Telecoms Companies Dial up Customer Complaints

Britons are more likely than ever to take action against companies they’re not happy with – and telecoms companies rank high on the list, according to a new study by Ombudsman Services.

New figures from the first ever Consumer Action Monitor reveal that there were 38 million complaints1 made about products and services last year – equating to one complaint every 1.2 seconds2.

Internet telecoms companies were behind 7,676 of these complaints (14 per cent) second only to energy (17 per cent) and retail (17 per cent) while mobile telecoms complaints accounted for 10 per cent3.

Of these complaints 72 per cent of people lodged their complaints directly with the supplier, while a further 14 per cent had to take their complaint to a third party after failing to solve the complaint with their supplier4.

The survey also revealed that a almost a third (31 per cent) of people that have complained directly to an internet telecoms company have done so three times or more in the last 12 months5.

When it comes to complaints about mobile telecoms (handset and network) in the last year 55 per cent of people sought recompense directly with the supplier, while 11 per cent had to resort to third parties when their problem remained unresolved6.

Despite the record number of complaints, things look set to get worse before they better as almost a third (32 per cent) of Brits saying they are more likely to complain about poor service now than they were a year ago7.

But the new measure, from Ombudsman Services, also reveals that many who have a problem still take no action, with 40 million problems not pursued thanks in part to the perception that complaining is ‘not worth the hassle’8. These disgruntled customers deem the process of complaining to be potentially tiresome with time and effort identified as the main reasons holding them back.

Cynicism about companies adds to this sense of frustration, with more than a third (36 per cent) of people believing that big businesses are only interested in money and don’t care if something goes wrong with a product or service, a sentiment that also highlights the importance of trust between businesses and consumers9.

Millions of consumers are also resorting to more direct action to get their problems dealt with, with social media frequently used as a way to gain companies’ attention. This method is proving much more effective than traditional media (27 per cent (social) vs. 6 per cent (traditional)10.

Commenting on the findings, Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said:

“Given that consumer trust in companies is low, the time is right for businesses to embrace third parties as a means of resolving disputes.”

“The research shows that nearly a third of people would be more willing to buy a product or service from a company offering such a service, so transparency clearly has a big role to play in shaping consumer opinion and enhancing brand image.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine

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