3 rated worst network operator for customer service

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3 has been rated the worst mobile network operator for customer service in Which?’s survey of the UK’s top 75 service providers.

The operator was given just 2/5 for its ability to communicate effectively to customers, 2/5 at making the customer feel valued and 2/5 for its ability to deal with customer problems.

The findings come from Which?’s new customer satisfaction survey – featured in the latest issue – which queried 10,603 members during September 2010, asking them what they thought about the quality of customer service offered by the UK’s top 75 service providers, across all industries.

The UK’s five mobile network operators, as a whole, ranked pretty miserably.

Mobile phone networks – customer service rank

  • 3: 69/75
  • Orange: 62/75
  • T-Mobile: 59/75
  • Vodafone: 57/75
  • O2 customer service rank: 24/75
O2 customer service

Out of the five network operators, O2 ranked highest for customer satisfaction.

Only O2 managed to get into the top half of the table, scoring relatively well on its product knowledge (4/5), and average on its ability to deal with customer problems (3/5).

Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone all ranked pretty similar, scoring 2/5 for communication skills, 2/5 for dealing with customer problems and 2/5 for making the customer feel valued.

Outside of MNOs, internet bank First Direct was the number-one-ranked brand for customer service. AOL Broadband came at the very bottom.

In April we carried out a customer survey of all the UK’s major operators, which included ratings on coverage, customer service and cost. So if you’re looking to switch to a new mobile phone deal make sure you check it out.

Categories: Phone networks

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168 replies

  1. Got miss-informed and tricked to sign a contract which starts the day I signed it but cannot use my allowance for the next 15 days and I cannot cancel it only a few hours later. During the phone call to the customer services when they put me on hold, I found the time to go shopping for lunch. won’t recommend 3 to anyone !!!

    1. This happened to me too. I’ve been missold a phone and taken out a contract which has doubled in price since it started. Can’t get out if it. Shockingly bad customer care and wouldn’t touch three with a 40ft barge pole. Disgraceful!!!!!

  2. Sent off my Phone for repair nearly a month ago… no loan phone and still no resolution. Each time I call customer services I get someone trying to pull the wool over my eyes and at one point blatantly lying. Seriously shocking service and I spend nearly £200 a month com communications. You’d expect a different attitude from your operator!

  3. Please please stay away from three. They are con artists and their customer service is appalling. They told me I had won a handset in a draw. They did not however tell me that in accepting this prize I was signing up to a new contract. I did not realise I had this contract and was not using the handset as I didn’t like it. I then had considerable health concerns so was not checking my bank statements as rigorously date wise as I should. When I rang up they made out I was the one who was being stupid would not return any money and would not provided me with any evidence that they had looked in to it at all. I have completely screwed out of several hundred pounds. With no way of getting it back.

  4. Three is a nightmare to deal with. If you want to cancel a contract, which I have done on behalf of myself and my partner recently, it takes an average of 33 minutes. They have a system deliberately designed to make it difficult. You have to wait for ages and then you get someone trying to convince you to stay, then you have to wait ages again and then you get another person trying to convince you to stay. All of the customer service people are hard nosed and even aggressive in their approach. I have just had to make another call to them because they didn’t, after all, cancel one of the numbers. Extermely aggressive chap, very upsetting!!

  5. I went with the one plan at £25 a month rolling. Was surprised to see it was now £18 for the same deal (30 days rolling), shame they didnt tell me! Rang to get myself moved – was impossible – they could not help me at all, such hard work communicating. Popped into the local store and was sorted in minutes. So from my limited experience do not use the phone customer service, use the store. Also, seems to me they are quite cheap for tariffs – so maybe they cut back on phone service. Can’t have it all ways!

  6. Nothing but problems with this network across the board
    From contracts to customer service staff that do not understand you and you do not understand them take out 24 month contract and think when it come to its end they will stop taking money not a chance apparently I was told I would have to cancel the contract a week before it ends its a 24 month rolling contract all they want is your money .

  7. Vodafone have appalling customer service, I have had 10 conversations with various people to try to get them to send my upgrade to the correct address they keep telling me they have done it then I find out they have not. Never change to vodafone you will regret it I have had sooo many problems!!!

  8. I have never experienced worse customer service than with Three UK. I paid for internet, and they couldn’t help me get it working. They kept telling me they’d send me the details I needed via text, and they’d never come through. I spoke with over 5 different people and all of them were unhelpful and borderline rude. Now I asked for a refund, and they said they can’t do a refund, but they’d be happy to issue a credit to my account. They said their system can’t process refunds (which is clearly a lie). I am just so frustrated – and am out the money I paid for a month, which is very frustrating since I didn’t even use the service! Switching cell services for sure.

