The three biggest mobile operators are failing to offer their customers a satisfactory level of service, despite often costing more than smaller rivals, according to the annual mobile-customer satisfaction survey from Which?

Vodafone, EE and O2 all finished in the bottom three, while virtual network operator Giffgaff topped the poll to maintain its impressive recent performance.

In February 2019, 6,135 Which? members were asked to rate their mobile network provider on a range of factors including customer service and value for money.

They were also asked how satisfied they were and whether they’d recommend their provider to friends and family.

Vodafone was rated the worst network in the country after mustering one-star ratings for customer service, value for money and technical support.

One in five Vodafone customers told Which? that customer service, including complaints handling and the way their queries were dealt with, was poor.

Meanwhile, one in seven customers rated the quality of technical support as poor, and one in five rated Vodafone as being poor for value for money. A quarter also criticised the incentives and rewards offered by the network.

EE, the UK’s largest mobile network, also ranked among the worst providers in the country, according to its customers.

Only a quarter of EE customers told Which? they had received good or excellent service for technical support (27%), and less than half said the same about ease of contact and customer service.

O2 customers were also unhappy with the value for money they were getting, with one in ten rating it as poor.

They were underwhelmed by O2’s incentives and rewards, with only a quarter rating its offering as either good or excellent, compared with half of virtual-network partner Sky Mobile’s customers.

Which 

Of the 13 networks included in the survey, it was mostly smaller virtual networks that customers rated more highly.

Giffgaff was rated the best network in the survey, with Utility Warehouse and Plusnet Mobile taking second and third place. Nearly all Giffgaff customers said it’s good or excellent when it comes to value for money, and that they’d recommend the network to friends and family.

“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, head of home products and services at Which?

“If you think you’re paying too much or are not getting the level of service you expect from your provider, you should shop around for a better deal – you might find you save yourself some money and probably a lot of grief, too.”

Which

Which? analysed the average monthly costs of both Sim-only and contract deals for the iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy S10, and found that the ‘Big Four’ – EE, O2, Vodafone and Three, were often more expensive than their smaller virtual-network partners.

Sim-only deals were on average 31% (£3.56 a month) more expensive with one of the Big Four providers than with one of the smaller virtual networks.

The same could be said for the combined average monthly contract price for an iPhone XS, which was 18% more (£10.11) with Vodafone, O2, EE and Three.

When Which? looked at the average monthly contract cost for a Samsung Galaxy S10 across the 13 networks, there was less of a difference, but the Big Four were, on average, still 6% more expensive (£3.22 a month).