Broadband awards put Orange, BT and Virgin Media to shame

19 March 2008 / by Joy Tibbs
While PlusNet came out on top for the second year in a row, the uSwitch Broadband Customer Satisfaction Awards revealed that some of the longest established providers, including BT, Virgin Media and Orange, are falling short of the mark in terms of customer satisfaction.

The company found that more than half of UK residents now have broadband and that 15 million consumers spend £3 billion a year on their deals. However, 50 per cent feel they are not getting the best service, according to uSwitch.

Communications expert at uSwitch.com Steve Weller says: "A figure of one in two customers unhappy with the customer service they receive is unacceptable. Issues can no longer be put down to 'teething problems' – broadband has been up and running for seven years so any flaws should have been well and truly ironed out by now."

PlusNet Broadband won nine of the 11 categories including Best Overall Provider, gaining eight per cent in terms of popularity compared with last year and offering 86 per cent of its customers' satisfaction. Sky leapfrogged rival firm Virgin Media into second place overall, with 81 per cent claiming to be satisfied by their broadband package. Sky also came joint first with PlusNet in terms of value for money.

At the other end of the scale Orange – which has a 10 per cent market share with almost 1.5 million customers – failed to satisfy 35 per cent if its customer base.

Pipex witnessed the largest drop in satisfaction falling from sixth to eighth place, while TalkTalk staged a partial recovery this year. Although 28 per cent of its customers are still not satisfied, the company was up from second to bottom last year to joint sixth place with BT. However, it still received the worst ratings in four categories.

"Once again, PlusNet is putting its larger competitors to shame – it’s definitely a case of 'small but perfectly formed'. The rest of the pack needs to seriously up their game," says Mr Weller.

Meanwhile, despite accounting for 21 per cent of the broadband sector, BT received the worst ranking in terms of value for money for the second year running, although its service is 50 per cent more expensive than the cheapest alternative.

Around eight million broadband customers remain unconvinced that they are getting the best deal their provider offers.

Seven of the nine companies saw customer satisfaction drop below 50 per cent for technical support and the overall customer satisfaction gap between the best and worst providers has widened from 13 per cent to 21 per cent.

"Our advice for customers is to decide what they want from their service, be it price, value or support, and do some research before entering into a new contract. By comparing both price and service levels among providers, customers should be able to find the best deal to suit their needs," Mr Weller concludes.

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