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Three cops spanking in mobile user ranking

O2 scores in Which?-u-like ethereal pollage

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O2 rates more than twice as high as Three in customer service, according to readers of Which? Magazine, who rated the country's smallest operator as worst of a piss-poor bunch.

The survey asked more than 10,000 Which? readers to rate 75 companies providing ethereal services, and found that First Direct Bank was the most popular, while AOL Broadband provided the worst customer experience. But among mobile network operators, O2 was streets ahead of the rest, and Three* the worst of the worst.

First Direct has the advantage of only having rich customers**, while those working at AOL Broadband must be really tired of telling people the company still exists - which can't help morale and probably reflects badly on customer service, but why Three should rate badly is a mystery.

Not that we're saying Three is famed for its customer service, but is O2 really so much better? In the overall field of 75 companies, Three came in at number 69, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone all ranked around 60, but O2 does way better, slotting in at number 24. So it's not really a matter of customers hating Three, more that they adore O2.

Customer service is really hard for a network operator - customers are a disagreeable bunch who don't understand why their phone won't work, don't understand why their bills are so high and are known for pretending to be dead in order to avoid paying. The network operator is expected to provide technical support for thousands of handset models, physics instruction for those who can't get coverage and constantly justify tariffs when cut-throat competition already keeps them low.

The question, therefore, is not what Three and the others are doing wrong, it is how O2 manages to do it right and what the other operators should be doing if they want to emulate that success. ®

* That's "Three", not "3" or "3UK". Apparently the numbering thing has become too much for the company, and we're told that the word is now the preferred monicker - sorry for any confusion.

** Your correspondent is not, apparently, rich enough - not that I'm bitter or anything.

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