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Ombudsman 'resolves' 10,000 complaints against comms providers

The level of customer service offered by companies remains "a significant driver of dissatisfaction"

The not-for-profit consumer complaints organisation Ombudsman Services says it "resolved" over 10,000 customer complaints about communications companies last year, compared to just 500 when it was formed ten years ago.

It says this is no surprise given that consumers are now much more reliant on their phones and the internet.

Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said: "We have learned a lot in the past decade and have made significant changes to our service, which will help us to deal with the next generation of complaints."

Last year, uSwitch reported that broadband was "becoming as important to people's lives as water and electricity".

Ombudsman Sarah Daniel said: "In the early days complaints were about landlines and dial up. Now consumers have multiple devices for use on the move, such as smartphones, tablets and dongles, as well as traditional landlines and broadband services. These devices affect all aspects of our lives, from keeping in touch to watching television."

Ombudsman Services said new data roaming rules that came into force in July 2010 "seem to have had an effect on complaint numbers", as fewer people are complaining about unexpectedly high bills after trips abroad.

Throughout 2012/13 national media reported on communications companies increasing prices during fixed term contracts.

Ombusdman Services said: "It is our view that consumers should be given the right to cancel their contract without penalty if the service provider proposes to increase the in-contract price.

"This option appears to balance the needs of the companies to increase the cost of a tariff while protecting the rights of the consumer."

The level of customer service offered by companies remains "a significant driver of dissatisfaction". During 2012/13 over a third of communications complaints related to customer service.

"We see a large number of cases where the company has misinterpreted the complaint and not addressed the issues that the complainant raised," said Ombudsman Services.

Complaint types handled by Ombudsman Services were quality of customer service (37 percent), billing and disputed charges (21 percent), service (20 percent), contract issues (17 percent), equipment (4 percent) and security (1 percent).

Ombudsman Services does not provide figures in its annual report about complaints that have not been resolved to both parties' satisfaction.


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