BT Openworld and Vodafone have been publicly named and shamed by UK telecommunications watchdog Oftel for receiving the most customer complaints between April and September 2003.

BT Openworld, BT Group's Internet access division renowned for poor customer service, received almost one (0.7) complaint per 1,000 customers regarding its Internet service. This figure was almost double those of its closest rivals Tiscali and Pipex Communications and well over twice the industry average (0.3 percent). Telewest Communications and Freeserve received the fewest complaints, just 0.1 per 1,000 customers.

The top three grumbles in the Internet sector were billing problems (eight percent), complaints over poor or erratic connection to broadband services (seven percent) and frustration over unreturned calls to tech support (six percent).

Overall, Internet complaints were down from 5,235 for the six months before April 2003 to 4,700 in the same period of time since then. However, criticisms of mobile companies were up on the last set of figures, climbing from 18,000 to 19,950.

Cellular Operations, a company acquired by Vodafone back in March, received a whopping 1.4 complaints per 1,000 customers showing no improvement on its placing for the previous year. The 4U service Vodafone purchased in August came in fourth with 0.7 complaints.

Vodafone itself, which boasts nearly 400,000 customers, came in second, beaten only by the almost perfect Virgin Mobile Telecoms which received just 0.1 gripes per 1,000.