Why the UK's favourite mobile provider isn't the one you'd expect

The UK’s favourite mobile provider isn’t the one you’d expect

You may not have heard of the Institute of Customer Service, but they are the unofficial auditors of how British companies deal with their clients.

Twice a year, this independent professional customer service body publishes a guide revealing which brands go the extra mile to help their customers.

Their most recent survey was published at the end of January, listing the UK’s top 50 organisations for customer service.

The top five won’t surprise anyone, with brands like First Direct, John Lewis and Marks and Spencer leading the way with near-impeccable service and a customer-first attitude.

It’s perhaps more surprising to see a mobile phone network at number six, ahead of the likes of Costa Coffee, Specsavers and MINI.

Even more surprising than that, this was the only mobile network to make the top 50.

And most surprisingly of all, the UK’s favourite mobile provider is Tesco Mobile – a peripheral service from a company far better known for groceries than GSM.

Every little helps

Tesco started offering mobile phone contracts almost 20 years ago, yet it’s never achieved the kind of consumer awareness enjoyed by the big four mobile networks.

These are the only companies with their own infrastructure of cell towers and masts.

Allowing smaller mobile networks to piggyback on the masts and cell towers of the big four networks (in exchange for usage fees) has brought extra competition to the UK mobile sector.

It’s also allowed companies who specialise in other industries to offer SIM-only deals or handsets, including Asda, Plusnet, Sky, Virgin and Giffgaff.

Tesco’s popularity is understandable when you consider this is a brand with deep pockets and huge customer support, which knows a great deal about meeting customer expectations.

And it’s not as if the ICS survey is a fluke, or a one-off.

Other companies have also acknowledged Tesco Mobile’s claim to be the UK’s favourite mobile provider, with a focus on impressive customer service and affordable pricing.

Tesco Mobile has been a Which? Recommended Provider for ten years in a row.

Over the last six years, Ofcom have received fewer complaints from Tesco Mobile customers than any other network.

And on independent review site Reevoo, 98 per cent of existing customers say they’d buy handsets or data contracts from Tesco again.

5 alive?

Tesco Mobile uses the same network as O2, as do Sky and LycaMobile.

That means Tesco can only offer connectivity in areas where O2 has infrastructure in place.

This is affecting the brand’s 5G rollout – available in over 160 towns and cities, but still absent from the vast majority of the UK.

Tesco has cloned O2’s coverage map, which prevents users distinguishing between 3G, 4G or 5G coverage. The map simply shows where you can get a mobile phone signal.

That’s a major omission, though perhaps not accidental considering how patchy 5G coverage presently is.

Even so, Tesco Mobile offers affordable deals, with SIM-only packages available right here on our site for less than £10 per month over a 12-month or 18-month contract.

The brand receives 95 per cent positive customer service reviews on Reevoo; connection problems are rare; and Clubcard holders receive points for every £1 they pay towards their bill.

Tesco also promise not to increase prices midway through a contract, so those low headline rates will continue for the duration of any introductory period.

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