back to article Three rips up call centre outsourcing contract with Capita 2+ years early

Well colour us shocked! Three UK is ending its business process outsourcing contract with Capita years ahead of the expiry date amid insider allegations of poor performance. Instead the telco and ISP intends to bring certain functions in-house and offshore others to Tech Mahindra in India. Capita has now put 380 UK staff …

  1. IGotOut Silver badge

    So a piss poor service

    to another piss poor service, but cheaper.

    1. ChipsforBreakfast

      Re: So a piss poor service

      Exactly. Customer service being piss-poor was the reason I left three two years back. Their call center operation was utterly horrendous, one of the very worst I've ever encountered (and given I've spent more time yelling at BT than I care to remember that is saying something!).

      It doesn't look like I'll be going back anytime soon...

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: So a piss poor service

        Of the big four mobile providers, Three seem to rank as the third worst, after Vodafone and BTEE.

        1. IGotOut Silver badge

          Re: So a piss poor service

          Oddly, Giffgaf with almost no customer service, is the best to deal with.

    2. John Arthur

      Re: So a piss poor service

      "and offshore others to Tech Mahindra in India"


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So a piss poor service

        Why do they insist on cheap call centres in India?

        I'm still suspicious that when I was with BT, my home number and some Openreach type details ended up being used in an attempt to scam. I can probably imagine that my details probably leaked out from one of those Indian call centres to the scammers. They knew just enough from my old account that I no longer had with Openreach or BT.

        I hope Tech M have a good information security policy for all of Three's customer details.

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: So a piss poor service

          Why do they insist on cheap call centres in India?

          Because they're cheap.

    3. johnfbw

      Re: So a piss poor service

      The only call centre with such bad service that when I called up to renew my contract (knowing the offered deals) I decided to cancel

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So a piss poor service

      I genuinely can't believe there is customer service worse than BT, in terms of Openreach and BT Retail. Openreach has no public facing customer service so it's impossible to complain about FTTC cabinets at capacity, and reporting faults via BT Customer Services ends up being connected to a call centre in Mumbai, where there is no understanding of the local terrain / location, so proves impossible to explain a line fault which doesn't occur at a particular postcode/address, i.e. a cable down in the road. (which still down, and hasn't been fixed 12 months later, still sits loose thrown in the verge). i.e. BT don't fix things even when they are reported, if it's out of sight, out of mind.

      Add to this, more than useless Ombudsman Services, who found in my favour against BT Retail for another issue, but said the amount was materially insignficant (to me as a individual) so didn't pursue BT, yet replicated across all BT customers, what BT was doing was worth at least several million to BT.

      (The Ofcom initiated line rental policy of reducing line rental for those without a bundled Broadband Service to £11.99, which turned out (at the very last minute) to be for those with no Broadband, yet the online eligibility on BT's website, showed I qualified, but I was still billed subsequently at the higher rate).

      Ofcom, here's an idea why not publish the numbers that are actually getting this discount still since lockdown, Is Ofcom too embarassed, does no one get this headline discount any more, after Ofcom spent months bigging it up, then quietly watered it down.

      Dealing with Ofcom itself, is even more dedious, because the complaint is treated more akin to market research gathering for the organisation itself, so you're expected to give up all privacy to pursue a complaint, so many don't.

      And the only reason I wouldn't know Three is worse, is because I don't have a Three signal inside my house, so there's no point using them.

  2. Tubz

    Moral of the story, don't work for Crapita or Three, 2 companies deserving to go bust and rot in the pits of hell !

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Are 3 any worse that the other big 3-4 telco's?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes. Yes, they are. Nothing would tempt me to be a customer ever again, even if they promised everything for free. They would still manage to deduct hundreds of pounds from your bank account for no reason, instruct debt collectors for imaginary arrears, then leave you in a Kafkaesque nightmare of Indian call centres promising to fix it, then either doing nothing or making things worse, then calling you a liar each time you call back again. Don't ask me how I know this...

        On the other hand EE use it as a marketing point that all calls are answered by call centres in the UK or Ireland, not that I have had to call them in many years.

        1. KillStuffMount

          Inclined to agree. Used to work in financial services, Three were responsible for more DD indemnities than the rest. Had it not been for Vodafone being about half as shite, Three would've been more than the others put together.

