BT 'worst' at handling complaints

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(First Edition)

BRITISH TELECOM has a communications problem when dealing with customers' complaints, according to a survey yesterday in the consumer guide Which?

It found BT was worse than any other public utility at keeping aggrieved customers informed. Half those taking part said BT had not told them enough about the progress of their complaint, and more than half said resolving their problem took too long.

British Rail also fared badly. More than half the customers in the report were not satisfied with the outcome of their complaint.

The survey also painted a gloomy picture of the performance of British Gas and the water and electricity companies. The Post Office did better but was still 'the best of a bad bunch'.

The magazine's editor, Sue Leggate, said: 'Not a single utility could boast more than one in five complainants who were 'very satisfied' at the outcome of their dispute. This is miserable. An astonishing one in five of those who complained got no answer to their initial complaint at all.'

Questionnaires were sent in February to 4,626 Which? subscribers who had complained to a public utility or travel organisation. Of the 70 per cent who replied, 1,743 had made a complaint to one of the companies covered.

BT said it was working towards resolving customer complaints within 10 working days and provided a freephone number for those unhappy with the way complaints had been handled.

British Rail rejected most of the findings. 'We would describe the whole thing as meaningless,' a spokesman said. 'It's based on a survey conducted in February, before we launched our Passenger's Charter in March.

'What they have got is based on anecdotal evidence from disgruntled passengers.'