Thursday 30 October 2008

Consumer Rights and Advice for your Three Complaint

There are a number of sites out there issuing advice on your consumer rights but in reality nobody is more qualified to give you advice on your issues than the followxing sites

The Office of Fair Trading, OFT, have set up the Site Consumer Direct which gives you your rights with most industries including mobile phones. My personal opinion the site content is quite limited but there is an email address and telephone number for you to contact them.
Their advice line is: 08454 04 05 06

We all know about the Citizens Advice Bureau, but I guess not all of us have got round to using them...Well you should! That's what they are there for. You just need to search for your local office and it will provide you with details of how to get there or call them.

Trading Standards. Although I'm not too sure how they could deal with your complaint specifically, I've been informed that they may be able to make an investigation into your complaint BUT they are not a replacement for contacting Otelo or Ofcom who deal with these matters specifically.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

How difficult (illegal?) can H3Gs Termination Team make it to leave H3G?

Here is a recent complaint sent to me:

Copy of letter sent to H3G head office and local Trading Standards...

I wish to formally complain about one of your operators in India: xxxx xxxxxx, ID xxxxx.This morning, I spent over 60 minutes, repeatedly asking this operator to accept early termination fee and issue a PAC code.
Within the first 5 minutes, I had explained my reasons for wishing to terminate my contract:
1. Workplace coverage issues (no 3G, intermittent 2G @ postcode TD6 xxx)
2. Internet MAX does not work at all in 2G area (i.e. my workplace).
During the next 45 minutes, your operator repeatedly ignored my requests to process my early termination payment of £xx. Eventually I threatened to report 3UK to my local Trading Standards and requested his name and Operator ID.
At that point, the operator agreed to process my payment, during which he incorrectly entered my card details 2 times, then informed me that your ‘payment gateway’ might be down.
I offered to use a VISA card, which also failed due to ‘gateway issues’.I was then informed that my termination could not be processed and that it would not be possible for someone to call me back when the technical issues were resolved.Under UK law, I have the right to cancel my contract at any time, but Three UK appear to be actively denying my this right and placing obstacles in my way.
Please investigate my complaint and arrange for a UK based 3UK operator to contact me to process the termination request and issue me with a PAC code ate.

N.B. I have contacted my local Trading Standards office and asked them to become involved

Friday 24 October 2008

First Steps - Contacting Three Customer Services

A lot of you would have already gone past this stage with no hope as you know how useless 3's customer service is but it is essential that you do complete this part.

But you need logs of all the dates, calls etc.. you have made.So I had an idea, submit your query using their Chat Program, once you get there, click on the green banner where it says "Got a Technical Query? Chat with a tech advisor now" and it will launch an instant messaging chat service for you. This way you should be able to keep records of all your correspondance by copy and pasting the whole conversation and saving it in word, unless anyone can think of a better way?

28/11/08: Quick update to the above statement: It appears that since this site has started that Three have decided to remove their online chat program. Not sure why as there are a variety of factors but it is a disappointment as it was a good way to record your conversations. Hopefully it's only a temporary removal. Please email me if you know otherwise.

I'd say if you've had a couple of weeks of bad luck with them then you should got to Step 2. If they're offering you a replacement for your phone make sure that it is either exactly the same model or a model which is worth more. You can check this by going on to Google Shopping and typing in the make and model of the phone 3 are offering and your existing phone to compare values.

Your composure on the phone/chat service, is essential. Be calm, don't show your anger etc... at them as this will not help you. Remember a lot of these overseas call centres train their staff well to be resilient (But they don't train them in Customer Services!!! ironic isn't it?).

If you are not happy with the outcome of your calls then just tell them it's not good enough and you will be taking your complaint further in writing, which is the next step of making formal letter of complaint to their first line of customer services.

Check out a recent post of possible alternative Three numbers and email addresses

Step 2 - Writing to Three

Here is the first address you should write to:

3 Customer services (complaints)
Hutchison 3G UK Ltd
PO Box 333
G2 9AG

I have put (complaints) after the name just so they know!

I have already written to this address and after 14 days still have not recieved any response from them yet!

Make sure your letter is firm but not too threatening and explains your complaint clearly and concisely. Also explain that you have made several calls etc.. to their customer services and you are not happy with the outcome.

Make sure that you end the letter requesting acknowledgement ASAP. This is for your records.

If you don't hear from them within 14 days then you need to write to a more senior agent within the organisation. I have been fortunate to be given this contact after a query to Otelo:

Lisa Kidd
3 Executive Office
123 St Vincent St
G2 5EA

Much in the same way as your previous letter(s), state your dissatisfaction of their service expecially if you have been ignored the first couple of times.

If they are not providing the service you have paid for and they are ignoring you, then let her know! Use terms like "Breach of Contract" and "Null and Void" (use both sparingly, don't over do it!) especially if you are still tied down to a contract with several months left in it. Fact of the matter is you are paying them and they aren't offering you the service you deserve.

Once again request acknowledgement of your letter and state how many weeks it has been since your initial complaint and if you don't hear from her you will seek the advice of Otelo.

Step 3 - Taking your Three Complaint Further

If your complaint still hasn't been resolved then you need to fall under one of these 2 categories below in order to move forward

1. It has been 12 weeks since you have registered your first complaint including telephone and Formal complaints to the company itself. I'm guessing this includes if your letters are ignored.

