Cheap is cheerful for customer MVNO satisfaction

Cheap is cheerful for mobile customer satisfaction

For the second year running cheaper MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) topped Which? magazine’s survey of customer satisfaction ratings, with the top four operators again a shameful bottom of the table.

Giffgaff and Utility Warehouse were the winners for the second year running, swapping places for Telefonica’s wholly owned Giffgaff brand to take first. Followed closely behind were the likes of Plusnet Mobile, Tesco Mobile and Asda.

The survey sampled over 6,000 customers for their experiences with issues such as customer service, ease of contact, value for money and other additional incentives.

Vodafone came last with just a 51% customer satisfaction score. EE had just 55% while Virgin Mobile and O2 fared a little better coming in at 64% and 62% respectively. These scores compare badly when Giffgaff achieved 87% and Utility Warehouse an impressive 81% satisfaction ratings.

Both EE and Vodafone have been hit by Ofcom over billing issues in recent times. Vodafone was given a record £4.6 million fine in 2016 and since 2014 when Ofcom named it the UK’s most complained-about operator. In response Vodafone has brought more than 2,000 customer service jobs in-house and introduced a 30-day service guarantee. Likewise, EE has been busy ‘reshoring’ its services.

Vodafone’s changes mean that now their contract customers would probably find themselves talking to a UK service agent. However, pre-payers are still likely to talk to an offshore call centre. In contrast, GiffGaff doesn’t offer a customer service. With them you communicate through email.

Giffgaff’s rise to top spot is considered remarkable given their rocky start in life. Back in its early days, downtime was so common it generated memes asking, ‘when Giffgaff falls over, is it even news anymore?’

Despite those early-day problems Giffgaff has gone on to be considered a customer-friendly – little guy operator that offers value for money even though it is owned by the multinational giant Telefonica.

In the broadband market, again it was the smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Zen Internet, Utility Warehouse, Plusnet and the Post Office who were all ranked above the major players like Sky, Virgin Media and BT.

And its not just the cheapest operators winning out. Both Zen and Utility annual subscription charges came in 10-20% greater than the market average. But their customer satisfaction ratings came in 15% higher than the third placed Plusnet. Clearly indicating people are willing to spend more if they get a good service.

TalkTalk has had a torrid time recently after last year’s cyberattack. But since then TalkTalk has managed to claw back 3.2% of the market share it had lost over the last quarter. But TalkTalk lost 250,000 broadband customers in the wake of the attack and has some way to go to restore itself to former glories.


A veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.
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