Today, Arcep presented the annual scorecard for its consumer-centric actions, and on the complaints received on its “J'alerte Arcep” user reporting platform, over the course of 2019. The press conference was held with special guest, Christophe Naegelen, the Deputy who has proposed a bill that seeks to regulate cold calling and combat phone scams.
Launched in late October 2017, this platform allows any user, whether an individual, a business or a local authority, to report a malfunction they have encountered in their relationship with their fixed or mobile telephone operator, internet service provider or postal operator.
- For users: to create an opportunity for their experience to influence market regulation, to incentivise operators to improve their services and further develop their networks. It also allows users to rapidly obtain advice tailored to their circumstances;
- For Arcep, to enable it to track the problems encountered by users in real time, and to detect both spikes in user alerts and weak signals to target its actions, and to be more effective in its regulatory actions aimed at operators.
Arcep received close to 24,000 complaints in 2019, including 20,000 posted directly to the platform. The remaining complaints were received through other channels (e-mail, post phone calls).
Overall improvement in users’ satisfaction with their operators
There was a significant decrease in the number of complaints received in 2019:
- A total 24,000 complaints received in 2019, compared to 34,000 in 2018;
- And 20,000 complaints logged directly on the “J’alerte l’Arcep” platform in 2019, versus 28,000 in 2018.
This decrease was due to a combination of two factors. First, during its first year of operation the platform benefitted from the impact of its launch and substantial media coverage, which was less significant in 2019. Second, the number of complaints also appears to reflect an improvement in users’ satisfaction with their operators, particularly with respect to the malfunctions observed during the platform’s first year.
These conclusions, recached by analysing the complaints received on the platform, are largely confirmed by a survey that Médiamétrie conducted on a sample of 4,794 individuals who are representative of the population of France, and who have fixed internet access and a mobile phone. According to the survey, average user satisfaction levels, expressed as a score of 1 to 10, increased from 7.45 in 2018 to 7.65 in 2019.
Although not representative of the population, nor of concrete instances, these complaints help shed light on the breakdown of complaints between the main operators.
Arcep pinpoints three lessons and key areas to watch: spam calls, postal service quality and the disparities between the information supplied by Arcep (notably on its “Mon réseau mobile” website) and users’ actual experience.
By analysing the complaints, Arcep was able to examine several concrete cases and, depending on the problems encountered, to employ the various instruments at its disposal: from issuing a warning to deploying its arsenal of enforcement measures when required.
In several instances, the complaints received allowed Arcep to appeal to the operators involved in real time, and to find a rapid solution. To give an example: the actions that Arcep took in response to the complaints received from several users enabled the swift resolution of the difficulties they were having in accessing several websites (including the ”J’alerte l’Arcep” platform itself) on a certain operator’s network.
During its press conference, Arcep detailed several concrete cases to emerge from the user complaints it received, and the measures it took as a result. Among the most noteworthy were:
- The complaints about spam calls which account for a substantial percentage of the total complaints received. The numbering plan that Arcep put into place last August recommends that operators filter calls coming from abroad that use French telephone numbers. It also encourages them to implement call authentication. Deputy Christophe Naegelen, who proposed the bill currently being debated by Parliament that seeks to regulate cold calling and combat phone scams, addressed the matter during the press conference. If the deputy’s proposals are adopted, Arcep could fully play its role by making operators the first ones accountable to consumers who are victims of these calls, to ensure they protect them systematically;
- Complaints from local authorities or individuals regarding problems encountered by users of La Poste services attracted Arcep’s attention:the Arcep Executive Board body responsible for settling disputes, legal proceedings and investigations (RDPI) will be interviewing members of the La Poste executive to ensure that the individual cases brought to its attention will not reoccur, and to ensure that postal carriers will not fail to make their rounds in every city and village.
- Complaints regarding disparities reported by users between the information published on Arcep’s map-based tools (especially its “Mon réseau mobile” website) and the reality in the field. To address these expectations, Arcep will be increasing the reliability thresholds to provide more accurate maps. To this end, Arcep has begun to work on requiring that operators produce mobile coverage maps with a reliability threshold of 98% instead of the current 95%. In addition, Arcep may rely on this type of complaint when choosing the areas where it will perform its audits to verify the accuracy of these maps.
Arcep improves its “data-driven regulation” tools
These first two years of user reports have enabled Arcep to draw valuable lessons on its operations and the relevance of the categories it proposes: to increase its capacity to draw value from user complaints and take more effective regulatory action, the “J’alerte l’Arcep” platform will evolve over the course of 2020. New categories will be added (“app developer” process, print media distribution market, “consumer association” profile), and a system will enable users to report any inconsistencies between information provided on the site and their experience on the ground, directly on the “Mon réseau mobile” site.
 Statistics obtained between 17/10/2018 and 17/10/2019
 Although not representative of the population, nor of concrete instances, these complaints help shed light on the breakdown of complaints between the main operators.