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Tesco best network for contract and pre-pay, according to customer survey

JD Power's annual survey of UK mobile users suggests we're much happier customers and much more likely to be using smart phones.

Tesco Mobile is the top network for both pay as you go and pay monthly services, according to a survey of UK phone users by JD Power. The study also found the vast majority of contract customers now have smart phones.

The purveyors of fine customer satisfaction surveys asked over 3,400 UK mobile users to rate their experience of both their phone and the network provider they used. Both contract and pre-pay customers were significantly happier than they were last year, possibly because of the extra value provide by smart phones.

Six measures of quality were measured: call quality and coverage, offerings and promotions, service cost, billing/topping-up issues, customer service and the handset itself.

Tesco came out on top for a second year running. We weren't surprised to see it did particularly well on cost of service and promotions -- it's currently the only company offering a 12-month deal on the iPhone 4. It also scored well for offering a decent array of handsets. Of the more established names, O2 did well for both types of customer.

Unfortunately, Three seems to have let the side down again, scoring rather badly on overall satisfaction for all customers. That tallies with Three's complaint record as measured by Ofcom.

It seems smart phone users are happier with their phones, despite often having to pay more up front and each month, than those with standard handsets. Two out of five pre-pay users had a smart phone, up from 28 per cent last year, while a whopping 86 per cent of contract customers had them, compared to 58 per cent in 2010.

The survey also found that punters weren't calling customer services as much this year. Over half of contract users had contacted support in 2010, dropping to just two in five in 2011. Pre-pay service calls dropped from 22 per cent to 14 per cent.

Unfortunately it's hard to know why this is. It could be because there was a marked increase in users maintaining their accounts online, or because calling customer service lines is so painful. It's like saying a decline in visits to the dentist indicates improved oral hygiene.

Take a look at the pretty results tables for pre-pay and pay monthly. Do you agree, or was JD's sample a bunch of gibbering imbeciles?