          None of them ever plumbed the depths that TalkTalk did of course, but then there are creatures that live in the deepest part of the Marianas Trench that talk fearfully of the crushing depths in which TalkTalk's customer service dwells.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          EE have a large call centre down here in Sunny Plymouth, fantastic Janner service ;o)

  3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Well, who'd have expected that?

    "The move to Capita was anticipated to see improvements in all these areas as Capita were 'contact centre experts' with the tech and experience to really innovate and move on. In reality it didn't"

    And did this source express any surprise at this outcome? There is a reason Crapita got their nickname.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, who'd have expected that?

      Some will no doubt be please to know that people around here type "Crapita" instead of "Capita" so often that my brain has, on occasion, started automatically inserting the "r" in the relevant location. Probably by next year I'll be hallucinating "Crrrrrrrrrapita".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, who'd have expected that?

        > Probably by next year I'll be hallucinating "Crrrrrrrrrapita".

        Their new tag line: "Crrrrrrrrrapita, they're grrrrrrrreat!"

      2. SIP My Drink

        Re: Well, who'd have expected that?

        Ive also started calling them - "Everybody's Favourite Outsourcing Badass" -

        Thanks Reg...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, who'd have expected that?

      It depends what level of source we're talking about. Doubtless a total surprise to management, but not to anyone involved in doing the work.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Capita discovers too late

    that the customer defines value.

    1. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Re: Capita discovers too late

      Capita won't care. The article suggests that it was 3 that terminated the legally-binding contract, not Capita. The penalty clauses in said contract will mean that 3 will effectively have to buy their way out if they want to leave the party early. It's happened before.

      Capita will be quids in either way.

      1. Dave K

        Re: Capita discovers too late

        All depends if there were any performance clauses in the contract that Three have been able to exploit. If there aren't then it was stupid of Three to agree to such a contract and they deserve to be stung for it. I guess we won't know unless either side admits this or an insider leaks something...

        1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

          Re: Capita discovers too late

          The KPI will be met. The expected service not in writing.. that did not happen of course, unless paid to do so.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Capita discovers too late

        Capita will be quids in either way

        Except that Crapita are truely getting a reputation for failure - even the organisation I work for won't touch them with someone elses bargepole..

  5. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    No more Three SIMS for me then

    If customer service, a mission-critical component, is outsourced to the lowest of the low bidders, then no thanks!

    1. Lee D

      Re: No more Three SIMS for me then

      The last three SIMs I've had are all from companies with no telephone customer services at all.

      That sounds terrible until you realise: a) you're not paying for things you rarely use, b) they have to provide the functionality for you to be able to do most things yourself, and if you get a month-to-month contract, c) you can leave quickly if they aren't doing what you need.

      I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to contact a company providing SIMs, and most of those are activation calls.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No more Three SIMS for me then

      Good luck finding a supplier that doesn't do that!

  6. RM Myers

    Three dispatched another statement, claiming:

    "The decision is driven by a desire to consolidate our operations with a single provider, not poor performance."

    Translation: Crapita agreed to go peacefully if we didn't tell the world how crap they were. Otherwise, they might sue us for breach of contract.

  7. Lee D

    Outsourcing = paying a middle-man more money to do the same job that you could do yourself.

    Middle-men don't work overtime.

    Middle-men don't care about anything not explicitly in their support contract.

    Middle-men still have to employ the same number of people, if not more, and pay their salary, pensions, etc. at the same market rates.

    Middle-men also add on profit for their shareholders to everything they do.

    Middle-men don't do ANYTHING that you couldn't do yourself.

    Middle-men don't really care if your stuff works or not, beyond getting you to sign next year's contract.

    Middle-men require you to agree terms and conditions and to extra costs for EVERY change or difference you want to make.

    I will never understand it.

    1. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Outsourcing can work if your only intention is to offload the burden of doing a task onto a 3rd party, not the expense.

      How often does that actually happen though?

