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Three UK Scraps Legacy Mobile Tariffs – Forces Pricey Upgrade

Saturday, January 30th, 2016 (7:22 am) - Score 2,783

Customers of Three UK are livid this week after the mobile operator began warning them that their old, cheaper and more flexible legacy tariffs would be coming to an end. In some cases the outcome represents a massive price hike, which has resulted in the operator’s #MakeItRight slogan being mocked.

It’s understood that hundreds of thousands of Three UK’s subscribers are being impacted by the move and all have been given just 30 days notice. In some cases customers have been advised that they will be automatically upgraded from their old £15-£17 per month tariff and on to an equivalent one that is around twice the price.

Many of the old packages relate to Three UK’s once hugely popular and far cheaper “all-you-can-eat” (unlimited calls, texts and data) The One Plan, which was withdrawn a couple of years ago (here and here). The equivalent tariff today costs £30 per month on a 12 month contract term.


In fairness the writing has been on the wall since Three UK first withdrew the service from sale, but their approach is unlikely to win much favour.

A Three UK Spokesperson said:

“In March 2014, we introduced new price plans giving customers more options in the size of their data and voice bundles, as well as limits and alerts to prevent bill shock. We have a lot of tariffs that we no longer sell and moving customers to one of the new plans will ensure they can enjoy the benefits of these plans.”

Sadly there’s not a lot that related customers can do, except for either swapping to a different operator or choosing one of Three’s other tariffs. However we would advise that affected subscribers complain to Ofcom because the regulator doesn’t generally approve of expensive automatic upgrades and has tackled both BT and Sky Broadband over similar issues in the recent past.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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28 Responses
  1. Avatar Tim says:

    I left Three a couple of years ago. Couldn’t put up with their lack of indoor coverage and slow roll out of 4G.

    I moved to Tesco and now have a very limited data cap, just 1GB but can make calls and use 4G INSIDE and in a lot more locations. It’s bliss being able to use my phone where and when I want instead of having to hold the phone out the window to send or receive a text.

    I this is a sign of things to come then I really hope Three’s purchase of O2 is blocked by OFCOM. If Three buy O2 I’ll have no where to go other than Vodafone. (I’ll be avoiding EE simply because BT own them).

    1. Avatar Andrew says:

      They are clearly a bunch of dumb asses.
      Three always had an issue with indoor coverage and that was expected.
      Therefore you would expect that they would be the first to roll out proper native WiFi calling.
      Nope! Some shitty app that doesn’t work.
      Who the hell is running that operation?
      It really beggars belief.
      Also VoLTE ONLY on 800 that you can hardly get on (unless you no 3G whatsoever).
      Are they really that thick?
      4G1800 should have been rolled out UK wide like EE, then the 800 could cope and would be available.
      I hope ofcom pull them up over this price rise.

  2. Avatar Vince says:

    Whereas I am more than happy with 3, but I hope they block the acquisition for another reason. I don’t want 2G coverage and I assume what would happen if O2 were merged in with 3, is that 3 customers would suddenly find themselves getting 2G service when right now we enjoy 3G because there is in almost all areas no fall back to 2G.

    This means phones don’t forcibly dump themselves onto 2G as actually the weakest 3G signal is more usable than any 2G signal.

  3. Avatar Jazmin says:

    I suspect this will be the norm very soon for them all. I’m on an old plan with EE called Roaming 46 which now costs £47 however it’s an almost truly international plan which includes roaming in Countries outside the EU. They only offered the plan for a short while. They let me keep it on my last upgrade but I very much doubt they’ll do the same when it’s due for upgrade in December

  4. Avatar dna says:

    I used to be on their £15 One plan too – but they told me in November 2014 I couldn’t have that any more. This is so weird.

    1. Avatar Gareth says:

      It’s been a gradual phase out which started last year, so you must have been one of the early ones to be kicked off the tariff. Did you use a lot of data?

      I was told last year that they would end the people using lots of data first. I never use more than 10GB and rarely get past 5GB. Not been contacted by letter yet.

  5. Avatar Captain Cretin says:


    All O2 customers want the sale to go through so we can GET a 3G signal that works (or ANY kind of 4G signal).

    I get full strength H+, yet speedtest regularly registers my download speed as 2KBps, and never higher than 48KBps.

    Even a direct complaint to the CEO and a “we will investigate” reply hasnt improved matters.

