04 November 2015 ~ 13 Comments

MVNOs top customer service poll

customer service poll

A recent poll has shown that customers massively prefer smaller virtual mobile networks to the main players. The recent study asked users to rate the customer service and showed that industry veterans such as Vodafone and EE motivated the worst mobile networks in the UK while smaller organisations such as Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile and ASDA Mobile headed the pack.

The poll was carried out by moneysavingexpert.com and asked 10,620 users to rate their mobile provider’s customer service on a scale from “great” through “okay” to “poor”. The network that topped the table was Giffgaff scoring 65% “great responses” with only 5% of their users rating customer service as “poor”. Close behind in second, was Tesco Mobile with an impressive satisfaction rating of 63%. Third placed was ASDA Mobile and coming fourth was Virgin Mobile. It’s worth noting that all of these networks are MVNOs that actually run using other networks’ infrastructure.

Meanwhile, lingering down in last place was Vodafone scoring “great” in only 20% of responses. Perhaps worse was the fact that 28% of their customers rated the service as “poor”. Barely escaping the booby prize was it EE (including its Orange and T-Mobile brands) which shockingly only was scored “great” by 22% of their users.

The other two main mobile networks are Three and O2, who had to be satisfied with mid-table mediocrity being rated great by 40% and 33% of their userbase respectively. Both had relatively high numbers of “poor” verdicts with 12% of their users giving them the lowest grade.

The poll was especially surprising since MVNOs were evaluated so well. For example, ASDA Mobile actually run’s on EE’s backbone yet their “great” score was 54% vs 22% and only 14% of users decided their service was “poor” compared to 24% for EE.

Analysing the results, it should be clear that you don’t have to go with a big name to get great customer service. And just because you’re paying more with a major network, doesn’t mean you should expect to get a superior experience. ASDA Mobile has always been marketed as a budget network yet they completely outperformed their host network, EE, despite using the same infrastructure. Here’s the results in full:

Rank Network Great OK Poor
1 Giffgaff 65% 30% 5%
2 Tesco Mobile 63% 33% 4%
3 ASDA Mobile 54% 31% 14%
4 Virgin Mobile 42% 44% 14%
5 Three 40% 48% 12%
6 O2 33% 55% 12%
7 BT Mobile 36% 43% 21%
8 Talk Mobile 31% 50% 19%
9 EE 22% 54% 24%
10 Vodafone 20% 52% 28%

If you’re not satisfied by your network’s service no matter what their ranking in the table above, remember it’s really easy to switch mobile network. And you can even keep your same number too. We always recommend going for PAYG or SIM-only deals because they are better value for money and you’re not locked in to a network you hate for years at a time.

Where did your current mobile network come in this consumer satisfaction poll? Do you think it’s a fair rating or do you disagree with the judgement? And which network would you switch to if you could?

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13 December 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Three’s 4G era begins

3 ultrafast

Three Mobile has announced that it is finally starting its 4G rollout across the UK. The super high speed signal will initially be available only in London but Birmingham, Manchester and Reading will follow shortly.

The inappropriately-named network has said that the initial stages of the roll-out will be relatively slow with only a few thousand customers able to make use of 4G speeds to start with. Three is the last of the major networks to finalise its 4G plans and will be desperately trying to catch up to its rivals to get a usable 4G signal to the majority of the UK population.

A Three spokesperson said “We have begun to roll out 4G as promised but we are starting slowly as to ensure good customer service. This is a big change so we want to get it right. It’s all part of the evolution of the network.”

It’s now a year after EE first started providing its 4G service and Three has only just begun to turn on its antennae. But, in an attempt to make up for the delay, Three has the most promising deal available from any of the networks. Unlike their competitors EE, Vodafone and O2, customers will not have to pay any extra to benefit from the higher data speeds. Nor will they have to sign up to get locked into new lengthy contracts. And for this, we can only applaud them.

In addition to London, Birmingham, Manchester and Reading, Three has announced that their 4G rollout will pick up the pace in January next year. They have also previously revealed the other regions that will be next to get 4G during 2014. They are Aberdeen, Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge,Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Gloucester,Huddersfield, Ipswich, Kingston Upon Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Milton Keynes, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford,Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Sheffield, Slough, Southampton,Southend On Sea, Stoke On Trent, Stockport, Swindon, Watford and York.