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


        "Outsourcing can work if your only intention is to offload the burden of doing a task onto a 3rd party, "

        What outsourcing also does it allows you to fire your expensive internal staff and replace them with cheaper workers, hence the rush to 3rd world call centers, however if you are in high value work, the worst thing to do is outsourcing because all that expensive technical knowledge flows away from your company into the hands of the outsourcers.... who dont care .. and then the knowledge is lost

        Look at the history of railtrack when they outsourced all of british rails engineering expertise into the private sector..... then it turned out after the Hatfield and potter's bar crashes that railtrack manglement had no rail engineering experience to call on when making decisions such as 'how often should rails on high speed lines be ground?' and then made the call looking at the expense of replacing them instead of how long until the surface cracks would cause the rail to fail.....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Radically different context, but we do a certain amount of outsourcing and it works very well for all concerned.

        We don't outsource for cost reasons per se, we do that with non-core services that we are not willing to provide in-house but our clients demand. We have agreements with top-notch third parties who do the work, usually better than we could do it ourselves, with a small amount of assistance and QC from us, and we invoice the client with a small surcharge.

        This sort of arrangement is not unusual in B2B (which we are).

      3. Dave K

        Agreed. I work for a major sales and services company (not Crapita I might add), and outsourcing can work if you're doing it to tap into the expertise of a specialist company with the aim of improving your services and are willing to pay for that good service. However if you're doing it purely to drive down costs by a significant amount, the service will almost always suffer.

    2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

      Be glad you don't have what is going on here in the US.

      Big company, Disney, Home Depot, AT&T etc. wants to outsource all customer service.

      They contract with Aggregator company "X".

      Aggregator company "X" contracts with independent operators in cities all over the company (Former CS reps). Most of which are 1 person operations.

      Operator then places adds and posts signs for CS reps in their community for "work at home, make lots of money jobs!"

      Reps sign up as independent contractor and then have to pay lots of money for training, equipment and other required stuff out of their pocket.

      Reps are payed a meager rate per call that the operator and the Aggregator takes a cut from for the "privilege" of using their system to get their calls.

      Reps cannot say who they work for, EVER! Not to customers, not in personal conversations, not on social media without risking violating a strict non-disclosure agreement,

      Reps are expected to work "When they are told!" Schedules are very intermittent. Calls are monitored and if they don't perform "as expected" then they will not get favorable work times and their incomes will suffer.

      By the time you factor in the up front costs, the fees extracted by the operators and the Aggregator most Reps are making a paltry $4.00 to $6.00 per hour there is no guarantee they will work anywhere near 40 hours per week. Out of which they are required to pay income taxes and 14% Payroll tax (Social Security)

      And people wonder why customer service sucks!

  8. Blofeld's Cat

    Er ...

    "... innovate and move on ..."

    Is that the same thing as, "take the money and run" ?

  9. spireite Silver badge

    Nothing can save them.......

    Years ago, I had THREE (no pun) contracts for myself, wife and son, all through my name....

    Of course, I naturally assumed they might want to keep my business, since i was spaffing 100 quid a month to them,

    Imagine my surprise when they said they couldn't / wouldn't offer me a discount to stay.....

    Their coverage wasn't great, but was good enough.

    As each contract came to an end, one a month, you'd think they'd be a bit more helpful.

    Each time, I'd ask, and each time they said no.

    I was then contacted separately by another department to ask why i was cancelling my contracts.

    Of course all the departments to this point where Indian CC staff, my final call was a Scottish accent, but the damage was done.

    Wouldn't ever consider them again.

    1. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: Nothing can save them.......

      A very similar experience myself. Moved 2 Three accounts to Lebara. Whenever I've had to call Three it's been because it didn't deign to put the self-service I needed online/was hiding info.

      Now I'm getting a taste for monthly renewable deals, the lack of commitment is wonderful.

    2. Lee D

      Re: Nothing can save them.......

      This seems to be a modern disease in business.

      Car insurance companies who quote me literally TWICE what other companies are charging, when I've been with them for a few years. And then when you tell them that and that you're leaving, you get "Well, maybe we can knock £10 off". I wouldn't mind, but the ones I got quotes from were ALL underwritten by the exact same companies, and via the exact same self-service portals.

      But phone companies are the same - went from Three to SMARTY (who are.... Three!). Three couldn't do anything for me, they only wanted me to keep the Three SIM on some expensive contract "to give it to a friend"! Sorry mate, but I don't go giving away phone contracts that I'm paying for to my friends!

