Ofcom: Tesco Mobile best for customer complaints but Vodafone loses out

Ofcom: Tesco Mobile best for customer service but Vodafone loses out

Tesco Mobile has won approval for the way it handles customer complaints while rival Vodafone bottomed out in a new study released by Ofcom.

The report, using never-before-seen data direct from mobile providers, highlights striking flaws in performance and customer care.

Tesco Mobile gained plaudits as just three out of every 100,000 subscribers registered a complaint.

It’s a major boost for the supermarket, which only joined the mobile market in 2003 in a tie-up with the O2 network.

This morning’s report is a welcome testament to all of our hardworking Tesco Mobile colleagues, who continue to do everything they can to provide the best service to our customers.

It’s great to see Ofcom creating more transparency for industry benchmarks for service.

We feel that this report will further help the industry improve levels of customer satisfaction with the services they are offered; something that’s even more important, as mobile connectivity becomes more and more essential for families across the UK.

- Anthony Vollmer: Chief Executive Officer, Tesco Mobile

At the other end of the scale, Vodafone totalled a shockingly high 92 complaints per 100,000.

Less than half of customers complaining to Vodafone about their service were satisfied with the way it was handled.

By contrast, 74 per cent of Tesco Mobile customers who put in a complaint were happy with the process.

Tesco Mobile tops customer complaint study while Vodafone loses out

EE, O2 and Three, who control the majority of the mobile phone market, saw markedly similar results in terms of the way they deal with customer complaints.

Around six in ten people who have contracts with each provider were happy with the complaints handling service.

Hanging on the telephone

EE were second-best on the list for the amount of time they kept customers waiting before picking up, just 35 seconds each time, while O2 fell sharply with waiting times of over two minutes. Again, Tesco Mobile topped the table with a 30-second wait.

Three and Vodafone each performed worse than the industry average, keeping people waiting over a minute.

The result suggest the supermarket brand have a good handle on how to deal with complaints, but the more established providers like Vodafone and Three still have a long way to go to satisfy their customers.

SimOnlyDeals.co.uk approached Vodafone for comment in the wake of such disappointing customer care numbers.

Customers have told us they want us and the rest of the industry to change.

They want life to be simpler and for us to remove the things which make life stressful so they can live their lives, uninterrupted by these concerns.

Our new programme will do that over the next few years and will prove our commitment to letting our customers talk, text or stream for a great price, wherever in the world they may be.

- Nick Jeffrey: Chief Executive, Vodafone
  • EE 15GB 30 Day
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    • Roaming CostsEU Data Roaming Included

Reception – who’s got the best?

Tesco Mobile came first again with 91 per cent – beating out EE, Virgin and even O2, whose network Tesco uses.

According to the report, Three has the worst reputation for UK mobile phone reception, with only 80 percent of customers satisfied with the bars they can get.

Ofcom statistics suggest more than one in 12 mobile customers are dissatisfied with their mobile reception, increasing to one in five in rural areas.

Sharon White, the head of Ofcom, delivered a stinging rebuke to mobile providers in a speech delivered at Which? in London.

[T]elecoms dominate the list of worst-rated companies for customer service – behind even banks.

While people tend to shop around on price...they do not tend to make choices based on customer service; which means operators can get away with poor service.

And millions of consumers, particularly vulnerable and elderly people, don’t shop around at all.

"This has created a widening gulf between consumer expectations and what the industry is actually delivering.

"And when people turn to their provider for support or to complain, some operators keep their customers waiting on the phone for four, five or even seven minutes before their call is answered.

"That’s a lot of Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ to listen to!"

- Sharon White: Chief Executive, Ofcom

Ms White promised that Ofcom would compile and release this data every year to keep the pressure on mobile providers to improve their service.

“Call centres are being returned to the UK. More emphasis is being given to ‘getting it right first time’. But it is not yet leading to a step change in industry performance,” she said.

“[W]here competition isn’t enough, we have a duty to step in.

“We will empower consumers with better information, protect those who are failed by the market, and take action against companies who fail their customers.”

She concluded: “Ultimately, what we want to see is cultural change in the telecoms industry.”


Tom is a tech journalist and Editor at SimOnlyDeals.co.uk.
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