We’re also happy to see that Three have cemented their reputation as the most forward-thinking and internet-friendly network. Unlike all their competitors, they will be the only UK network offering truly unlimited data on their 4G plans. This means having super fast internet on your phone is transformed from being nice-to-have to truly-useful.

Even better, Three has also announced another useful benefit to their customers – completely free roaming in the US. While other networks are happy to cash-in on their customers’ trips and holidays, Three are making the most of their global connections to make life simpler for people rather than try to put their customers through the mangle to squeeze every penny out of them.

Are you a Three customer? Are you looking forward to getting 4G access? Or do you current use 4G on another network? What do you think of Three’s choice to offer it at no extra charge and make unlimited data deals available? Let us know!

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09 December 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Three flip-flops on consolidation

three mobile store

Fast-growing mobile phone operator Three Mobile is now arguing in favour of consolidation of Britain’s main mobile networks. In a statement David Dyson – the CEO of the network – suggested that the number of operators could fall from four to three.

This marks quite a rapid turnaround as previously, Three have been adamant that consolidation should not happen in the UK market. They are the smallest of the main mobile networks with only 10% of the market from their 8 million customers but rapidly growing and have hefty financial backing from Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa.

The most obvious benefit from reducing the number of operators running mobile networks in Britain is that it would drastically cut down the amount of superfluous infrastructure required to cover the UK population. With fewer mobile networks having to provide expensive cell towers and data backbones, unnecessary redundancy can be reduced. It would also mean that each of the remaining networks would have a greater market share and therefore greater revenues to invest in improving their networks.

Despite this, in 2010 Three strongly oppose the merger of the Orange and T-Mobile networks to form the first 4G super network, Everything Everywhere (later to be renamed EE). This produced a massive new entity with a dominating amount of market share and Three were understandably against it.

This was likely because Three has always been the new upstart in the UK market and, indeed, they had to apply for special protection from the regulator Ofcom in order to ensure that it was not outbid by its bigger rivals in the recent 4G spectrum auction.

All mobile network operators are struggling with reduced revenues in light of the general shift to internet protocol-based communication rather than standard voice calls and text messages. Traditionally, SMS was especially lucrative for mobile networks as they made unfathomable profit margins on each text sent. However, nowadays platform such as WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and Facebook are largely usurping text messages on people’s mobile phones.

Three is now arguing that 2014 will be the year of consolidation across the European markets. And they are backed up by research analysts’ reports that there will soon be a wave of mega-mergers of various mobile phone networks in Europe. In fact, a very strong prediction is that Three would acquire O2. Just how much weight we should put on this prediction is another matter entirely as the director of the main insight firm suggesting this will happen has a less-than-stellar track record in his predictions.

O2 is thought to be up for grabs because its parent company has racked up a huge amount of debt which it desperately needs to take a chunk out of. it is drowning in owing of about €50 billion(!) so selling its UK network to Three would be very helpful in achieving this goal. We would also be happy with this deal as it would entrench its position and make it one of the biggest operators in Europe as it already has a strong presence in Austria and several other countries.

With this knowledge, it is only right to be sceptical of Three’s about turn. Hutchison Whampoa has already bought out out O2 in Ireland and is looking to merge the networks. And it would ostensibly appear that their rapid change of tack merely has been inspired by self-interest.

Indeed, it is easy to argue that a reduction of the number of mobile networks in the UK and have a vast the negative effects on the markets. By edging closer to a monopoly and by putting more power into the remaining mobile networks, customers would surely suffer. It’s hard to see how reducing the competition would do anything but make the worst deals for consumers an easy way the new mega-networks to force through price rises. Having said that, it would also mean that we’d see fewer adverts like this in the future.

What you think of this news? Do you think it’s a good idea for Three Mobile to buy out O2? Do you trust David Dyson’s reasoning why your little bit sceptical? And how lucky you think this is can happen in 2014?

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