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Communications Regulatory Bodies and Complaining

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 14 Jan 2020 | comments*Discuss
Cisas Otelo British Telecom O2 Vodafone

If a complaint with a UK communications provider proves unsatisfactory then the customer is entitled to take their problem up to the national regulatory body and its various ADR schemes.

The New UK Communications Regulator

Ofcom is the new regulator for the communication industries in the UK. Its has taken over the reigns of overseeing television, wireless communications, radio and telecommunications from the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Radio Communications Agency, the Independent Television Commission, the Radio Authority and Oftel.

Ofcom deals with complaints about UK communications but as a large national authority it will tend to only deal directly with serious breaches of standards and fairness. For instance a complaint can be submitted to Ofcom directly if a TV programme breaches the broadcasting rules by featuring a product or brand; a act known as product placement

Local Resolution

Smaller issues, such as complaints about content and misinformation, should first be directed to the manager or customer service department of the organisation directly responsible and if this proves unsuccessful, then move on to the appropriate Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Seek Advice

When considering a complaint to Ofcom it is sensible to first seek advice from a local Trading Standards Office or Citizens Advice Bureau. They will not only offer free guidance but may even take up the complaint themselves.

For communication hardware problems, if the complaint fails to find a resolution within the provider’s own procedure then Trading Standards and the Citizens Advice Bureau should be contacted about how next to proceed.

Ofcom have a website that provides useful advice on how to action a complaint within all their areas of communications responsibilities.

Alternative Resolution Schemes

If a telephone or internet service provider’s own complaints procedure is unable find a resolution within 12 weeks, or admits defeat by issuing a letter of ‘deadlock’, then the customer should be informed of an ADR scheme they can then pursue.

It is now law that all telephone and internet service providers have to be a member of an Ofcom-approved ADR scheme. There are currently two standard schemes – Otelo and CISAS.

If a customer has a complaint about a communications service provider, the organisation should inform them which scheme they subscribe to so that it can be followed up with them. If a company is not a member of either scheme then Ofcom should be informed, so that action can be taken against them.

CISAS provides a free, independent arbitration service, and the Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman (Otelo) offers an ombudsman scheme but each are focused on resolving disputes between telephone and internet service providers and their customers.

When is a Complaint Eligible For an ADR Scheme?

The complaint must concern a company that is a member of the respective CISAS and Otelo schemes. Currently Otelo’s membership includes British Telecom, O2 and Vodafone, and CISAS has Orange, T-Mobile and Tiscali.

Both schemes stipulate that a complaint must concern the provision of mobile phone, landline phone or web services, as well as well as specific services like voice mail and text messaging. Complaints could cover such subjects as customer service, repairs, privacy or accounts and billing.

Neither scheme is able to deal with complaints regarding the content of the internet or phone messages. They are both free services and are available to all consumers and very small businesses.

Potential Outcomes

The companies with either CISAS or Otelo membership are bound by the conclusions of the scheme and can be ordered to provide an explanation or apology, offer a certain service or product or pay up compensation of up to £5000.

Nevertheless, big consumer success stories and large payouts are a relative rarity. For the period of 2005-06, Otelo concluded that 30% of cases either required no action or prompted a non-monetary benefit recommendation, whilst in 35% of cases less than £50 was awarded.

Accepting or Declining the Decision

Once the consumer receives a verdict from the ADR they have 6 weeks to decide whether to accept it or not. If they accept it then the guilty company must take the appropriate action within the succeeding 4 weeks. If the consumer declines the verdict or fails to come to a decision in the allotted time then the decree is no longer binding and they can pursue the case in the courts.