    1. Avatar Vince says:

      Yes, and we had the same issue with O2 – well actually, we couldn’t get 3G most of the time. After 4 years of renewing our contract with the promise it was coming real soon now, we cancelled our business contract with them, and haven’t looked back.

      The vast majority of my friends use 3, we all wouldn’t move. Most of us came from O2 at one point or another, and in my case personally I started on Orange. I tried EE last year for all of a week before I forced them to cancel the contract and let me move back to 3 (and EE took 6 weeks to agree to something that was my legal right). Never again.

      If you don’t like O2 – move. Don’t wait for three to fix it.

    2. Avatar Gareth says:

      Jesus! I left O2 years ago after buying the iPhone 3G when it first came out and never actually getting a 3G signal LOL

      I moved to Three and unlocked the iPhone to use on Three. I can’t believe that O2’s network is still so poor.

  6. Avatar Sunil Sood says:

    Reading the scan of 3’s letter above, it sounds as if they are opening themselves up to the same sort of intervention that Sky had recently from Ofcom about moving customers to more expensive plans automatically.

  7. Avatar Steve Jones says:

    Moving customers to a tariff at twice the price unless they do something is getting pretty close to inertia selling.

  8. Avatar Balb0wa says:

    It was a £15 tarrif with unlimited 4g and tethering, people were abusing it.

    Everyone knew it was too good to be true.

    Its no wonder they are pulling the plug on it.

    1. Avatar Mike says:

      Abusing it?

    2. Avatar JamesM says:

      Yes,abusing it. Using it instead of a fixed line service.

    3. Avatar andy says:

      Thats not abuse, three have stated that you can connect other devices to it.

      In a lot of cases, especially people living in rural areas, (my parents for one) three’s broadband network was over 20 times faster than fixed line broadband.

      I would in no way claim that they were abusing it. Simply using as advertised!

      if three weren’t able to sell the one plan on an unlimited basis with tethering included, they should not have marketed it as such.

      Abuse? no way!!!

    4. Avatar Mike says:

      The reason they removed it was nothing to do with network congestion, their HK parent group said they wanted more profit so they decided to remove unlimited and try and charge extra for hotspot.

  9. Avatar dragoneast says:

    Perhaps all contracts should be made to be either PAYG or a fixed term of one or two years. At the end of the term they pull the plug and you lose service, unless you’ve entered into a new contract at the new price. Consumers are like children, they need to be nannied and can’t be trusted.

  10. Avatar Mike says:

    Cheapest AYCE pay monthly plan is £23.

    1. Avatar andy says:

      its actually £20 on a 12 month contract!

    2. Avatar Mike says:

      Or £20 (1 month) if you signed up before the hike 😉

      I wonder how long before they try and move me up £3…

  11. Avatar JamesM says:

    I agree with 3’s move.

    I get 70 down all morning and about 30-40 in the evening on 4G. I have all you can eat everything including data. I use about 140-150GB a month and a few hundreds minutes and texts.

    I pay £55 a month and that’s just a business sim only tariff. You get what you pay for.

  12. Avatar SpencerUk says:

    I got the same letter last week. Called up retentions, who offered me the All you can eat £20 for £20 for 12 months…So basically the exact same package as I was on before (apart from 12GB tethering apart from unlimited and it’s not £18)…Don’t really see what the uproar is about.

    People have abused the tethering policy and to some extent data (seen people on digital spy showing off how much data they can use…seriously!)..It was going to happen as the network was going to bork!.

    Also if you travel to the Feel at home countries the package along with unlimited data is still pretty deecent value for money

    1. Avatar andy says:

      Its not possible to abuse an unlimited service.

      Three have said that you can use as much data as you like. They may look at cases when you have transferred over 1000GB a month as you may be using it for commercial service but abuse? sorry, No way!!

    2. Avatar Shane says:

      They upped it to 12gb i’m still on 4gb tethering and paying that price!

    3. Avatar Mike says:

      If you can get around the tether block you can keep your unlimited lol.

      Only difference now is that I benefit from more speed as the noobs got booted off.

    4. Avatar Shane says:

      There is no way around tethering block. I’ve been trying to months

    5. Avatar andy says:

      there are ways around it.

  13. Avatar dchao says:

    I just received a similar letter from THREE.
    My contract is for 200min voice + 500MB data + unlimited data add-on (£7 + £3 per month)
    They said my plan has been discontinued too. Not happy at all.

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