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Survey Reveals Most Common UK Mobile Operator Complaints

Tuesday, Jun 4th, 2024 (11:19 am) - Score 2,480

Consumer magazine Which? has revealed the results of a recent consumer survey of 3,739 UK mobile users, which found that the most common complaints related to poor signal, price rises, receiving SPAM from their provider and poor customer service. Three UK and Lyca Mobile were also most likely to have had customers experiencing a problem in the past year.

The results, which are somewhat intended to complement their annual 2024 consumer survey of UK mobile operators (here), found that problems with mobile signal and network connections topped the table and were reported by 17% of mobile users (i.e. typically involving consistently poor phone signal, frequent but brief network dropouts or network outages that lasted more than a whole day).

In addition, 6% of respondents said they received unwanted or irritating marketing communications (i.e. calls, texts and emails) “from their provider“, while another 6% complained that a recent price hike was “unexpected or unreasonable” and 5% experienced problems with customer service in the past year (e.g. difficulties resolving complaints/queries and contacting support (e.g. long call waits)).

Finally, a third (33%) of respondents said they had not changed their provider for more than 6 years, which increases for most operators when only looking at the largest four networks – EE 47%, Vodafone 44%, O2 43%, Three UK 30%. But sadly, that’s all the detail they’ve released.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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18 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Rob says:

    I would Say poor signal, O2 says I should have good indoor signal, I don’t

  2. Avatar photo Chris says:

    I suspect “Poor Signal” masks a multitude of different things. Where I live pretty much all the networks suffer from massive congestion at peak times so the network will slow down from 100Mbs+ to 1-2Mbs. The problem being the backhaul rather than the actual signal.

    I’d not be surprised if Three doesn’t loose alot more customers since they introduced their policy of requiring a different email address for each account. I was locked out of my account for 4 months before I finally gave up & switched provider.

    1. Avatar photo Rob says:

      In my area o2 have had congestion so calls drop out or a problem with the phone mast

  3. Avatar photo Rik says:

    I just hope OFCOM don’t do something silly with this information. I’m happy with my network. Yes, it’s more expensive but I get the signal, and the speeds I need at the places I need.

    I tried an o2 SIM and it was a load of rubbish. 10mbps on 4G anyone?

    1. Avatar photo bert says:

      got you beat. 2mbps on vodafone

  4. Avatar photo DaveP says:

    “Which” surveys are always ‘in house’ polling only their subscription members, not the general public! Thus whilst these polls may coincidently indicate something, it’s not really true. Unrepresentative of a more balance view/trend using random proper polling general public. Therefore treat with caution.

  5. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    Do those complaints include transmitting at a power equivalent to using a cat’s whisker and a three-volt battery, which is so fragile it varies between night and day (Data rate goes down at night when “Lift” conditions prevail ! Euh ???).

    In this part of suburban NW London, it is a good day if you get 10mbps down on 4G indoors (Its usually 3mbps now) with signal strength varying between two and three bars.
    EE has suddenly started providing a data rate one-third of Giff-Gaff (Euh ??)

    And you can’t get a 5g signal indoors.

    That sort of disadvantage might make a young lad think the mobile providers are doing a “Quid-pro-quo” with their landline equivalents.

    I recently purchased a cheapo standalone mobile modem, for the purposes of providing a failover to my landline router, thinking that a more modern chipset might have provided a better data rate than the 6 year old 4G dongle I had been using – result, no improvement.

    When one considers that theoretically, 4G should be able to achieve at data rate of 70mbps and its in actuality its only achieving a 20th of that in a Suburban setting, you might be wondering “Who’s putting the fix in ?”

    The toytown computing and over commercialisation story continues

  6. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    Also, why should the data rate go down at night when electro-magnetic “Lift” conditions in the radio spectrum exist to aid the propagation of radio signals . . . usually !.

    I think the effect I experience locally at night must be a case of CEO’s magic wand . . . . or a version of General Hogmanay Melchett’s “Maximum security”.

  7. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    Judging by the number of previous posts I’ve had moderated out here . . its obviously “Brown-Nose Day” for mobile providers.
    This site getting worse than Fox-News i.e. an approval-only echo chamber. Petty-bourgeouis “cancel-culture” par excellence.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Perhaps try reading the note that has been sitting directly below the comment box for the best part of a year: “Your comment may not appear instantly (it may take several hours) due to static caching or random moderation checks by the anti-spam system.” Every poster goes through the same system.

      In addition, making several identical posts or comment spamming a single topic is likely to get flagged and thus take longer for approval.

    2. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

      I always get “Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.” so i’m obviously on the naughty step!

    3. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Every single person posting an anonymous comment will see the same, except admins. You aren’t any different.

  8. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    No one has yet started marketing hand-made semaphore flags for use in the journey back to the 14th Century techno -fuedalism.

  9. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

    With Three it’ll be signal, complete lack of coverage in rural areas and ludicrously oversubscribed masts with such pitiful back-haul to data-center’s its 4G is utterly useless from 5pm daily, if my past experiences are anything to go by.

  10. Avatar photo Chris Corner says:

    A lot of negative comments about mobile services here. Does anyone think that a particular mobile phone provider is doing a good job on coverage or is everyone as bad as each other. I’m with Vodaphone in the North East of England and 5G seems a lot worse than the coverage maps suggest, but it’s hard to know what’s really happening.

  11. Avatar photo Peter J says:

    ‘the most common complaints related to poor signal, price rises, receiving SPAM from their provider and poor customer service’
    I have to agree hole heartedly. Poor signal is my and everyone I know biggest problem.

    In fact poor signal is so bad I’m surprised the mobile phone companies get away with stating the coverage they do as it’s a massive lie.

  12. Avatar photo Lily says:

    O2 is genuinely the worst mobile network I’ve ever used. Very oversubscribed and the backend clearly can’t handle it. I see a lot of hate for Three but I switched to them last year and it’s been great. My data actually works in the town center now. Ironic considering O2 has a shop in the town center yet there’s no working data and if there is it’s still 3G only.

    1. Avatar photo Mml says:

      Perhaps that’s why they’ve been the slowest so far in turning their 3G off. You’d expect people to go up to 4G, not fall back to 2G once the 3G is gone.

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