back to article Three cops spanking in mobile user ranking

O2 rates more than twice as high as Three in customer service, according to readers of Which? Magazine, who rated the country's smallest operator as worst of a piss-poor bunch. The survey asked more than 10,000 Which? readers to rate 75 companies providing ethereal services, and found that First Direct Bank was the most …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Not a surprise

    I was a customer of Three for 12 long long months. It was truly an awful experience - mainly due to the fact that the customer service was offshore and they really didn't have a clue. Basic questions on changing tariffs and new phones couldn't even be answered.

    I've been with O2 as well, and they were ok, but nothing special.

    I'm now with T-Mobile, and got no complaints - they've allowed me to retain a bargain basement old tariff which you cant get now, and I'm quids in.

    1. Ian Yates


      You did well - I survived one month, and then fought to get that money back. My phone constantly said I was roaming (related to their tie-in with... T-Mobile, I think it was) and they promised I wouldn't be charged, but then I was.

      I shifted to T-Mobile only to find out that the "free Internet booster" doesn't include always-on phones (Android, iPhone, etc.). Apparently, they need their own special Internet (this caused a hilarious conversation with the customer support, as they didn't actually understand what I found so funny about their idea of "free Internet").

      Anyway, I'm now with Giffgaff. True, no true customer support, but all of the issues I've had (related to connection) have been solved from a quick forum search, and I can leave whenever I want.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Three are OK...

    ...If you live near a three shop and there's staff there who are geeks, which I do, luckily.

    I was disappointed that this wasn't a police spanking scoresite going up. Maybe El Reg can dabble in the darker arts and fill this gaping hole* in the market?

    *hur hur hur.

    That's right plod, bend over to get your coat.

  3. Dante Alighieri


    I read the title a little differently and thought, YouTube, truncheons and popularity were being discussed.

    Mines the one with the hosepipe in the pocket. Mind the stairs Sir.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No complaints from me

    I've always found Three to be okay .. not stellar customer service (like Apple) but not awful.

    I don't trust Which! surveys though as the majority of Which! subscribers are old fogeys who are aways complaining about something or other 8-)

    1. Anonymous Coward


      As a Which? subscriber I resemble that remark! Damned regtards and their smart-alec comments!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I bank with a few different institutions and have found Smile (part of Co-op) to have the best customer service (actually, I thought FD and IF were very good, but wasn't interested in their accounts).

    Worst? I'd say HSBC (who I've had actual arguments with), partly due to their offshore and undertrained call centre staff. (Anon, because I work for them)

    Try asking them to fax payment verifications to you after 5pm ("the fax department is closed") or email a PDF version to you ("we can't send emails externally"). And that was talking to the manager...

  6. Velv
    Paris Hilton

    Three cops spanking

    I was expecting a whole different article.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    The title

    I thought this was a report on three cops spanking someone! As in police have been involved in spanking people!

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: The title

      Well, that's the wonder of ambiguous grammar for you.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re:the title

        These squiggly things, called punctuation, were invented for just such an occasion. To prevent embarrassing, and disappointing, misunderstandings like that from happening.

        1. Richard IV

          Re: AC:14:33

          And how, pray, would you re-punctuate the headline so as not to be ambiguous?

          These writery people, called journalists, love using these techniques in their headlines. To encourage people to read what might, otherwise, be an uninteresting story. It's called wordplay, not to be confused with foreplay, not to be confused with bad golf.

          Although I'm tired of THOSE RANDOM CAPITALS since that spat with the Grauniad eco-nut...

    2. Anonymous John


      It would have read "Three COPS SPANKING in user ranking" as El Reg is channelling the Daily Mail lately.

  8. Andy Hards
    Thumb Up


    Been with them for 5 years and have had no problems. In my experience some people still hold a grudge from when 3 first started out (which I missed) and they weren't as good as they could have been. Calling their customer services might take a little while but in general they fall over backwards trying to helpyou resolve your problem.

    Planning on renewing again this year too.

  9. Lawrence 7
    Thumb Up

    Yeh, this makes sense!

    I have two people I work with pulling thier hair out with three. One who tried to leave, one who joined.

    the joiner had such a ballache with them customer service wise.

    I'm on o2, rang up to leave on a Sunday, was offered a decent retention, received my working phone + Sim on Monday.

    o2 called me up and offered me home broadband. i took it. Its over two months now and I STILL haven't got it. I live in London not Botswana.

    As much as Ive lost my patience with this their customer service has been fantastic. I cant fault them, just the incompetance of their tech/BT openreach.

    they are well on it and makes the difference from me wanting to <insert potentially incriminating threat similar to one aimed at Robin Hood Airport if you are that way inclined> to being ok with them dealing with whatever the hell they are having trouble with sorting out.

    Still, there is a strongly worded letter ready to take aim at them because of the wait as soon as its all sorted out.

  10. Tigra 07

    o2 can't be the best

    O2 Is only better because the competition is slightly worse.

    Since i got my Android phone updated, o2 has blocked over 18 sites like Sickipedia and wants me to present a debit card and pay £1 to prove my age.