2. You have recieved a "deadlock letter" from the company where they have stated that there is nothing more they are going to do with your complaint.

The Office of Communications, OFCOM are the official regulators of the communications industry and this link will take you to their mobile phone complaints. OFCOM do not deal directly with your complaint but you can submit a survey and they will register & monitor it. If and when they recieve complaints they may decide to investigate the company so it's worth doing this survery first.

Ofcom has approved an Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (ADR) known as Otelo (Office of the Telecommunitcations Ombudsman) who deal with individual complaints once step1 and 2 of the complaints procedure with the company in question have been completed.

Click here to see their complaints procedure which outlines some of the informaiton I've already mentioned in more detail. You should also get a Case Reference for your investigation. I'd suggest ringing or emailing Otelo first regarding your complaint and see what advice they give and leave it with them to arrange a resolution for you.

Don't let 3 Get away with it!!!!

If your problem is very serious then why not submit it to BBC's Watchdog too and shame them? Just a thought....

Final Steps - Leaving Three

Well the previous step was really the final step but if you find even Otelo cannot sort out a resolution for your complaint out then you are only left with one real option....LEAVE THREE!!! Taking legal action is not really a viable option unless your issue has left you heavily out of pocket.

That's right! ride out your ripoff 18 month contract and leave them for another, more efficient service provider.

It will hit 3 hard if several hundred if not thousand customers leave them, don't fall into another trap even if they offer you a cheaper package as you'll end up back in a vicious circle with them.

Other companies such as Vodafone, O2, and Orange offer exceptional customer service, network coverage and deals which can match 3's.What you need to do is when you are near to the end of a contract, ring 3 customer services (yes again!!!) and ask for your PAC number (Porting Authorisation Code).

This number when given to your new service provider will allow you to keep the same number you have been using with 3.

Thursday 23 October 2008

Three Email and Telephone Contacts

As many of you know, the website do not offer anything but a generic telephone number and online query request.

I have been scouring the net for direct email addresses and telephone numbers and have come up with the following results for a selection of forums and sites

I have recieved a call from Glasgow from this number which may be worth trying: 07533 336759 although it was a call for an upgrade so not sure.

I haven't tried and tested any of these so use them at your discretion Although I'm guessing you'll get an automated response from here.

08707 330295: Seems to be a number that directs you to the Glasgow Customer Service Center A recent forum post suggested this as a successful contact (director of Customer Services). Make sure you have a valid reason for contacting him and all the relevent details.

The following landline/free numbers have been obtained from Say No To 0870:

01442 456195/0800 3586795 (freephone) - Customer Services Straight to the Operator

01628 765000 - Head Office (Maidenhead Switchboard)

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Oftel: more complaints from 3 subscribers

Back in 2003 but I still believe is relevant

The UK telecom watchdog Oftel received on average more complaints from 3's customers than any other mobile operators. The figures published by Oftel shows Virgin Mobile to be the best network with less than 0.1 complaint per thousand subscribers between April 1 and the end of September.

Vodafone was second with 0.1 complaints per thousand customers. Orange lost the best network title and is tied with T-Mobile and O2 with 0.2 complaints for every 1000 customers.

3 launched UK's first 3G network in March of this year but has been hampered by limited network coverage and drop calls. Oftel received 552 complaints about 3's service but were unable to obtain customer base information from 3 to make comparison with other carriers. The operator had about 155,000 subscribers by the end of August and it is estimated about 186,000 by end of September. In this case there would be 2.97 complaint for every 1000 customers.

The top three complaints received by Oftel included companies ignoring customer's complaint (6%), issues regarding operators' tariff and options package (6%) and problems with handsets (5%). Consumer complaining about the battery running down quickly and hands-free kits not working with the phone were examples given by Oftel regarding problems with handsets. These are also the problems faced by 3's subscribers.

WCDMA handsets, used by 3, tend to have shorter battery life and are bigger in size than current 2G mobiles. Japanese operator NTT DoCoMo faced similar difficulties when they launched their 3G services over two years ago. Short battery life in handsets and limited coverage has left the carrier lagging behind its rival KDDI.

Thursday 16 October 2008

3 Cold Calling

The irony of it all is even during my complaints process (including yesterday as I was writing on this site, I recieve cold calls from the Indian Call centre and THEY request my password and address. I feel like I'm on fonejacker!!!

I also get calls from from a UK based call center asking me to upgrade even though I only just had my upgrade a few months ago. They never update their systems and apparently the Indian database is totally out of synch with the UK one.


Edit: Recieved an unusual comment from an obviously clueless person.

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Post your complaints with 3 Here for others to see

Right so now you've read my guide and hopefully you'll be well on your way to getting a satisfactory resolution to your complaint.

Post comments here on your issues with you are having with Three. Include any details you like including the problem itself, what 3 have done to resolve the situation what actions you have taken.

Alternatively you can email me on and I will create a whole post regarding your complaint if it is serious.

Please don't be abusive or rude, I will use this site as my way of highlighting the issues with 3 and their customer services.
Disclaimer: Please note that we have not affiliation with the Three Mobile network, Hutchison 3G or any of their subsidiaries. This site has not been created to attack the network but to provide a consumer site to assist in resolving issues for Three customers. We welcome any feedback and comments from Three themselves.