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I checked my photos me bill online today and this number 08700670874 has come up a lot in one week and on other days to the cost of over £35. My bills for the last 6 months have always been around the £37 mark and my next bill to include theses charges comes to £72. I contacted 02 today to question who's number this was as when I googled the number is unknown and o2 confirmed that the number is an unknown service number which I would have to pay for as apparently I have made the calls. I have never made here calls somasked to complain about them. O2 have advised that they have 5 days to contact me regarding this dispute. What do I do now as no one else has access to my phone and I have never made these phone calls.
Nads - 3-Jun-17 @ 8:25 PM
I was (not now) a Vodafone customer for many many years. Came home from work 5.9.15- a date I will never forget-to a letter from a debt collector. I phoned the number listed to be told Vodafone passed on my account to them. It was regarding an upgrade taken out on 28.5.15. As it happened a family member fraudulantly took it out in my name!! I contacted Vodafone constantly, up to 5 times a day..advisor would pass me to another dept. I would have to go through the whole story again and again, the call would cut-off, I would be put on hold-the longest time was 37mins- excuse after excuse. I was by this time irate, raging, at my wits end. When I threatened going to the paper I was told they would investigate and look for the culprit after I gave them her recent address. I was advised the case was closed but it wasn't. I had a heart attack in the November and the medical staff said the stress Vodafone put in me was the cause. Even typing this I feel wound up. Vidafone are a DISGRACE and their customer service DIABOLICLE. Does the story end here?? I wish..2 weeks ago I recieved a letter from ANOTHER debt collection agency Vodafone have sent my details too. I honestly don't know when this is going to end!!! As far as I'm concerned the fine they recieved today is no way near as much as it should be.
janiepies - 26-Oct-16 @ 7:40 PM
I have been an o2 customer for many years but since I had my iPhone 5s I have not been able to get a 4g signal for more than a couple of seconds. I have previously contacted customer services who said their was nothing fault wise. When I first had my nano sim it was faulty and it was replaced by another which was ok I was told there were a batch of faulty sims. I have never been able to use 4g data speeds or 3G and gprs was common and no good, I have been paying £20 per month for texts, mins and data and recently o2 upped my data from 2 gig to 3 gig which I said in my complaint is useless if it's not working. I have complained and complained but kept getting fobbed off and no resolution. Thursday I contacted o2 complaints for the last time and also chat section and was told their was actually a technical fault and I explained this had been going on for a long time, getting dead spots, calls dropping, texts unable to send and coming up no service, no 4g or 3G even and I said I am being ripped off as paying for a service that I cannot get. Yesterday I recieved a text message from o2 saying the problem had been fixed and low and behold have been able to use the Internet 3G and even 4g speeds on my phone wow I asked why I had been sold down the garden path with inacurate answeres and as usual customer services just kept apologising and reading from their customer service script which does not resolve the situation. O2 have had a lot of money from me over the last year and I have been ripped off and unhappy about it they have fobbed me off with different information such as faulty phone and settings etc which I knew it wasn't as had my phone checked. I feel I should be compensated for the data I have not been able to use as it is down to a fault o2's end and finally admitted it. Overall I am not impressed with it at all and looking for a better provider. I mentioned to customer services to look at my monthly data useage and that is proof that very little gets used and that's because it wasn't working as it should do. A rip off and will be writing to their governing body.