  9. Rude and pressuring! After going through the automated system 5 times having repeatedly being taken to the wrong area I got through to a nice Asian call centre. But THEN, I was put through to one in Scotland. Help! He would not let me leave until I started another contract with them immediately for my iPad! When I said I’ll think about it he asked why? getting ruder and more pushy with each attempt. He then wouldn’t let me leave even when after 10 minutes I was about to be late for work! I just gave up in the end having had to talk to him like a parent with a stroppy kid teaching him some manners.

    Incase you got bored reading that, three are awful!!

  10. I have been with 3 for about 8 years and on the whole customer service has been OK. If I get through to someone unhelpful or who can’t speak clear English I just politely hang up. The next operator will probably be good…
    Also their international roaming is Fantastic. Just had 3 weeks in Sri Lanka, being able to use my phone as if in Uk was amazingly liberating….I would put up with a lot of poor customer service for a benefit such as this!

    1. When i dont go abroad crap customer service is crap customer service no matter how much they distract you with the puppet on their otherhand.

  11. been trying to cancel my 3 account for a week now managed to get to the 3 retention by another route as the direct way either hung up or looped it self canclelled my roaming contract told them i have cancelled direct debit then was informed that i would have to pay an extra 5 pound and they will damage my credit rating! wtf almost harassing and bullying me i just wanted to my monthly rolling contract but it takes two months to end again i was lied to when i switch just a disgusting company do not use!!!

  12. ive been trying to change my isp setting with three for over 1 year and still they cant help me do that I would like to say that three.co.uk is a fucking load of crap and a waste of time .

  13. I have been with 3 network for nearly 8 years and
    Have multiple contract and yes I’ve had problems but
    They were quick to solve and I am happy with their overall services.

  14. I have been with Three for 2 years and have counted every day to leave it!

    I think it’s not possible to find more stupid operators – maybe they launch a special IQ test for them?

    coverage is very bad, and reception is below any expectations.

    It took me 15 min to get PCUK code today! 15 mins!!

    After I told I want to leave three mobile, they asked me if I want to install password to my account. Do they have any brain?

  15. I am with 3 Ireland and also find the customer service dreadful. Whenever I contact them with a query they are offhand, unfriendly and leave me feeling frustrated. By the sound of it, we are getting through to the same call centres as Uk users. Unfortunately they seem to have the best price plan in Ireland.

  16. For all u people wanting to cancel contracts but are finding it tiresome then there is a way around it. The rep u speak to will not transfer the call to a supervisor when asked to. So deliberately say that the contract term that u were promised is different from what it says on the system. They have to put u through to a manager. Also nowadays they are offering £50 credit for any out of bundle usage. So if u see anything extra in the bill just call them and fuck their happiness. I got my 50. Wat are u ppl waiting for. Also there is a so called complaints management team where all the people are managers. At least they say so. Just tell them u will be taking this to the ombudsman and they will take u seriously.

  17. I was on contract with 3 all of a sidden monthly paymdnts went up by £3 pm i asked thdm why they said they were alliwed to do in line with inflation. I told them just because they were allowed to doesnt mean they had to. Then got several spam txts which cost me £3 per time to recieve. Three told me to txt stop to the txters so i did but lost around £18 three didnt give a toss. Network appalling- i went to a wedding reception was only one there apart from 1 person who couldnt get any reception on fone- guess what both on three!!!
    Phoned 3 the day after they said routine maintenance in the area- same excuse every time! In the end took 3 long winded phonecalls to non english speaking callcentre and listening to them trying to sell me more rubbish before i threatened to call ombudsmen and eventually cancelled contract!
    You can listen to what i have experienced or ignore it and make the mistake with 3 yourself if you dont believe me, its up to you. They are cheap for a reason

  18. Been with 3 for over a year nearly two years and their customer services is rubbish and crap to say the least. I paid a part payment towards my phone bill and asked if I could pay the remainder a few days after my bill due date..the operative and serivce manager were totally un helpful and rude and did not give a damn that I had made payment toward the phone bill. Bullshit network

  19. I have used Three for almost 6 years.
    I use to have some problems. And recently
    I changed my network in order not to have problem.
    I joined vodaphone. I regret joining them.
    Its been 1 month and 2 weeks. I never had a
    Good service i am calling them every day. No
    One is even trying to understand my problem.
    I spoke with 9 different people during one phone call
    Which lasts for 2 hours and in the end they put
    The phone down and no one contacted me again.
    I would never recommend vodaphone to any one
    On the whole universe.
    I regret my decision of leaving three and joining vodaphone.

