What is the best way to successfully complain to my phone and TV providers?

Paul Lewis / 06 August 2013

Companies involved in communications are often the hardest to get in touch with. Landline and mobile phone firms, broadband providers, and satellite TV companies can seem difficult to deal with if you want to do anything except join, upgrade, or pay.

So what do you do if you have a complaint? All communications firms must belong to a dispute resolution service. There are two – Ombudsman Services and CISAS (Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme). You can find out which service your telecoms provider belongs to from the firm itself or from the regulator Ofcom at http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/2009/12/adr-schemes.

But before you get to that stage you must try to resolve the complaint yourself.



Initially you will probably complain by phone.

Keep a note of any conversation as you make it or just after. Write down the date and time of the call and the name of the person you spoke to. That will help you recall things.

If the firm records such conversations – and most of them do – knowing when you made it will enable the firm to track it down. If the firm did record the conversation, you have a right to a copy or a transcript of the conversation but you will probably have to pay £10.

All these firms must have a complaints procedure, so once you feel you are being fobbed off, say that you want to make a formal complaint and ask how to do that.


Taking your complaint to the Ombudsman

When you complain it may be worth mentioning you intend to take your complaint to the Ombudsman or CISAS. The firm will pay a fee for each case referred to them so resolving a case before it goes to the Ombudsman or CISAS will save it money.

The firm can have up to eight weeks to resolve your complaint. If it does not do so within that time or if it writes to say it will not take your complaint any further you can go to the Ombudsman or CISAS. You must do that within nine months of first making the complaint.

The Ombudsman or CISAS will then try to resolve the dispute and if it finds in your favour it can order the firm to apologise, explain what went wrong, take action to put it right, and give you compensation. The services deal mainly with individual customer complaints but small businesses can also use them.

In the last year the services resolved more than 10,000 complaints about communications firms. Customer service was the top complaint, followed by billing and charges and the service offered. Whatever your dispute, one of these services may be the answer to your comms headache.

More information

Ombudsman: http://www.ombudsman-services.org/communications.html or call 0330 440 1614.

CISAS: www.cisas.org.uk or call 020 7520 3814.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.