Niv - 30-Jul-16 @ 10:25 AM
I have been a Vodafone customer for approx 17yrs and I have 2 numbers on 1 account. In September I upgraded my primary phone no. I was told that I did this at the same time as they changed their systems at Vodafone and in the process of migrating my account onto the new system it lost all my DD info and split my numbers onto 2 separate accounts. I lost access to my online account to. It took a week to get my new phone working as I had to have a new sim and they deactivated my secondary no. In error. We got that sorted then it took a few weeks of constant phonecalls to get my online account sorted. Then we discovered my DD info had been lost and after 6 weeks of calls to Vodafone to get this sorted I had one week of being cuthe off (both numbers) every day and I would have to call and get reconnected because my bill hadn't been paid (even though I had called them constantly trying to sort it out but their system wouldn't save my DD info.) From then (Nov 2015) until now my bills have been wrong every month and every month I have had to call them every day for two weeks after my bill comes out to get the error corrected. I have been lied to repeatedly, I always get told they will call me back but not one person has so far. My numbers finally got merged back onto one account last month and I was assured that the problem was finally resolved. However April's bill was for over £100 (nobody knows exactly how much my text said it was £104.26 but one adviser said I owe them £116 and another told me £133 according to their system) after an adviser checking my usage and looking at every bill they confirmed that my bills since my upgrade come to £298.78 I have paid £278.93 so I should only owe them £19.85. They have escalated this to their back office team to investigate and they have come back saying no duplicate charges were made. We know that already!! They were asked to investigate why the system is generating these ridiculous bills every month when they have received all my payments. They have been sent another request to look at it again and it was specified again what the issue is but I was assured that I would here from them after 5 working days but once again I haven't. I have had 7 months of constant calls to Vodafone who are not dealing with my issue. I too have been laughed at down the phone as well as lied to (2 advisers posed as managers) and mislead. They are not dealing with my issue and just keep fobbing me off but also refused to release me from my contract with no penalties even though I have given them 7 MONTHS of CONSTANT requests to just sort out my bills. This will be affecting my credit rating and I am now losing sleep as I am so stressed. I rely on my phone as I livery in the middle of nowhere if my car breaks down it is my lifeline otherwise I am stuck with my children 7 miles from the nearest town. Please please somebody help me I can't do this any more it is actually making me ill what else can I do??
Lee - 30-Apr-16 @ 10:11 AM
Josie - Your Question:
I am a Vodafone contract for more than 8 yrs. in my acct. I pay 38.80 but I pay more than £50. Which this certain company called Optimus which they cannot stop on charging my mobile for £4.99 every week for the last 12 months or more is very painful in my budget and also I'm paying for not knowing what it is. So many time I contact Vodafone but until now they don't do anything. I have only part time job now which is 28 hr a week with a minimum wages , I cannot do anything except to accept this ? Why ? Pls do need a help. Don't know what to do? Ty