  20. I took out a 24mo contract with 3 for £23/mo but they then billed me £39/mo. after fruitless conversations with their Indian call centre I sent the paperwork by post to their Glasgow Customer Services Centre & then got a voicemail to phone them on 333. I took me back to the call centre who had no record of my letter & asked me to scan & email all the paperwork. At this point U gave up – I am caNCELLING THE CONTRACT & recommend that you don’t go near 3. Their call centre is infuriating & they tried to rip me off so they’ll never get any more money from me.

  21. An hour and ten minutes to upgrade one contract and cancel a second – and this was the second attempt. Aggressive sales pitches, long waits and disconnections. Horrible experience – truly awful customer service.

  22. No good customer service. Not good deals for exciting customer. They done understand nothing. Waste of time.
    Pay more n stay with UK call centres.
    Hate 3 network.

  23. I agree…three are the worst network in the world. I have literally just cancelled them Wohoooo. My contract is due to expire on 14th August, but even though I cancelled it today, I will still get a final bill in September and have a flipping 30 day waiting period. Even when you’ve finished a contract and paid up they still find a way of screwing you into paying more. I hate them….HATE THEM….They’re call centre is in India and they are all incompetent fools that struggle to understand anything you say. PLEASE Never go with three and just be warned about there sneaky money grabbing tactics.

  24. I’ve never even had a 3 phone or contract, discovered that they had been taking money from my bank account for a contract phone….for over a year!!!! There was nothing on my statements to indicate it was them taking payments, only after investigating all my outgoings that it was discovered.
    They have since cancelled the contract and stopped taking payments…however, the £500+ that they said they would repay into my account has not materialized over a month later. Several calls down the line, and several managers later, i still have no refund.
    I’m currently sitting at my desk waiting for there ‘busy advisers’ to answer my call as soon as possible….19mins 32sec’s and still waiting!!!!….

    I haven’t and definitely never will enter a contract agreement with these ‘people’…pity anyone that does!

    25mins and 30sec’s and still waiting…..

  25. The mobile phone was delivered but I had cancelled the contract. They failed to send me the return envelope and after several calls to and from the call centre in India with very abusive call handlers, eventually they sent me a bag and agreed that there was nothing outstanding on the account as the contract had been cancelled within the statutory timescale and that the mobile had not been used. 3 continue to admit this yet still instruct to collect and still demand monies which are not due. Over 20 calls have been made and received and I was aggressively questioned why I changed my mind and was I “ok”

    this continues to affect me mentally and emotionally, not to mention my credit status, I have no other choice but to take time off work to formally commence legal proceeding in breach of the Consumers Act and for continuing to attempt to take monies unlawfully.

    I cannot speak with the customer services at 3 as it is never a UK call centre and the Indian operators are always very aggressive. As half-India I really do not care if that seems racist. I was assured by them this was sorted. The company is now represented to me as money-hungry, inept, rude, aggressive, liars and I delight in seeing them in court and whilst I am sure they will not send their Head of Function, I will make life continually difficult for them until someone in the UK can actually be honest and own up and admit that their people have said, no payments are due, that it was cancelled in the time limit and can explain why, until I told them I as going to the Ombudsman and to court, that their records were not entirely up to date, even through I have retained dates of he calls which they said did not happen.

    It’s a farce and causing me great discomfort and anger! PLEASE DO NOT USE THEM!!!!

  26. customer service are unable to understand UK accents hours on the phone trying to talk to them they offer a very poor bad service stay away from them if you can trust me

  27. Vodafone for a big name it’s the worst out there, they speak very good English but very ignorant no value to their customers and very bad customer service the only good thing I must say is their coverage, it’s like having the best looking partner that doesn’t respect you.

