23% of UK complained about comms service

Friday, December 18 2009, 13:59 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

Ofcom has revealed that 23% of the UK population submitted a complaint of some description to their mobile, broadband or landline service provider in 2009.

In research published today, the regulator found that 30% of complaints submitted (representing around 3m consumers) remained unresolved for over 12 weeks.

However, Ofcom also discovered that 92% of consumers were satisfied with their communications services and those who did complain usually found that their case was resolved promptly by the provider.

Despite the good overall levels of satisfaction, the regulator has proposed a range of new measures for more effectively handling consumer complaints in the telecoms industry.

Among the proposals, providers will have to put new processes in place to ensure a "fair and timely resolution" of all complaints that are submitted.

Operators will have to provide low-cost options for any consumers who do want to complain and also "set out established timeframes for complaint resolution".

Information about Ofcom-approved independent dispute resolution services will now have to be included on all consumer bills and providers will have to write directly to any customers with complaints that have passed an eight-week period without resolution.

"Consumers should be able to expect their provider to try and address complaints and, where the complaint cannot be resolved, they should be made aware of their right to a free and independent dispute resolution service," said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards.

"Ofcom wants to work with industry to improve the complaints handling process for consumers who have cause to make a complaint."

The regulator will also consider further steps for improving the transparency and effectiveness of complaints handling, including the possibility of publishing specific information on each provider's performance.