Phone customers spend longer on hold than during the pandemic – Ofcom

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Mobile and landline customers spent longer waiting to speak to their provider last year than during the pandemic, Ofcom figures show.

In 2022, despite the impact of Covid-19 subsiding, mobile customers spent an average of two minutes and 23 seconds in a queue, up from two minutes and 15 seconds the previous year, the regulator said.

Broadband and landline customers waited two minutes and 37 seconds on average, compared to two minutes and 16 seconds in 2021.

Average call waiting times by broadband and landline provider (Ofcom/PA)

“With switching becoming simpler, providers that continue to let standards slip should expect customers to show them the door.”

Ofcom’s seventh annual customer service report paints a mixed picture of how providers performed in 2022.

While average numbers of overall complaints fell year-on-year, there were clear areas where the industry needed to improve, particularly around call waiting times and complaints handling, the regulator said.

Across broadband and landline providers, BT, EE, NOW Broadband, Plusnet, TalkTalk and Vodafone all saw their average call waiting times rise in 2022, while KCOM, Sky and Virgin Media managed to improve on the previous year.

NOW Broadband remained the best performer, keeping their call waiting times under a minute on average at 51 seconds, despite taking longer to answer the phone in 2022.

Shell Energy was the worst, coming in at over eight minutes on average.

For mobile, EE, BT, iD Mobile and Three all saw their average call waiting times increase compared with 2021 while O2, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone reduced theirs.

Average call waiting times by mobile provider (Ofcom/PA)

EE had the longest average call waiting times at three minutes 41 seconds while last year’s worst performer, O2, reduced theirs from four minutes to two minutes and 33 seconds.

One in five broadband customers (20%) and around one in 10 (12%) mobile customers said they had a reason to complain about their service or provider in 2022.

Similarly to 2021, only around half of mobile, broadband and landline customers who made a complaint to their provider in 2022 were satisfied with how it was handled.

Among mobile providers, Virgin Mobile scored lower than average for overall satisfaction (81%), while Tesco Mobile and giffgaff customers had higher-than-average satisfaction (both 95%).

Tesco Mobile (95%) and giffgaff (93%) also scored above average for value for money, with EE (74%) and Vodafone (76%) scoring below average.

For broadband, Plusnet customers were more likely than average to be satisfied with their service overall (89%). TalkTalk (46%) and Virgin Media (46%) were both below average on how complaints were handled, while Sky was above average on this measure (55%).

Virgin Media customers had below average satisfaction (70%) with their landline service, with EE (90%) above average.

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