The UK's best and worst mobile phone providers


Updated on 19 November 2020 | 33 Comments

Tesco Mobile remains the UK's best pay-monthly network provider while Three picked up the wooden spoon, latest complaints figures reveal.

Tesco Mobile has once again generated the fewest official complaints among customers, new quarterly figures from the telecoms watchdog have revealed.

Remarkably, no other mobile provider has generated a lower number of complaints than Tesco since the regulator Ofcom first added the company to its complaints league table back in 2014. 

Conversely, Three racked up the most complaints in the latest tables and was the only major provider to see complaints increase compared to the previous quarter.

According to Ofcom, the key gripe among Three customers was the company's poor complaints handling (30%), followed by issues relating to changing provider (22%) and issues relating to billing, pricing and charges (21%).

If you're fed up with your provider, or simply need a new phone, why not compare deals with Carphone Warehouse(note: we'll receive a small commission for any purchase you make)

Best and worst: networks ranked

The graphic from Ofcom below highlights how all the major networks compare and covers the three months from April to June, which are the latest figures available.

It's worth pointing out that, while the number of complaints appears low for all mobile providers, these are issues that customers have felt the need to escalate to Ofcom as they've been unable to get their issue resolved directly with their provider. 

In other words, the actual number of complaints made directly to network providers will be much higher. 

Best and worst mobile providers

Mobile complaints (Image: Ofcom)

*As Tesco Mobile’s figure fell below 0.5, for clarity, Ofcom has rounded to one decimal place.

Tesco generated just 0.4 official complaints per 100,000 customers, putting it top of the league.

EE and Sky Mobile were tied in second place with one complaint per 100,000, while O2 and iD Mobile (both on two) were the only other providers to come in under the industry average of three per 100,000.

At the other end of the scale, Three saw complaints increase from five per 100,000 customers to six, making it the worst performer ranked by Ofcom.

Virgin Mobile fared slightly better with five complaints, while Vodafone and BT Mobile both had four.

Which providers offer consistently good service?

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

Looking at such a short period can be unreliable  – any provider can have a problem that takes a few months to fix, after all.

In order to give you a clearer picture of how the mobile network giants consistently fare, we've listed the complaints figures for the last six quarters in the table below.

If you're fed up with your provider, take a look at our pain-free guide to cancelling your contract then search for a new mobile phone deal on Carphone Warehouse or another comparison site.

Complaints per 100,000 customers over the last 18 months

Provider

Q1 2019

Q2 2019

Q3 2019

Q4 2019

Q1 2020

Q2 2020

Virgin Mobile

6

8

7

5

5

5

Vodafone

6

6

7

6

5

4

iD Mobile

2

2

4

2

2

2

BT mobile

5

6

5

5

5

4

Three

3

2

4

6

5

6

O2

2

2

3

2

2

2

EE

2

2

2

2

2

1

Sky Mobile

3

2

4

1

3

1

Tesco Mobile

1

1

1

1

1

0.4

Industry average

3

3

4

3

3

3

Mobile coverage

Practically speaking, the most important thing to keep in mind when signing up for any phone contract is the coverage and reception offered by the operator (you can read how about the best networks for signal and speed here).

Ultimately, an extremely helpful call centre is of little use if you can't even phone them in the first place!

To make sure you don't live in a particular network's 'blackspot', the links below will take you to each network’s coverage map or coverage checker, so you can get a decent idea of the coverage you can expect where you live.

Finally, find out which other providers you should be dodging by reading The UK’s worst pay TV providerThe UK's worst home phone provider and The UK’s best and worst broadband providers.

Compare mobile phone deals at Carphone Warehouse

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently.

Don't waste your time with these ropey providers!

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The UK’s best and worst broadband provider

 

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