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The UK's worst mobile phone provider

lovemoney staff
by Lovemoney Staff lovemoney staff on 27 March 2014  |  Comments 39 comments

We take a look at the worst (and best) mobile network operators.

The UK's worst mobile phone provider

The mobile phone has evolved substantially since the days it resembled a brick. And likewise, the amount we rely on our cellular friends has changed. Indeed, for many people, if their mobile stops working, so do they.

Which is why receiving good customer service from your mobile operator is now more important than ever.

Ofcom complaint figures

Ofcom publishes data on the number of complaints it receives about each of the big telecoms providers, including mobile phone networks, each quarter.

It's now reporting complaints separately for Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go providers.

These are its results for Pay Monthly mobile phone providers from the most recent report, covering January to March this year.

Provider

Complaints per 1,000 customers (Q1 Jan-Mar 2013)

Complaints per 1,000 customers (Q2 Apr-Jun 2013)

Complaints per 1,000 customers (Q4 Jul-Sep 2013)

Complaints per 1,000 customers (Q4 Oct-Dec 2013)

T-Mobile

0.19

0.17

0.13

0.11

Orange 0.16 0.13 0.12

0.12

Three

0.14

0.09

0.06

0.03

Vodafone

0.09

0.04

0.05

0.05

Virgin Mobile

0.06

0.07

0.09

0.07

O2

0.05

0.03

0.03

0.03

Orange and T-Mobile have switched positions for the lead as T-Mobile see a slight reduction in the number of complaints against them. Those two and Virgin Mobile are still above the industry average of 0.06. Orange customers mainly complained about billing and complaints handling.

O2 have kept their level of complaints at 0.03 per 1000 customers, while Three have now matched this.

As Ofcom receives very few complaints about Pay As You Go providers (which, by their nature, are far easier to switch), it doesn't provide a company-by-company breakdown. It says it receives fewer than 30 complaints per month per provider, which means the statistics are subject to small fluctuations and, as such, could be rendered meaningless.

Which? research

Last year the consumer group Which? carried out its own research into mobile phone operators by speaking to 8,000 customers. These stats not only took into account the handsets, costs and clarity of bills offered by providers, but also included a wider range of operators.

Here are the results for contract and SIM-only phones:

Network

Customer service

Resolving issues

UK call costs

Network coverage

Handset range

Accuracy of bills

Incentives

Customer Score

Tesco Mobile

4/5

4/5

4/5

4/5

4/5

5/5

4/5

72%

Talkmobile

4/5

4/5

4/5

4/5

4/5

4/5

4/5

67%

O2

4/5

4/5

3/5

4/5

4/5

3/5

4/5

63%

Virgin Mobile

4/5

4/5

4/5

4/5

3/5

4/5

4/5

57%

Three 3/5 3/5 4/5 2/5 3/5

3/5

3/5 56%
T-Mobile 3/5 3/5 3/5 3/5 3/5 3/5 3/5 56%
EE 3/5 3/5 3/5 3/5 4/5 3/5 3/5 56%
Orange 3/5 3/5 3/5 3/5 4/5 3/5 3/5 55%
Vodafone 3/5 4/5 2/5 3/5 3/5 3/5 4/5 55%

Here are the results for Pay As You Go:

Network

Customer service

Aftersales care

UK call costs

Network coverage

Handset range

Incentives

Customer Score

GiffGaff 3/5 3/5 4/5 3/5 - 3/5 81%

Asda Mobile

4/5

4/5

3/5

3/5

2/5

2/5

74%

Tesco Mobile

4/5

4/5

3/5

3/5

3/5

3/5

71%

Three 3/5 n/a 3/5 3/5 3/5 2/5 65%
O2 4/5 4/5 2/5 3/5 4/5 3/5 63%
Vodafone 3/5 3/5 2/5 3/5 3/5 3/5 62%
Orange 2/5 2/5 2/5 3/5 3/5 3/5 56%
Virgin Mobile 3/5 2/5 2/5 3/5 2/5 2/5 56%
T Mobile 3/5 2/5 2/5 3/5 3/5 3/5 52%

So Tesco is the most onsistent performer at the top end, while Orange struggles in both areas.

The survey also shows that pay as you go operators emerged slightly better than their contract counterparts when it comes to customer service.

But customer service and price aren’t the only factors you should keep in mind when shopping around for a new mobile phone.

Mobile coverage

Practically speaking, the most important thing to keep in mind when buying any mobile phone is the coverage and reception of the handset and operator. However, when it comes to comparing the best networks for this, the answer gets a little tricky as so much of signal strength depends on location.

The links below take you to each network’s coverage map or coverage checker so you can get a decent idea of what coverage you can expect.

O2

Orange 

Three

T-Mobile

Talkmobile

Virgin Mobile

Vodafone

This is a lovemoney.com classic article which is regularly updated

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Comments (39)

  • John Fitzsimons
    Love rating 43
    John Fitzsimons said

    Hi Stevie

    As you can see from the top table, the figures refer to the last quarter of 2013, which have only just been published. We update this article each time the latest stats from Ofcom come out.

    John

    Editor

    Report on 02 April 2014  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Quartermoon
    Love rating 0
    Quartermoon said

    Have you also updated the stats from Which used in the last two tables? The Customer Score percentages do not make sense when compared to the results of the categories listed and scored out of 5 each. Is this because the original Which report had other categories not listed here?

    Report on 04 April 2014  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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