The UK's best and worst mobile phone providers


Updated on 08 September 2020 | 33 Comments

Tesco Mobile remains the UK's best pay-monthly network provider but competition for the title of worst is stiffer than it's ever been, latest complaints figures show.

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. 

At the other end of the table, four providers now share the title of most-complained-about mobile provider: Vodafone, Three, BT Mobile and Virgin Mobile.

According to Ofcom, the key gripe among Vodafone and three customers was the standard of complaints handling, while BT Mobile customers mainly had issues relating to changing provider.

As for Virgin Media’s, the main complaint driver was issues relating to billing, pricing and charges .

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 January to March, 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)

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

There was a three-way tie for second best provider, with EE, O2 and iD Mobile generating two complaints per 100,000.

Sky Mobile was third with three complaints, equal to the industry average.

At the other end of the scale, there was nothing to choose between Virgin, BT, Three and Vodafone, which all racked up five complaints per 100,000 customers.

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.

Obviously looking at such a short period can be unrealiable  – 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

Q4 2018

Q1 2019

Q2 2019

Q3 2019

Q4 2019

Q1 2020

Virgin Mobile

7

6

8

7

5

5

Vodafone

7

6

6

7

6

5

iD Mobile

2

2

2

4

2

2

BT mobile

7

5

6

5

5

5

Three

4

3

2

4

6

5

O2

3

2

2

3

2

2

EE

2

2

2

2

2

2

Sky Mobile

1

3

2

4

1

3

Tesco Mobile

1

1

1

1

1

1

Industry average

4

3

3

4

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.

Get paid cashback on your mobile bills

There are a fair few current accounts that pay you cashback on your general spending or at specific retailers, which you can read about here.

If you're specifically looking to earn cashback on your mobile phone contract your best bet is probably the Santander 123 Lite Current Account, which offers up to 3% in cashback a month (capped at £15) in return for a monthly £1 fee. 

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!

The UK’s worst pay TV provider

The UK's worst home phone provider

The UK’s best and worst broadband provider

 

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