Posted: Tue 23rd Apr 2024

Virgin Media rated worst for customer service in latest Which? survey

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There are calls for Virgin Media to urgently improve its customer service as new analysis from consumer champion Which? finds it is the worst broadband firm for customer service.

Since late 2023, thousands of consumers have got in touch with Which? to share their experiences of shoddy customer service in sectors including energy, financial services, telecoms and travel.

An overwhelming frustration shared in many of these stories is that companies are not providing prompt responses and resolutions when people get in touch about a problem.

All too often, this means customers are being left on hold, stuck in never-ending chatbot loops or passed from department to department with no resolution or helpful answer to their query.

Telecoms is currently one of the worst performing sectors for customer service.

In Which?’s 2023 customer service survey, one in five people (22%) said they were unhappy with their most recent customer service experience with a telecoms provider, one of the highest scores across energy, financial services, retail and telecoms sectors.

Which? analysed data from its latest annual broadband customer satisfaction survey, 2023 customer service survey and the stories shared with the consumer champion’s customer service tool to find out how well broadband firms are performing for customer service and if they are providing timely and effective responses.

Virgin Media was the worst performing broadband firm for customer service – coming bottom for overall customer service, quick and helpful responses and technical support. The supplier received a satisfaction score of 38 out of a possible +100 for overall customer service, 26 out of +100 for ease and speed of getting in touch and 34 out of +100 for technical support.

Michael Barraclough, aged 62 from Bradford, had to get in touch with Virgin Media after two weeks of broadband signal issues – the start of an ordeal that took six weeks and 18 phone calls to resolve.

He was initially told his issues would take seven days to resolve. A week later, Michael was still having issues so he raised a formal complaint over the phone. Virgin Media’s response was a rehash of the advice available online – such as to reboot the router – and did not resolve the issue. Michael then asked for a replacement router but never received a reply.

A week later, he emailed the complaints team and informed them he was going to escalate his complaint to the regulator. He was told he could order a router from customer service and was eventually sent two – one of which did not work. An engineer was then sent out and was finally able to resolve the issue.

Michael said: “My experience of trying to get what is a simple router issue resolved is one of frustration. Something which should have taken a few days to resolve, took many weeks and an engineer visit. Virgin Media’s customer service processes are inadequate as no one took ownership of the issue. It was left to me to push and raise formal complaints before my broadband issues were addressed. They didn’t even offer any compensation for the poor service and have now given me a mid-contract price increase”.

At the other end of the scale, Zen Internet took first place for overall customer service – with a satisfaction score of 84. Utility Warehouse and Plusnet also performed well with satisfaction scores of 74 or 72 for overall customer service.

These findings highlight just how dramatically the quality of customer service can vary between individual firms. It is never OK for firms to provide sub-standard customer service, but in an essential sector such as broadband that millions rely on to work from home, study and keep in touch with friends and family, it is completely unacceptable.

That is why Which? has launched a customer service campaign calling on companies providing vital services to up their game if they are falling short of the standards their customers deserve.

As the worst performer in the essential broadband sector, Virgin must make urgent improvements and demonstrate that it is making it easier for customers to get timely and effective solutions to their problems when they need help. Which? will be keeping a close eye on other poor performers in the broadband sector to ensure their customer service improves.

As part of its drive to improve customer service standards, Which? is asking all consumers to help shape its campaigning by sharing their customer service nightmare stories using a simple online tool.

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said:

Customer service has hit rock bottom – with some customers stuck in endless loops just trying to get help.

Virgin Media was named the worst broadband firm for customer service in our research – faring particularly poorly for technical support and providing quick and efficient responses. This is particularly unacceptable when the company has enforced mid-contract price hikes of almost nine per cent this April, on top of an increase of almost 14 per cent last April.

“While many consumers will rightly consider switching, firms that are falling short must urgently make.

Virgin Media spokesperson said: “We are investing and making changes across our business to deliver tangible customer service improvements and ensure all customers receive the best possible service. For example, we’re multi-skilling our teams and rolling out new IT platforms that make it easier for customers to get support and have issues resolved the first time they get in touch.

“On average, customer calls were answered within two minutes last year and we resolved 95% of complaints during a customer’s first initial call.”

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