: from spring 2012 we began to add more new customers than Sky and Virgin combined; when you have more new customers you see more problems in early life.
"Where customers have experienced problems, we have identified and fixed the causes. We have also made a significant investment in a new TV platform, to which we are moving new customers for further reliability and ease of use."
BT added that calls about technical problems had dropped to the lowest level since BT Vision was launched in 2006, but assured customers that "we are not complacent".
Overall, complaint levels are much lower for pay TV and mobile telephony than for landline telephone and broadband services.
In the landline market, Ofcom received the most complaints from TalkTalk customers, with 0.72 complaints for every 1,000 customers. Virgin Media generated the smallest number of complaints, with 0.16 for every 1,000 customers. It marks the sixth consecutive quarter during which TalkTalk was the most complained about provider, and Virgin the one with the fewest complaints. However, it is worth noting that TalkTalk has steadily improved its performance.
TalkTalk also came bottom for broadband again, generating 0.56 complaints for every 1,000 customers between January and March. Sky's broadband service attracted the fewest complaints - 0.15 per 1,000 customers.
TalkTalk said in response to the findings: "We have been working hard to deliver improvements that give our customers a better experience and as a result we're receiving 31 per cent fewer calls to our customer contact centres. We do recognise there is still work to do and we are continually pushing through improvements."
And in the mobile market, Ofcom received the most whinges from customers of 3UK, with 0.14 complaints per 1,000 customers. For the sixth consecutive quarter, O2 was the least complained about mobile provider, with 0.02 complaints for every 1,000 customers.
The data covers telecoms and pay TV providers with a market share greater than 4%. For pay TV, this means only three companies come under Ofcom's radar: Sky, Virgin Media and BT Vision. The telecoms data now covers 18 months, allowing consumers to check providers' performance over a sustained period of time.