    They already have my date of birth and bank details because i'm on contract with them so this is just blatantly irritating and a rip off.

    1. Trevor Marron

      Yes they debit you one whole pound

      Yes you need debit/credit card details. Yes they debit you one whole pound. They then credit your account £2.50.

  11. Pavlov's obedient mutt

    goddamn it

    I was expecting quite different pictures and a much more 'meaningful' story

  12. Ben Rosenthal


    only had one reason to call them when my Mi-Fi had issues accepting top ups.

    Guy on the phone saw the problem right away and fixed it instantly and in a courteous and pleasant manner.

    Hopefully that carries on, if it does I will gladly move my handset off Orange who are the most unhelpful company I've ever dealt with and have a really terrible network (for mobile internet).

    1. Paul Shirley

      O2 NEED good support more than "3"

      Pretty much the same here, only had 1 problem on Three (couldn't disable my voicemail from a G1) and they fixed it instantly. Comparing Three and O2, more of the service just works on Three so there's a lot less need for customer support. The O2 network is horrible buggy and the missing features more annoying and sadly spills over onto my giffgaff service.

  13. Harry

    I vote with my feet.

    I used to be a Three Broadband customer and so did my parents. The service was acceptable for many months, but then we both found that despite apparently having apparently a full strength signal we couldn't even ping three's own nameserver.

    I tried Three's forum and it was apparent that others had exactly the same problem but the support staff were just waffling and doing nothing about it. Presumably, they too knew that the network was grossly overloaded and nothing could be done about it.

    To add insult to injury, they did an upgrade to 3connect which seems to have contained a purely-cosmetic fix to falsely show stronger signals (a former 3 bar connect immediately showed 5 bars after the upgrade, but there was absolutely no associated improvement in connectivity).

    We voted with our feet and are no longer customers.

  14. Jamie Kitson

    Don't forget

    O2 does ADSL broadband, taking over from Be Unlimited(?) When I first started with them (three years ago now) I was very impressed with their service. It did go downhill mind. Orange took over from Freeserve who were sh!te to begin with and the others don't do ADSL broadband, do they?

  15. 3G
    Thumb Down

    All you need to do is..

    Just give away prizes and rewards and mystery and all that shit. That's why so many people buy a lottery ticket every week, we are rewarded by chemicals in our brains by all this stuff.

    Mobile operators - It seems to target the general public don't worry about coverage, reliability, speeds, just give away gimik prizes and send chocolate bars out and stuff like that and they will love you.

  16. thesykes

    Three customer "service"?

    Hopeless, really, really hopeless.

    I moved two phones over to Three, same make, same model, same network. One went smoothly, the other was a nightmare.

    I spent hours on the phone arguing with call centre muppets who did not have a clue how things work. Several "supervisors", managers and techincal staff later, it transpires my other network were at fault. So why were three hopeless? Simple... being told my phone was faulty, that I had to go to my nearest Three store, where they could investigate, and then they could instigate a technical investigation. Being told that there was nothing wrong because Three could call my number, even though nobody else could. Being told that, as I had not used my PAC code within a couple of days of it being issued, it caused problems (even though it was used well within the 30 day expiry period).

    6 weeks to transfer a number across, with days where two phones could call the same number and two mobiles would ring at the same time (neat trick), to days where nobody could ring at all. Hopeless? Oh yes.

  17. Chrome


    I've just upgraded my phone with O2. Initially the sales bod said the handset would cost me £60, my tariff period would extend from 18 to 24 months and I would have to pay £45 instead of £35p/m for the same contract level. So I asked to be put through to retentions (also had to explain what 'retentions' meant) and managed to retain my £35p/m contract of 18 months *and* got the handset for free.

    But it doesn't stop there, oh no. I ordered on Friday and received a text on Sunday saying my phone would be with me the next day. Some screen protectors turned up. Confused, I called O2 back and they told me the handset was out of stock for another 9 days. So I had me a bit of a rant and convinced them to save me a handset at the local store. That didn't go too well and the store offered me the same deal as was first offered. I went home and had to elevate to speak to a manager who got me the phone from the store and honoured the 'retention' contract

    So on the plus side the managers are competent and the call centres were UK based

    On the negative side I shouldn't have needed to jump through all those hoops

    Anyway, I got my handset and now to take it back because the battery is goosed

  18. Chris Eaton

    O2 Age Verification

    Credit card.It cant be a debit card.

    Also got that message this week,and as far as I was aware all O2 postpay handsets were not age restricted (although prepay ones always are; I think iphone had to be as possibly stock was shared between pre and postpay - contract and pay and go to you all)

  19. Vince

    Can't say I am amazed that O2 beat the others.

    As an O2 customer, I'll tell you why they're considered good by some... like me.

    I'm admittedly with O2 Business, but the tariff I have is brilliant, and despite being 4 years old or more, completely unmatchable by anyone else. Free roaming texts & pic messages, calls and a fixed price cap on data usage for overseas use (handy cause I'm just about to head out the country again), then coupled with free o2/o2 calls (70% of the calls are O2), stupidly generous cross net mins, unlimited texts, truly unlimited usage, brilliant policy on upgrades/changes, ability to let me do sim swaps with no hassle, very good customer services when you do need it, plus other odds and sods (free facebook/twitter text messaging, bluebook, priority for o2 arena stuff) make them utterly compelling. I look at the competition every couple of months, nobody has beaten them yet for pricing or service.

