The UK's best and worst broadband providers

Shell racks up the most complaints, while EE generates the fewest. We look at how the major broadband firms compare in the latest Ofcom complaints tables.

Shell Energy has racked up the most official broadband customer complaints for the third consecutive quarter, latest figures from Ofcom have revealed.

The most common gripe about Shell related to service issues (40%), complaints handling (30%) and billing issues (23%).

At the other end of the scale, EE replaced Sky as the broadband provider with the fewest complaints raised against it.

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How the best & worst firms are ranked

Every quarter, Ofcom provides its breakdown of complaints per 100,000 customers that each major provider attracts. 

These stats take some time to put together, so the latest figures that we're discussing in this article cover the period between January and March 2022.

If your provider features near the top of the complaints list, or you simply want a cheaper deal, make sure you compare broadband deals in your area today.

It's straightforward and you could save hundreds, especially if you opt to bundle your broadband with your landline and pay TV provider.

As a final point, while the figures below might sound extremely low, it's worth remembering these aren't just for complaints made to broadband firms: they are issues that have been escalated to the regulator because customers have been unable to get their issues resolved directly with their provider.

The actual number of unhappy customers will be far higher than this as these only cover the documented, extreme cases.

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Broadband complaints ranked from least to most

Ofcom broadband complaints (Image: Ofcom)

UK's worst broadband providers

As mentioned earlier, Shell Energy has been ranked the worst broadband provider, racking up 22 complaints per 100,000 customers.

That's a sharp increase on the previous quarter's total of 15 and means its complaints are seven times higher than the best performing firm.

Given that the firm only recently purchased the Post Office's broadband business – this is only the fourth time it has appeared under the Shell brand in the Ofcom tables – it's fair to say the firm hasn't enjoyed the strongest of starts in terms of complaints.

Virgin Media saw its complaints rise from 13 to 18 per 1100,000 customers over the quarter, putting it second last in the tables.  

TalkTalk (14), Vodafone (13) and Plusnet (11) are next on the list, and the only other firms to come in above the industry average of 10 complaints per 100,000 customers. 

Speaking of which, the average number of gripes generated decreased ever-so-slightly during the latest quarter, having stood at 10 per 100,000 in the previous three months.

Your rights if your broadband connection goes down

UK's best broadband providers

At the other end of the league table, EE bumped Sky off the top spot with complaints dipping from five to three (interested in joining Sky? Check out the latest deals here).

These two companies are consistently the best performers in the complaint stakes, having shared the top two positions for the last 11 quarters in a row.

So if you are in the market for a new broadband deal and value excellent customer service, you may want to give either of these a try. 

The only other firms to come in under the industry average were BT (7) and NOW Broadband (8).

Below are the results over the past six quarters to give you a clearer picture of how well (or not) the various broadband providers treat their customers over time.

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Complaints to Ofcom per 100,000 customers 

Provider

Q2 2020

Q3 2020

Q4 2020

Q1 2021

Q2 2021

Q3 2021

Q4 2021

Q1 2022

TalkTalk

22

18

19

24

19

17

14

14

Plusnet

9

23

21

21

15

13

8

11

BT

7

16

14

15

10

9

7

7

Virgin Media

12

20

23

33

17

15

13

18

EE

3

7

6

7

4

4

5

3

Sky

4

6

7

7

5

5

4

4

Vodafone

21

26

30

24

13

12

13

13

Shell Energy

 

 

 

 

13

17

15

22

NOW Broadband

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

Industry average

10

15

16

19

12

10

9

10


Should you switch even if you're happy?

The above figures give you a good idea of which firms have the worst track records for treating customers fairly. 

But even if you are with one of the better performers, it's seriously worth considering switching if you've been with them for more than a couple of years.

Why? Research has highlighted how broadband firms are charging existing customers the best part of £200 a year more for the identical service being offered to new customers.

So even if you're happy with your service, you should still ensure you aren't getting ripped off by regularly shopping around for cheap broadband deals.

As a final point, if you're currently mid-contract and your provider is planning to hike prices, there are new rules that should make it easier for you to ditch them penalty-free, which you can read about here.  

Which are the best and worst telecoms firms?

So, there you have it, your round-up of the UK's best and worst broadband providers.

Find out which other telecoms firms you should be dodging by reading The UK’s worst pay TV providerThe UK's worst home phone provider and The UK’s best and worst mobile networks.

*This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently.

 

More on phone and broadband:

The cheapest and best broadband deals

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How to cut the cost of your Sky TV, broadband and phone bills

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