Vodafone Rated As Worst Mobile Operator In Which? Survey

Vodafone is once again at the centre of unwelcome publicity after Which?’s annual mobile customer satisfaction survey rated it as the worst operator in the UK.

And to make matters worse for Vodafone, this is now the seventh year running that Vodafone has been at the bottom of its rankings.

It has been a bad period for the Newbury-based operator. Last week Vodafone topped Ofcom’s quarterly league tables for mobile operators on the complaints it receives.

Big four

The Which? survey of 3,683 members of the public generally found that customers of the UK’s big four mobile operators Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three, rated them from average to disappointing.

This is despite the fact that these ‘big four’ supply an overwhelming majority of the market

And furthermore the Which? survey found that smaller providers impressed customers on service and value for money.

“Which? has repeatedly seen the smaller networks that use EE, O2, Three and Vodafone’s infrastructure (mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs) beat the big four providers when it comes to customer satisfaction,” said the consumer group.

“Vodafone had the worst overall customer satisfaction score in our survey, with one in six customers telling Which? they would not recommend it to a friend or family member,” it said. “One in seven Vodafone customers said they had received an unexpectedly expensive or incorrect bill, and the network was also rated worst for customer service.”

EE was not much better, as it finished second from bottom.

Last year it shared the lowest ranking with Vodafone.

“One in seven of the EE customers surveyed pay over £50 a month for their contract, so we weren’t surprised the network received a low score for value for money,” said the consumer group. “Nearly one in five EE customers told us they find their monthly bill too expensive.”

O2 meanwhile outperformed Vodafone and EE, but was still a long way behind the most highly rated providers.

The biggest bugbear for O2 customers was receiving unwanted and annoying marketing communications, although half appreciated the incentives and rewards offered by O2, such as its free priority service.

Three was the highest ranked of the big four providers, and it scored well for value for money with 71 percent saying it was good or excellent.

But 30 percent of customers said they had experienced very poor signal, and a third of those who had left Three in the past two years to seek better network coverage from another provider.

However, 86 percent of customers would still recommend Three to a friend or family member.

Smaller players

Moving onto the smaller MVNOs, is seems that the best rated provider was Utility Warehouse, after it overtook rival Giffgaff for the first time.

“The biggest providers are lagging behind smaller rivals who are doing a better job of giving customers what they want in terms of service and value for money,” explained Alex Neill, Which? MD of Home Products and Services.

“Customers who are fed up should look to switch provider as soon as they can,” said Neill. “New reforms will soon mean that mobile customers will be able to switch provider by text message, which we hope will make it quicker and easier for customers to seek a better deal.”

How much do you know about UK mobile operators? Try our quiz!

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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