Our Response:
You may be able to get contact details for 'Optimus' from your bank as I assume the direct debit goes through your account? This will mean you can contact the company directly and find out what you are paying for. You could always cancel the direct debit if you do not know what the payment is for.
ComplaintExpert - 12-Apr-16 @ 11:56 AM
I am a Vodafone contract for more than 8 yrs.in my acct. I pay 38.80 but I pay more than £50. Which this certain company called Optimus which they cannot stop on charging my mobile for £4.99 every week for the last 12 months or more is very painful in my budget and also I'm paying for not knowing what it is . So many time I contact Vodafone but until now they don't do anything. I have only part time job now which is 28 hr a week with a minimum wages , I cannot do anything except to accept this ? Why ? Pls do need a help . Don't know what to do? Ty
Josie - 11-Apr-16 @ 1:58 PM
Any ideas folk? They would be greatly appreciated!Been a vodafone customer for over 15yrs, several months ago they offered me a new contract to run along with my existing contract, they said I would benefit from an updated handset.They sent the handset out and as it wasnt an up to date phone I declined their offer and said I didnt want the new contract the day the phone arrived.They advised they would send out a return bag, pop it in that and return-job done they said....Bag never arrived so as it was coming close to day 14...end of cooling off period I contacted vodafone who said I could return it to a store, which I did. I then called vodafone and they confirmed they received the handset.My bills seemed to increase over the last few months...when I looked we were being charged for the contract that was supposed to have never started!Long story short, we have to phone vodafone on a regular basis, each time they say we will get a full refund in the next 3-5 days, and eventually today they laughed on the phone.....At the end of my tether! Could cancel my DD but then it will effect my credit, where do I go from here? Please help!
Lors - 27-Nov-15 @ 11:01 PM
Hi, I hope you can help. Vodafone have been giving me the run around since the 18th October and I'm still getting no where. They charged me for going over my data plan, even though I had only used half of my allowance. When I checked my bill I noticed they had also billed me for calls I made from the previous month, which were outside of my plan. My billing cycle runs from the 5th to the 6th of each month and my understanding is that I pay for what I use during that time. On the 6th of November my bill had charges from before the 5th of October, Vodafone say, well depending on who you speak to that they can change my billing cycle without my permission and can charge me at anytime for calls I make, I don't no how I can prepare for these bills. I use the 'my vodafone' app but this seems give bad information. Over the past month I have spoken to Vodafone atleast 8 times trying to get an understanding but today is the last straw. I have had their advisers say they cant bill me for calls from another month, others say they can, I've had one say she would give me £10 towards the unexpected bill, I spoke to a very rude lady today who laughed and was very patronising. I have requested to speak to management but there advisers refuse to put me through or do then cut me off. I have received a text which I have copied...We're really sorry, a recent technical issue meant that your recent bill amount was incorrect. This has now been fixed and you will not be charged any extra, but you may see it appear on your bill for reference. Again, we're really sorry for this. Vodafone said they have no record of this message. I was told a senior member of the team would call me back today but never, I have cancelled my DD. Please help!
Jihn - 11-Nov-15 @ 7:05 PM
@Dinah - In the first instance, I'm afraid you would have to contact the store you bought it from directly who will advise you what your best route of complaint will be.
ComplaintExpert - 30-Jul-15 @ 12:32 PM
I purchased a vodaphone 4 smart turbo from an Asda store in Nov 2014, it hasn't worked properly from the day I got it, but thought it could be me that was doing something wrong ! I always have to take it in to a vodaphone shop every month to top it up as it says my number is not a vodaphone number, even the vodaphone stores I go in to cannot rectify this, they have called customer services for me and they can't rectify it either or understand this. Also when I'm making a call the phone closes down like I had switched it off and on again, and it needs charged twice a day and the carver input piece dose not work properly either as iv got to learn something on it to keep it charging which also takes hours, for exp' I had just taken it off a full charge to write this and it now needs put back on, now I am at my Witt's end with this phone and network but I can't afford to just fork out and buy another handset as I'm a single parent with three kids, I hope to hear from you asap please and get some sort of settlement as I am not at all pleased with your handset or network. Before Nov 2014 I had been a customer with 02 for years and did not once have any trouble with that network. Thank you for reading my complaint, Yours Diane Robb.
Dinah - 28-Jul-15 @ 1:46 PM
@Gnomes - Vodafone has a complaints policy and department which you can use via the link here, if you feel you are being treated unfairly. I hope this helps.
ComplaintExpert - 29-May-15 @ 11:20 AM