    The only real downsides to O2 are that they still don't think 3G coverage matters (though they are still by far the best on just having basic 2G coverage everywhere I go (yep subjective, but for me I have never been left wanting), and they do seem to have a habit of text messaging delays from time to time. They have also had 2-3 data outages (so have everyone else).

    Of course how people feel on the newer tariffs with less of the good stuff, and consumer customer services I have no idea.

  20. Camilla Smythe

    AOL rubbish!?

    Surely not..


  21. Gert Selkobi


    I have to echo the first post here. I was with three for a few years and left them because they were robbing me blind on internet usage, had awful coverage around where I live and when I tried talking to them in their off-shore call centre, neither of us could understand a word the other was saying even in my best 'phone voice'.

    They offered me the world to stay, but by then I was jarred right off with them and switched to O2, taking my number with me. I haven't looked back. O2 haven't been anything special, but I've not need them to be. But they have provided me with the service I signed up for, with consistency and haven't given me any cause for complaint. That's all I've ever asked, but Three and before them, Orange just weren't up to the job.

    Joke alert icon, as it may alert others to the joke that is Three customer service.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dont try for yourself

    "why Three should rate badly is a mystery."

    Oh not is isnt! Just try calling them.

    Their staff are worse than an a 'flange' of baboons.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Worst and best of a (abysmally) bad bunch...

    I'm not surprised, but TBH most UK companies seem to think customer service is performed in a farmyard.

    Kinda surprised about "AOL Broadband" though, unless they mean the version of TalkTalk calling itself "AOL Europe" that's registered in Lichtenstein and strenuously denies any connection whatsoever with BorkBork when directly questioned on the issue by prospective customers who want nothing to do with said company, then find out the hard way they're now in the clutches of another 24 month contract with a company they tried to get away from.

    Across the board the UK has some of the most rotten customer service in the world - what amazes me is how the great unwashed put up with it - and are chastised for not being grateful for the continual reaming being received.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    I work in a impartial mobile phone shop, so we sell all networks and tend to see all the problems as well as all the positive customer service experiences.

    Since I started the job 2 years ago three has always been consistently the worst when it comes to customer service and outright lying...

    We have a few demo iphones in the shop and sometimes we will get cold calling from three sales call centres, one of my colleagues decided to have a bit of a play with them once and pretended to be a customer thinking of upgrading, he asked them a few questions to see if they would be honest or lie to him. They lied about all their call centres being in England, then he purposefully asked for a phone that he knew had had a hell of a lot of faults.

    Even the manufacturer had recalled them due to software issues! He asked if there was any problems with the model of phone stating he had read about the faults in a magazine. The guy on the other end of the phone blatantly said it was a great phone and one of the most reliable if not the best phone to choose and that they weren't aware of any faults.

    This isn't a blanket statement saying three lie to you, it could have been a third party selling three phones or it could have just been a sales rep not completely up to scratch on his phones. But seriously...I have always had the impression of the poorest customer service from three since i started the job. Its what my colleagues told me when i first started and its what iv experienced after sitting on the phone for a good hour trying to resolve an account issue for a customer. Sometimes its something as simple as a number port and the three customer service rep on the phone asks to speak to the customer to confirm DPA and before you know it he's trying to push insurance, if they want mobile broadband or some other sales junk.

    At least the other networks only tend to get pushy with sales if you called their upgrades department, generally if you call for a number port thats what they'll sort for you, quickly with little hassle and end the call with "Is there anything else we can help you with?"

    Other problems with the three network that we see daily, are customer putting contract sims from three in sim free unblocked handsets and then receiving texts saying "Your handset is not a three handset and has been blocked". No other network does this.. and where as this isn't a customer care problem it is a problem that gives angry customers a reason to jump networks.

    I have twice seen o2 wave bills over 200 quid for customers as a one off customer care acts of kindness, because the customer has been genuinely unable to afford to pay their bill. One occasion it had been their son who had run the bill up browsing the net on the phone and the other occasion it was a pensioner who's grand daughter had done similar. I've never really seen this happen with any other network.

    Terms of how id personally rate networks:



    T-Mobile (their welsh disconnections department is lovely)

    Vodafone (ton of messing about sometimes with phones not connecting or number porting, but maybe thats just because we aren't vodafone direct)


  25. jamesrhamilton


    O2's network is pants, customer service is ok. Three's network is good, customer service is offshore. Need I say more?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It's bribery...

    I'm on o2 and got a chocolate bar from them in the post a month or so ago. Organic, too. I've found their customer service decent at best, which is more than can be said for most big companies in the sunny UK. Methinks their strategy is to try harder with customer service because bulk buying chocolate is cheaper than improving your network. Sadly this results in an epically pants network, which is why I will be leaving them come contract death time.

    Paris, because she loves o2 for the yummy chocolate too.

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