      I now get unlimited broadband (stated 1000GB/month limit before they "fair use" me), free calls, free texts, for two SIMs (one for home broadband, one for my phone), month-to-month contract on the EXACT SAME network as I had before, for less money than my previous single contracted SIM that had a data limit on it in the 40Gb range. They literally couldn't even sell me one of their own cheaper packages that were only available to new customers, but their own wholly-owned subsidiary could, I just had to bothered to do that. And the only reason I didn't go Vodafone was because they messed up sending me a SIM in the post and I needed the phone/broadband so couldn't afford to wait.

      It seems that modern companies view making YOU have to do their legwork, even if it means losing you as a customer, as somehow better than just retaining you but giving you a little bit of money off. I can't see how that works, long-term. Maybe for a one-off promotion or something, but long-term how can it be to your advantage to lose a paying customer? Surely £1 a month less than the prices you've given them for years is better than nothing at all and potentially your rivals getting money?

      Given the move to everything wanting to be a monthly subscription, you'd think they'd do the maths and be happier to keep you as a customer than lose you over a couple of quid?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nothing can save them.......

        "It seems that modern companies view making YOU have to do their legwork, even if it means losing you as a customer,"

        I think mobile and insurance companies (and banks?) have not really realised they are an exchangeable commodity. I mean, you can watch nearly everything on Sky with other subscriptions but it is a *serious* amount of legwork. Mobile phone provision, however, is a pretty homogenous service: Coverage and Terabytes (and minutes) divided by Cost and Commitment. A lot of big telcos don't realise this - you can even move to an MVNO using exactly the same infrastructure and pay less for the same coverage, and perhaps get more for the same money.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Millions of ones

    Let’s be honest here. The company has millions of customers and the call centre is manned 24/7. Presuming that only speaking to English customers. How many thousands of calls a day must they handle?. For me they are cheaper than the rest by far, my bills go down every time I renew (£18 a month on a 24 month contract here with International roaming, International calling, unlimited data, unlimited minutes and texts.) and I get 128mbps peak downloads. I’ve called them on only a very few occasions about very minor stuff and must admit their lies about coverage is my biggest Hangup but compared to the competition £42 a month for the next most similar contract, who would complain about that?. Staff at Three in India are respectful, have a genuine interest in my needs and I’ve only frequent letters telling me about small increases to my bill to moan about!! Since the other 4 can’t even get close to that level of service for the same money then sacrifices have to be made somewhere right?! I’ve tried VodaPhony and EE for contracts and they were dreadful. O2 were so bad my company ceased a massive contract for business mobile and went with VodaPhony probably regretting it days later.

    The psychological problem is having to press 1 to speak to a sales agent when you really want technical support which is normally 9 or something. Technically customers will make live decisions on the merry go round largely depending on how long they spent waiting for a rep. If Three put 1 for customer support and 9 for sales then you would find many more customers getting to a rep quickly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Millions of ones

      Nothing comes close to their pay-as-you-go tariff either.

    2. juice

      Re: Millions of ones

      > The psychological problem is having to press 1 to speak to a sales agent when you really want technical support which is normally 9 or something. Technically customers will make live decisions on the merry go round largely depending on how long they spent waiting for a rep. If Three put 1 for customer support and 9 for sales then you would find many more customers getting to a rep quickly.


      Sales are 100% revenue/profit generating.

      Support is a cost centre, at least in the eyes of people with a PHB mindset - aka something which customers should be actively deterred from using. After all, the long-term impact of alienating your customer base is both a long-term issue and isn't part of your division's KPI statistics...

      As such, the odds of a company putting a "costs us money" option ahead of an "earns us money" option in any prioritisation list is pretty low...

  11. Grease Monkey Silver badge


    Because all those call centres other ISPs have in India provide great service don't they?

    We all know they don't, but they do save money so it keeps the shareholders happy even if the customers are miserable.

  12. Robert Grant Silver badge

    Believe me, I'm not on Capita's side here, but

    > and Capita was unable to get the VPN and connection running to do it themselves."

    Yeah. This is pretty much guaranteed to be Three's internal IT.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like