04 November 2015 ~ 0 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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06 March 2013 ~ 20 Comments

Virgin Mobile admits to throttling

virgin throttling

Virtual network Virgin Mobile has come clean about its slow mobile internet speeds. A Virgin staff member called “Krystal_E” has posted an an official statement on the community forums confirming that they are heavily throttling the mobile data connection.

It is claimed that the speed cap is just a “trial” but it affects all customers whether they are on contract plans or PAYG and there is no ending date. Despite numerous denials about deliberately slowing down internet speeds, the throttling has and has been in place since February.

Virgin are arguing that they are throttling internet access to ensure they can “offer a good level of service to all customers”. But in their admission, they revealed that the current cap is set at 2 Mb/second down and just 0.5 Mb/second up. Now many users are complaining they can’t stream videos without constant buffering.

There is some argument for putting a speed cap on mobile data in order to guarantee service for all customers and prevent a small minority from hogging all the bandwidth. However, 2 Mb/second is far too slow and severely limits what you can do with your mobile.

And in any case, to play devil’s advocate, surely it’s the mobile company’s responsibility to ensure they have adequate infrastructure available to meet people’s needs? Why sell so many SIM cards if you can’t provide a decent service for all your customers? This is especially true for Virgin Mobile as they run on EE’s network and they should have plenty of spare 3G capacity.

Virgin Mobile is also being somewhat dishonest as they recently introduced “unlimited” data plans. However, by putting in a speed cap, they are necessarily introducing an artificial hard limit to the amount of data you can download. You wouldn’t have to be a massive cynic to think that maybe they underestimated how much people would take advantage of the unlimited tariffs and are introducing this change to try and limit people after all.

Virgin Mobile users are doubly annoyed as there have already been many changes this year making the mobile data provision worse. There were changes to the fair usage policy limiting monthly usage as well as a ban on tethering back in January. The latest news that they are throttling users’ data access to such a low limit is sure to annoy people.

Indeed, the Virgin Mobile community forums are now replete with outraged customers threatening to move to other networks that don’t cap their mobile data. Questions also have to be asked why it took so long for Virgin to own up to this change? Are they not in the habit of being transparent with their customers?

Some of the furious quotations from customers include “they deserve to be taken to the cleaners on this one”, “I’d personally report Virgin to the ASA” and “I signed up here specifically to state that I’ll be requesting my PAC at the end of this month”. Probably our absolute favourite is as follows:

Joined Virgin on 1GB package on the 16th Feb and left today for Tesco because of all this nonsense … Bye bye Virgin. It’s been a short and messy three weeks. Like a holiday romance with a pretty girl that turned out to be bipolar.

In response, Virgin has claimed that they will never reduce the cap any further. But that’s unlikely to placate their customers most of whom realise that Virgin Mobile hardly make any money on data as opposed to voice calls and suspect that the network is merely trying to reduce its outgoings at their expense.

And the problems don’t stop there. Virgin’s customers are also reporting that the cap is implemented poorly so you get sudden bursts of data followed by almost nothing. While it averages out to about 2 Mbit/s overall, it doesn’t make for useful internet access. We’ll be monitoring the situation closely to see if anything changes. In the meantime, you might want to think about changing to another network that offers a better unlimited data service.

Are you on Virgin Mobile? Did you notice the cap already? What do you think about this decision? And will you be staying with them or jumping ship?

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24 December 2012 ~ 1 Comment

O2 has best customer satisfaction

o2 logoO2 has topped a poll for customer satisfaction rates commissioned by Ofcom. The research involved interviews of thousands of customers between July and September this year and asked customers to rate their satisfaction regarding their interaction with customer services.

The research concerns six mobile network in the UK: O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile, and 3. The networks were rated according to various criteria such as how quickly the issues were dealt with, the quality of the service and the competence and attitude of the customer services representative they spoke to.

O2 topped the poll with a total satisfaction rating of 76%. Following behind were three and T-Mobile who were tied in third place with 67% satisfaction will stop next was orange with 65% followed by virgin Mobile with 64%. The worst rated mobile network for 2012 according to of column is Vodafone. They had a satisfaction rating of only 61% and 18% of customers claim they were dissatisfied after their called the customer services.

Not only did O2 top the poll by some margin but they also had by far the lowest dissatisfaction levels. Only 8% of O2 customers reported being dissatisfied compared to the lowest from any other network at 14% of Three Mobile and Orange customers. O2 also excelled in areas such as the speed it takes to resolve issues and for being easy to contact. There were also commended by Ofcom for frequently offering compensation or goodwill gestures.

The latest findings are very surprising as they come at the end of a terrible year for O2. The company has been plagued by technical issues and has suffered two lengthy outages across its entire network. In fact, it’s been hard to find a good word said about O2 customer services in 2012. User forums have been awash with complaints and unresolved issues and the network has been roundly criticised for the poor way with which it has dealt with the outages.

What’s even more baffling is the claim that they are good at offering compensation when it is due. One of the strongest criticisms of O2‘s handling of its technical problems was the way to dodge the issue of compensation and then gave an incredibly meagre amount for the inconvenience that customers suffered. They didn’t even offer any compensation for the second outage this year. The customer satisfaction surveys also don’t have any mention of satisfaction with the service itself which could also be a problem for O2 as they are renowned for having by far the worst 3G coverage in the country.

Still, O2 will be very pleased with the results which showed head and shoulders above the other networks. It remains to be seen whether this customer satisfaction will translate into increased loyalty to the brand. Vodafone and of course will be very disappointed and it it will be interesting to see over the coming months what they can do to turn these results around.

Another thing learned from the research is that mobile customers are becoming ever more dissatisfied with their networks. The average percentage of dissatisfied customers has risen from 9% to 14% since 2009 – this is a 50% increase. Clearly mobile networks will have to work harder to keep customers happy.

Which mobile network are you with? Have you ever had to contact them about an issue and, if so, how do you rate the customer service you get from them? Finally, does your experience of various mobile networks equates to the findings of the Ofcom survey?

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