On the 6th of April got a call from Vodafone saying that my contract was ending on 29th may, so I needed to change my tariff on that night, and was told that my monthly instalments would double after the 29th May. I told the person I spoke to cancel my contract as of the 30th May. I wrote to Vodafone on 18/04/15 saying that I was terminating my contract as of 30th May 2015. I phoned them tonight to ask for the PAC numbers, the man I spoke to was aggressive and said that if I terminate on 30.05.15 then I would incur an early termination fee as I could not end my contract till 18.06.14. He confirmed that I had a 24 month contract that I set up on 29/05/13 which ends 29/05/15 but I could not leave before 18/06/15. I said to him not to pull a fast one and I will not be paying an early termination fee as my contract ends 30.05.15.I also said that I wrote a letter stating this on 18.04.15 and no one from Vodafone has contacted me to challenge this or at any other time informed me that the contract finished in June and not the end of May. What a completely badly run bunch of bullies, threatening their long standing customers in this way and behaving like those doorstep sales men who won't take no for an answer and con you out of money.
Gnomes - 26-May-15 @ 8:29 PM
@lewis - Checking coverage before switching is very important, as each network may have better or worse coverage than others. Of course you were not to know and you will have a case to answer if you were told the reception was good by Vodafone (generally phone calls are recorded) and yet the shop specifically told you there was no coverage for your model. If you are finding it difficult to complain, try going via the site resolver.co.uk, link here, it is a free service that will help you complain right up to ombudsman level. I hope this helps.
ComplaintExpert - 20-Apr-15 @ 1:54 PM
I bought a mobile phone contract from Vodafone for a Samsung galaxy s3 in august 2012 based around a 3g contract the service prvoided was alright but not great, I rarely had signal bit when I did it was ok. I got a phone call in June 2014 for an opportunity to be upgraded early I jumped at this as I was offered an ok deal for a Samsung galaxy s5, I currently receive unlimited texts, minutes and 2gb of data based around a 4g plan. I was concerned about the coverage in my are for 4g as I live in Yorkshire and I didn't think we would be that advanced this far north, however the lady on the phone assured me that I would get the best fastest coverage better than any other provider. When I received the phone I could not find any signal anywhere for at least a week and when I finally got it it was an E symbol so it wasn't up to much. I went into a local Vodafone shop and a lady in there told me my area dosent receive 4g coverage and wouldn't be able to until at least 2017. This is ridiculous as I don receive and have never received 4g since I received the phone. I have tried to phone up and cancel many times but I get thrown backwards and forwardsand then told I have to pay excessive data charges on my monthly bills for coverage I don't receive and that to cancel would cost me hundreds of pounds. And to add my partner is on EE and receives constant coverage of 3g and never loses it. Is there anything I can do to get out of this overly expensive contract that I took on a 4g basis for which I don't get.
lewis - 17-Apr-15 @ 11:02 PM
@peter - I'd make sure you cancel any direct debit so that charges don't come out. I would also email them if you can and ask for specific instructions about returns, at least with an email you have evidence you have tried to get this phone back to them.
Will - 6-Mar-15 @ 2:44 PM
I purchased a Vodafone pay and go handset, 2 months ago, when I received it, the next day I asked for it to be returned, apparently they have put various orders through for it to be collected and it hasn't been. They wont collect the phone or send me a bag to send it back. Every time I phone up I keep getting transferred from department to department waiting in que for over 1 hour. Any department I speak to say I have to speak with the internet returns department. I have asked for various call backs from managers but no one calls back
peter - 5-Mar-15 @ 5:47 PM
Just had the most unusual call with Vodaphone. I am disputing a bill following cancellation of service. The amount they say I owe is just over 500 pounds. I said that if this was the case then lets all cut to the chase and go to court where you will have to demonstrate that I owe this money. At the time of cancellation I was told the cost would be around 35 pounds. He then said 'We are never going to do that" he then said "we will puta credit default notice on your credit report that will put you under pressure to pay up. Remember this will be on your report for six years" I asked if this was true and he said it was in the Vodaphone terms and conditions and that I should look through them myself to find it. He was not prepared to say where this appeared in the terms and conditions.I then said that what he had stated was highly unethical and that the call was being recorded (by Vodaphone) I asked him to repeat his statement but he then when in to a very defensive mode and terminated the call. I think he thought I meant that I was recording the call. Aside from the dispute I find this wholly unethical for Vodpahone to act in this way. In the meantime I have debt collectors phoning me every day. Can anyone suggest how I get Vodpahone to be accountable and accept a reasonable challenge to resolve this. At the moment they are acting like thugs. The impact on my credit rating is self evident.
Mercury2014 - 12-Feb-15 @ 1:15 PM
Vodafone the worst phone comany in history. Last straw 24 hr service. More expense this week forwarding my unattended letters to ombudsman.
Victoria Orford - 26-Oct-14 @ 11:58 PM
Please standardise all mobile phones to have a mobile phone bill in paper form and itemised. Please also standardise and link cap on data tools. Please regulate junk texts sent from provider. Please make this clear in the advertising. Please bring standards of mobile phone use back to where they were. Vodafone is a sloppy, underfunded tin hut organisations. Phones 4u r fine. Tariff providers are slobbing out. Phones are bills not angels of hierarchy.
Victoria Orford - 28-Sep-14 @ 2:30 AM
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