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BT and EE: the merger of the customer service clowns

Barry Collins
12 May 2015
BT Home Hub
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BT and EE top customer complaint charts for broadband, mobile and TV

New figures released by Ofcom confirm the forthcoming merger of BT and EE will see two of the worst customer service records in the industry combined. The telecoms regulator's latest figures make painful reading for customers of the two companies, which are midway through a £12.5 billion takeover. 

Ofcom has lowered the threshold for its latest customer satisfaction round-up, now including companies with as little as a 1.5% share of the market in its reports. That means EE is included in the figures for landline telephone complaints for the first time, although the company will wish it wasn't. 

BT buying EE: what does it mean for customers?

EE zipped straight to the top of the landline complaints charts, recording 0.33 complaints per 1,000 customers in Q4 2014. That put it just above another a new entrant, BT-owned Plusnet. Indeed, Plusnet, TalkTalk, BT itself and Post Office HomePhone consistently generated levels of complaints that were above the industry average for landlines. 

Things don't get any better for the merging pair when it comes to broadband. EE was again worse than any other provider, registering 0.42 complaints per 1,000 customers at the end of 2014. BT was consistently the second most complained about provider, with Plusnet and TalkTalk also doing worse than average. 

EE was the most complained about mobile network for two of the past three quarters, with Vodafone seeing a spike in complaints in Q4 2014 to wrest a little of the ignomy from EE. To further compound a miserable report for the merging duo, BT was also the most complained about TV provider. Although BT has witnessed a huge drop in the number of complaints about its TV service, it still recorded a level that was five times the industry average.

Ofcom is currently undertaking a "Strategic Review of Digital Communications" which will supposedly "make sure digital communications markets continue to work for consumers and businesses" and take "quality of service for consumers" into account. The first phase of the review is set to conclude this summer, but we suspect there's more chance of Nigel Farage being voted Sports Personality of the Year than Ofcom stepping into prevent BT and EE from merging because of concerns over customer service.

In a statement sent to Expert Reviews, a BT spokesperson said: "We continue to work hard to improve our customer service, which is a major focus for us. Our own figures show a 25% reduction in complaints in the last year. We have created hundreds of extra service jobs in the UK and we are also investing to improve our systems and processes, including our repair process and our approach to diagnosing customer faults. In TV, although the number of complaints continues to fall, we accept that we still need to improve." 

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