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Which? Labels Vodafone as the Worst UK Mobile Network Operator

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019 (12:54 pm) - Score 3,618
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Consumer magazine Which? has released some results from their latest 2019 consumer survey of Mobile Network Operators (MNO), which ranked Vodafone as the worst overall provider. By comparison Three UK came top of the big four operators, although smaller virtual operators like giffgaff tended to fair the best.

The survey, which is based on responses gathered from 6,135 members of the magazine during February 2019, allowed people to rank each operator by categories such as customer service and value for money. Unfortunately this year we only get a very limited breakdown of the results and naturally you have to pay to get a full summary from the magazine itself.

Overall it was mostly smaller Virtual Mobile Network Operators (VMNO) that customers rated more highly and top of this pack was giffgaff, although Which? hasn’t actually provided any overall satisfaction scores and so we’re not sure where they all place in the ranking. However 95% of giffgaff customers said the operator is good or excellent when it comes to value for money and 97% would recommend them to friends or family.

The study also noted that SIM-Only deals were on average 31% (over £3 a month) more expensive with one of the biggest four operators than with one of the smaller virtual networks.

Top UK Mobile Operators by Satisfaction (Big Four) – 2019

1. Three UK

Three secured average scores in most categories and 80% of their customers felt as if they were good or excellent value for money. On top of that 43% said its “Go Roam” offering was excellent value for money.

2. O2

Some 10% of O2 users rated them as poor on the value for money scale, while only 25% felt as if their incentives and rewards were either good or excellent.

3. EE

EE customers felt as if the operator was poor for incentives (16%) and value for money (13%). Meanwhile only 27% said they received good or excellent service for technical support and their ratings for ease of contact (42%) and customer service (43%) were also weak.

4. Vodafone

Overall 18% rated customer service as poor, while 13% rated the quality of tech support as poor and 19% said they gave poor value for money. Some 24% also moaned about the operator’s weak incentives and rewards.

As usual we recommend that readers take such surveys with a big pinch of salt and to balance them against feedback from other reports. For example, recent network tests conducted via Opensignal (here), RootMetrics (here) and Tutela (here) appear to tell a very different story, often choosing to favour Vodafone and EE over Three UK and O2.

Ofcom’s latest figures also show that EE, O2 and Three UK received among the fewest complaints in the mobile industry (here).

UPDATE 2:22pm

The overall customer satisfaction scores appear to be as follows. Thanks to several providers for helping us to fill in the blanks.

Giffgaff 87%
Utility Warehouse 81%
Plusnet 80%
Tesco Mobile 79%
Asda Mobile 77%
Sky Mobile 76%
ID Mobile 70%
Three UK 69%
BT 65%
Virgin Mobile 64%
O2 62%
EE 56%
Vodafone 51%

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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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14 Responses
  1. Avatar Olly

    Purely from a ‘value for money’ incentive, I sure do understand it. But from a network performance or coverage standpoint, one should quite literally reverse the order of this list.

    Why would a consumer choose a lower priced but slower and unreliable mobile network? Oh, because major publications like Which tell them to! The Which article is ludicrous and I hope they face a hefty legal battle.

    • Avatar dave

      Why should they face a legal battle just for publishing a summary of their own reader survey? You sound like you have a vested interest.

      Personally I think Vodafone is probably the best all round network for price, coverage where I need it, incentives etc but that said my main phone is no longer with them due to their atrocious customer service with which I have had many an issue in the past, including outright lies and false promises.

      I do have a secondary phone with them alas it was recently barred for no obvious reason. It was eventually reinstated after many phone calls to various depts however there was no explanation as to why they barred it in the first place and it was unbarred without any special effort on my part except for calling them (e.g I didn’t have any unpaid bills and didn’t need to send any documents to prove id due to suspected fraud or anything like that).

      It just reassured me that moving my main phone away from them was the right thing to do!

    • Avatar Mark

      Actually no, O2’s network is shockingly bad, 3 is better in my area and that’s with a 3G signal! I can have full 4G on Tesco Mobile and not be able to browse any webpages.
      That’s why I’m moving to Smarty..

  2. Avatar dragoneast

    Ask a silly question …

  3. Avatar StillWaitingForSuperfast

    6135 is quite a small sample compared to the number of mobile connections in the UK (anyone have a figure for that?)

  4. Avatar CarlT

    Or more accurately Which? customers complain about Vodafone’s pricing.

    Just moved from Which? #1 network to #4 due to network issues.

    Different priorities for different people.

  5. Avatar Stephen Wakeman

    I appreciate that the percentage rating is linked with limited sample size which may not be equal between networks. But with that said, it’s kind of ranking turds isn’t it?

    If the network operators scores below the 80th percentile, then really it’s showing is poor regardless of whether you consider that figure in isolation or judge it against another.

    Example, Network X scores 55% compared to network Y which scores 61%. You might think to go with network Y, but really, it’s still a crap score. If it is in any way reflective then it’s telling of the state of the mobile and telecoms industry. Which I think a lot of people feel is a race to the bottom.

  6. Avatar Paul

    How does plus net keep scoring highly

    • Avatar Mml

      I’m with Plus Net and I’m wondering the same thing. Of course, their prices are great, you get more for £5 from Plus net than from Giffgaff. But then again, network outages on Plus net have become a regular thing, roughly once a week I have a situation where I can’t make any calls for a few hours.

  7. Avatar FibreBubble

    Providers where customers work referrals scores highly with customers working referrals. That is a shocker!

  8. Avatar Declan M

    Totally agree patchy coverage, worst customer serivce i have had to deal with better off talking to a wall.

  9. Avatar Chester

    Which?: ‘Don’t buy based on a lie’ ‘Our reviews tell you the truth’
    Me?: ‘Buy based on ya life’ ‘Their rev-iew tell’s me nowt’ (unless I’m lookin for a new garden hose, which? I ain’t) Which? used to be a credible source, now designed for folk who ain’t got a scooby! Much like emseleves. Outdated an overrated! Ya never need to part wiv ya filthy lucre an subscribe ta fing’s vat dish out nonsense, can folk not see wood’s fer tree’s? an if ya wanna talk ta wall’s, may I recommend their banger’s!

  10. Avatar Rich

    Which surveys are not worth much IMO. They need to release info on their demographic and geographic data of voters to give further insight.

    Also they need a question in there such as “do you resell or have any affiliation with the network other than being a customer?” as UW, although probably decent on the call centre side is simply a MVNO so results like this which put them way higher than their base network always amuse. You see it on the fixed line side as well.

  11. Avatar danny

    them that rate giffgaff so highley must never have been cut off or threatend over there data usage, also speeds are awfull i could never get over around 4mbits then theres that always on throttling to 0.384 mbits from 8am and 12am witch is is a joke in 20219 i left for three and get unlimited with no threats or warnings on data usage and speeds i can actually watch videos and download things with 🙂

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