  28. 17 month into my 24 month contract with 3.On a Galaxy ace. The last 8-9 months have been shite. I have had to take my vintage nokia on O2 out with me because 3 network coverage is always down. Forever switching 3 phone off, on,off, on. Still no coverage. All photos and videos with family and mates for my obituary, at my soon to come funeral have disappeared. I asked in the 3 shop, what is the problem with it and was told to send it away to Samsung for repair. They loaned me a bog standard loan phone (£30 refundable) and you have guessed,
    ,on and off network coverage,depending on what area you walked to in Blackpool. So Nokia vintage O2 out again, until Galaxy ace returned 8 days later. With the same problem,went 3 shop again,was told nothing wrong with their 3 network coverage,must be the phone. I asked for an upgrade, Not possible unless i bought out the rest of the contract ! I said i will cancel the direct debit, and was told i will be blacklisted and have a bad credit rating ,plus a cancellation fee. Not that i,me bothered i,me dieing anyway. I have discussed this with a few people in this area,with names and addresses , and been informed about many other disgruntled 3 network contract users have complained to 3 customer service on 333, and have been refunded with months of direct debit payments,and bonus,s ! I will ring 333 next, not that refunds or 3 bonus,s (would make for being lied to that there is nothing wrong the 3 network coverage in my area) Plus numerous embarrassing things like, eg asking a stranger, could i please use your phone, to ring a taxi. Doctor,nurses,family,friends etc cant get through your number. People worry, not helped by the channel 4 documentary 999 What”s Your Emergency Blackpool. I will let you know what happens after i have spoken to customer services. I went into a contract for a service which i have not received, Trades description act ,consumer rights,etc, ring a bell. (pun). Make a comment if you like. Looking forward to hearing them. Davey Blackpool.nrth.

  29. 3, Dreadfull !! the coverage in our area in west Wales used to be really good but now awful. I have now been on hold for 37 minutes to technical support.

  30. Consistently poor internet connection despite living literally yards away from their local mast. Internet was out of service for 3 days last month; was only told this by staff in the local 3 store, no apology just “we hope to have it running again in the next few days”. My money would have been better spent on a pile of horse manure – considerably cheaper and much more useful than a subscription to 3’s so called internet “service”, which is more of a lottery than anything else!

  31. Terrible service! Upgraded to iPhone 6 plus on Friday and no service from then, called up customer service and they have no idea one person said assuring me ready by tomorrow. Called again 5mins ago, they said should be ready in 24hrs AGAIN!! In truth they don’t know what’s going on and how long it will take!! I rely on my phone for business, I loosing out because of them. I will never upgrade or recommend three mobile ever again after this!! Terrible atroshous service!!

  32. Vodafone repairs service is a joke! Do not believe a word they say about how long it will take to make repairs or that you will be even be able to track the repair. When you eventually get through to somebody (yes they will put you on hold numerous times, yes they will pass you from one person to the next and yes the call will last over 20 minutes), they will tell you that the tracking website is not functioning.
    You will then be told to email the repair department, who will not respond, well maybe not for several days…..I’m still waiting, nearing the fourth day now (16th day without device), have almost forgotton about mobile phones……. So writing a letter could still be quicker than email then ;)

    When you ring to complain, do not expect apologies or anything to do with assistance; you will be told in a rude manner that the ONLY way to find out about your device and it’s repair is by the email address you were given.
    Pardon me for thinking this, but when I get told to **d off it’s usually because I deserve it; not because I’m a paying customer left without any service I contracted to.

    I guess I will soon have to call the insurance company to advise them that my device has been lost, after which I will have to call the Police to report it lost or stolen (last heard of at Vodafone repair centre).

    Shocking customer relations from Vodafone 0/10 marks.

  33. I don’t understand phone contracts any more….. I purchased a Sony Xperia Z1 from the carphone warehouse (on three network)…. I have used it for a couple of months, but it keeps freezing and not working….. Phoned 3, was told to send it to Sony for repair…… This has happened a couple of time now, and it’s still the same…… I don’t want to send it for repair again….. I’m fed up of this useless phone…… Am i able to cancel my contract lawfully, due to the goods not working as described at the point of sale, and not being able to use the service i’m paying for….. I’m 8 months into a 24m contract.

    Very disappointed with 3…… They don’t seem to care at all.

  34. wow , after over 23 days i feel completley deflated , even had me in tears at one point !!!!!!! DONT GO WITH THREE

    after completing my order on the 1st october , i received ( 2 days later ) the wrong sized sim card .

    When i phoned to tell them i was informed tyo cut my nano sim with scissors into a micro sim ( or the other way around i dont know about sims)
    i inserted it into my phone it got stuck, after prying it out my phone was damaged and three are saying its my fault YES THROUGH YOUR ADVICE

    THREE SUCKS but iv been informed it is the best out of a bad bunch PLEASE SOMEONE SHOW ME A “GOOD BUNCH “

