Tuesday 23 April 2019 10:00 am

Which consumer survey reveals UK's worst mobile network providers

Vodafone has been ranked the UK’s worst mobile operator as big-name providers continue to lag behind their smaller rivals.

Vodafone was rated the worst network, while O2 and EE completed the bottom three, according to the latest survey from consumer group Which.

Read more: Vodafone broadband advert banned by watchdog for misleading consumers

Virtual network operator Giffgaff topped the poll, maintaining its recent run of good results in the survey, while Utility Warehouse and Plusnet Mobile also scored highly.

The survey was based on a range of factors, including customer service and value for money.

The lacklustre rating of customer service at big providers came despite the fact they often cost more than smaller networks, according to Which.

“The continuing reign of smaller networks over the big players goes to show exactly how important customer support and value for money are to mobile users,” said Natalie Hitchins, Which head of home products and services.

RankingNetwork providerMonthly cost of sim-onlyCost of two-year iPhone XS contract
1Giffgaff£5 (500MB, one-month contract)£53.36
2Utility Warehouse£10 (1GB, one-month contract)£52
3Plusnet Mobile£10 (2GB, one-month contract)N/A
4Tesco Mobile£7.50 (1GB, 12-month contract)£56.63
5Asda Mobile£5 (250MB, 30-day contract)N/A
6Sky Mobile£6 (1GB, 12-month contract)£41
7ID Mobile£3.99 (500MB, one-month contract)£48.41
8Three£9 (1GB, 12-month contract)£55.42
9BT Mobile£13 (500MB, 12-month contract)£66.79
10Virgin Mobile£7 (1GB, 12-month contract)£57
11O2£10 (1GB, 12-month contract)£69.75
12EE£14 (1GB, 12-month contract)£68
13Vodafone£11 (500MB, 12-month contract)£62

Vodafone received a string of one-star ratings for customer service, with one in five customers saying complaint and query handling was poor. Meanwhile, one in seven customers criticised the quality of technical support and one in five said the network was poor value for money.

A spokesperson for Vodafone said: “We are determined to provide our customers with the best possible mobile service.

“We continue to invest in our network, our customer service and our products and last month saw our consumer satisfaction score reach its highest ever level.”

Only a quarter of EE customers said they had received good or excellent technical support, while O2’s customers were unhappy with value for money.

A spokesperson for EE said: “We’re ranked top by Opensignal for mobile experience in the UK which is supported by other independent reports from Ofcom and Root Metrics.

“Ofcom’s latest figures also show that EE receives among the fewest complaints in the mobile industry, as we’ve continued to invest in the UK’s best customer service.”

“We continually review the offers and experiences available to customers via Priority to ensure we offer great deals that our customers can benefit from,” an O2 spokesperson said.

“We also offer the ability for customers to customise their device contract to suit their individual needs with custom plans, providing flexibility and transparency, meaning that customers will never pay for a device they already own. We will continue to do everything we can to drive the highest levels of satisfaction and loyalty.”

Read more: O2 down: Customers unable to make calls as mobile network crashes

“Customers that are not satisfied with the price or service should check their contract and consider switching,” said Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie. 

“Those that need or want a handset upgrade should consider purchasing the phone separately and pair it with a sim-only deal. It will mean taking a bit of a hit in the short term, but will give you more flexibility to find a deal that meets your needs and allow you to easily swap networks in the future.”