Whether you're experiencing a BT Broadband outage or fed up with EE's coverage in your area, the UK communications regulator known as Ofcom is there to hear your complaints. Here's everything you need to know about complaining to Ofcom.
Internet connectivity is almost as important as running water for many people today. Our computers, our phones, our TVs, and even our homes all rely on it to varying degrees. In an age where you can see Pokémon levitating above your pint glass, internet outages just aren't really on.
Peeved off that UK broadband providers and mobile networks still can't get their act together? First of all, breathe – at least Southern isn't responsible for your internet connection.
And second, rejoice, because complaining is relatively straightforward.
Ofcom is the UK telecoms industry regulator and handles complaints about everything from faulty broadband to dodgy Love Island scenes.
Here's what you need to do.
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How to complain to Ofcom about your broadband
When it comes to complaining about broadband, Ofcom notes that it doesn't handle individual complaints online, so you first have to lodge a complaint directly with your provider – here are the links for complaining to each of the main UK broadband providers:
If you feel your provider fails to offer a satisfactory resolution directly, that's where Ofcom becomes doubly handy. It recognises two ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) schemes – CISAS and Ombudsman Services.
Ombudsman Services covers BT complaints, and you can see who deals with other providers using Ofcom's free ADR checker.
You'll want to do your homework before escalating your complaint. If you're after financial compensation, for example, consider how a service outage may have affected your livelihood.
Are you self-employed and work from home? Then being unable to get online could have resulted in lost earnings – the same is true for small businesses.
Being unable to Facebook your mates or tweet your latest selfie? You might have less luck.
If you're still not sure where to get started and don't fancy calling Ofcom – let's face it, phones are really only for catching Charmanders these days – then just head to the Ofcom complaints hub for guides on how to raise your issue.
How to complain to Ofcom about your mobile network
If you've got an issue with your mobile network provider, the method of addressing this is very similar to the way you deal with broadband complaints. Indeed, Ofcom bundles the two provider types together in its complaints section.
Again, Ofcom stresses that it can't handle individual complaints regarding your mobile network. As such, your first port of call should be to try and resolve the issue through your mobile network's customer service department. Of course, most of you will have already taken this step, which is why you're here.
Before you take the issue up with Ofcom directly, you should issue a formal complaint with the network provider. Here are the links for making such a complaint to each of the main UK networks:
If your provider doesn't respond within eight weeks of your formal complaint, you're entitled to go straight to the ADR.
As with broadband complaints, there are two ADR schemes covering mobile network complaints: CISAS and Ombudsman Services. All four of the UK's major mobile networks (EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three) are covered by Ombudsman Services, while Virgin Media is covered by CISAS. You can check which ADR scheme applies using Ofcom's free ADR checker.
While Ofcom doesn't deal with individual complaints, it may investigate mobile networks if there's a pattern of complaints. As such, it's worth using Ofcom's monitoring form for complaints relating to call costs, billing problems, mobile use abroad, voice and data allowance, or a lost or stolen mobile using the appropriate section of the Ofcom website.
How to complain to Ofcom about TV and radio content
Your TV provision is typically bundled in as part of the same package with your broadband or mobile provider, and so is Ofcom's advice on avenues of complaint. If you have an issue with your TV provider, the aforementioned advice on broadband complaints applies.
However, Ofcom also provides a separate means for complaining about TV content itself.
Ofcom provides a hub page offering guidance for complaints concerning a programme you saw or heard, one you were in, TV and radio advertising, subtitling and signing issues, and even radio station formats.
It's worth noting that while Ofcom regulates UK programming, it isn't a censor. It doesn't have the power to approve programming before it's broadcast, so any such advanced complaints should be taken up directly with the broadcaster itself. You can find contact information on registered broadcasters here, while a full list of UK On Demand services can be found here.
You should also be aware that, as with broadband and mobile network complaints, Ofcom won't respond to your complaint on an individual basis. Rather, it publishes any of its findings and rulings on its Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin reports page.
When it comes to BBC content in particular, Ofcom shares regulation responsibilities with the BBC Trust, and any complaints about accuracy, bias or references to brands should be addressed to the BBC's own complaints section.
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Have you had success lodging complaints in the past? Let us know your tips in the comments below.