  35. The worst network I have been with is EE/Orange. I was ripped off on my last contract when I took out a £5 a month contract for a dongle that didnt work. When I called customer services informing them I intended to cancel the contract (thinking I was still in my 14 days) I was told a ‘note’ would be put on the account and I had until the Friday to return it. I went to the Orange shop in Birmingham’s Bull Ring and was so angry to find that the 14 days had ran out, so basically I had been conned. The guy in the shop was powerless to do anything so I was stuck. I contacted about 4 different teams, none of whom would help me so I threatened not to pay any bills, ‘thats ok’ a lady said calmly, we’ll just cut your phone off’! Eventually, I contacted the CEO of Orange and was contacted by one of his gofers, apologising and telling me they would send me a pre paid envelope to return the dongle to them which I did. I have also spent over £200 in handsets, all of which failed in less than 6 months but the shop and telephone staff couldnt care less, once they have you in a contract, youre stuck. Im with vodafone now but changing to someone like giffgaff when the contract runs out cuz theyre not the best but better than Orange. Orange are shit!

  36. To THREE,

    I emailed 3 the below on 17 October but I have not received an acknowledgement.

    For more than a year, I have been hounded and harassed by C.A.R.S. and now I am being chased by Moorcroft Dept. Recovery Limited to recover £30.45 from me for ‘outstanding bill’ related to mobile number 07445835153.

    My dispute with THREE all along has been about the ‘outstanding £16.99/£30.45 bill’, which it says I owe following the £10 a month contract I took out for 12 months for my niece from April 2012 to March 2013. At the end of the 12-month contract, I would have expected THREE to contact me to ask whether I would like to renew the contract and also be given an opportunity to upgrade the device. THREE never contacted me. Despite this oversight by THREE, my niece continued to use the sim card but she was running up high bills so I had to take the phone and sim card from her. THREE will have noted that there were no calls made from the above number for almost three months in October 2013 and yet THREE continued to take out £16.99 from my account for the three months of non activity.

    I went to a THREE store to cancel the direct debit and I found out then that the £16.99 payment a month included £6.99 for using a black berry and subscription to a magazine. THREE continued to take £16.99 from my account and as I did not understand why this was happening, I then decided to cancel the direct debit via my bank. I also asked THREE customer services to cancel the service.

    Following the cancellation of the direct debit, I continued to be chased with calls from THREE customer service telling me that I owed £16.99. I could not understand this when I had been to a THREE store to ‘cancel’ the ‘contract’ and asked THREE customer service to cancel the service.

    There were further calls between THREE customer service and me to resolve the ‘outstanding’ bill but each time I had to repeat the issue and it was obvious that Three customer service staff were not keeping a record of our conversations. I was not getting anywhere, which was getting very frustrating with each call.

    THREE customer service continued to call me several times, sometimes tree or four times a day, chasing me for payment. During one of the calls, I was told the ‘outstanding amount’ was £30.45 – I did not understand and asked for an explanation but the THREE customer service did not give me any reason for the additional charge. Overall, I found THREE customer service staff extremely poor and unsatisfactory.

    Despite my attempts to resolve the issue, THREE has not made any serious attempt to resolve the issue themselves. THREE’s only intention has been to get money from me. The only time I got a written correspondence from THREE regarding the issue was to inform me that the matter had been referred to C.A.R.S, who also constantly called me to demand payment from me, at first for £16.99, then some weeks later for £30.45.

    As far as I am concerned I have not breached any agreement with THREE as I did not renew the contract, and therefore I had the right to ‘end’ the service at any time. It is THREE that has broken the rules by (1) not asking me if I wanted to renew the contract and (2) by taking money from my account without my permission for the three months in the full knowledge that no calls had been made from the mobile number 07445835153. In fact it is THREE that owes me £169.90 for the 10 months from April 2013 to January 2014 when it continued to take £16.99 each month from my account even though I had not renewed the contract.

    As for THREE customer service, it is very poor and I had no confidence in the poor manner in which the staff dealt with the matter in 99.5% of the conversations I had with staff. The only THREE customer service staff who seemed to understand my issue was someone called Aditi’ and I thought her involvement would help resolve the matter but I never heard from her again.

    The most disappointing thing of all is that THREE (a well known International Company) has not given the appropriate attention to me, its customer, in dealing with this matter and has done nothing to resolve this issue but has instead has been relentless in pursuing and pressurising me for £30.45.

    It was my brother who persuaded me and six relatives, to sign up with THREE and I have to say that THREE services has been very disappointing especially with it’s customer service.

    I will be seeking advice on this matter if it is not resolved very soon.

    I hope to get a response from THREE very soon.


  37. just tried too cancel my three dongle they want this months bill next months bill they say i will get my final bill in DECEMBER.stay away from three i haven’t even used the dongle since the middle of september dont go near them.!!!

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