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back to article Supermarkets trounce telcos on mobile services

Supermarkets have taken over the grocery industry, DVD rental services and even the car insurance business, so it should come as little surprise they now dominate the mobile phone market too. In fact, supermarkets offer a better mobile phone service than the more established telcos, it seems. According to a survey conducted by …

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Know what you get

I suspect that someone buying a phone from a supermarket is an experienced user and already knows what they want and need.

Leaving the witless to wander unaided into the den of fools run by most telcos, who would pay less if they could for an even spottier youth.

And so a feedback loop forms. The people who need technical support end up buying from the suppliers who are demonstrably the worst at providing it, and so the spiral of death develops.

And it becomes easier to buy from supermarkets.

I'd accuse tesco of cherrypicking the easy customers and leaving the expensive ones to the competition, just like with everything else. But in this case I have no sympathy for Ono or Vodalone or minus3 or the rest of them, so:

* Good on yer Tesco.

* Where is my Aldi phone?

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My thought was that it'd be the other way around,

with people just picking up a cheap, PAYG, predominantly to be use for voice calling, from Tesco, and shopping around the operator shops for anything more complicated.

Whichever it is, the operators appear to be doing a fine job of driving customers away from their stores. Places like Phones4U strike me as not being much better, so the market is likely being handed to the supermarkets on a plate.

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Sample Size!

Sample sizes Tesco (86), O2 (1193), T-Mobile (519), Virgin Mobile (336), Vodafone (828), Orange (1014), 3 (380).

mm

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It depends

The thing about Tesco is that they don't publish an easy to find list of everything in their tariff - for example, unless you bundle your data in their PAYG - you'll end up paying 4 quid a Mb for data...

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Anonymous Coward

Let us know what you think below

Seeing as you asked nicely.

I think Which? surveys are a waste of space.

Maybe I've been extremely lucky but it always appears that whenever I've had a product or car that has done really badly in a Which? survey it's been absolutely no trouble at all.

I lost faith in the magazine and can't take its surveys seriously.

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FAIL

Nor...

.... is cost the be all and end all.

I could easily go for a Tesco phone here - but signal would be zero, so while my mobile would cost less to run, I'd be pumping a lot of 60ps into call boxes. Same for anyone piggybacking on O2 in fact.

I have now had a phone with each of the networks and 2 supermarkets. Leaving aside coverage issues none of them are customer-focused and none communicate well - they're all universally crap at it - which is simultaneously galling and amusing when they're trying to be communications providers.

Which? I prefer Andrex - it's more absorbent (and a better read).

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Troll

(untitled)^2

Oddly, I've found Vodafail to be about the worst in terms of call initiation and completion - also their coverage appears to be patchy even on major trunk routes. Then their call costs abroad have risen sharply in the last year (change of T&Cs that they published five clicks deep in their website and apparently nowhere else).

I've migrated back to O2 this year; my data connectivity works again (is now relatively fast too) and the coverage is at least honest - if I get service I can make a call which is more than I can say for Vodafone or Three.

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Tesco were good.

Tesco, for a while, were the cheapest and provided a good service, but recent price increases have almost doubled the tariff for PAYG.

Try GiffGaff, they're cheap and geek friendly.

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Terminator

yes but...

...coming to the end of a 2 year contract - I've worked out that the best way to ensure that you don't end up with an antique albatross around your neck is:

1. Buy a bleeding edge phone outright.

2. Get whichever 30 day (12 month if you must) SIM only Contract that represents best value.

3. Enjoy.

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Anonymous Coward

Since you ask.

First thing I thought: This probably includes a lot of consumer bias.

If you don't care about reliable service but want something that works most of the time at a reasonable price, then getting your phone service from a supermarket is ace. What do they know about being a telco, eh?

But from a telco you'd expect they do know, and hoo boy, do they. As in the Tomlin sense. Everybody knows this, so it doesn't cost them as much points as it should. But still.

That's what I think anyway.

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which? hah!

I lost faith in which over a decade ago when they rated their own brand ISP as being the best when anyone who knew anything could tell it wasn't.

Apart from the dumb conflict of interest it showed me that they really didn't know what they were talking about... so why should I trust them about anything that I don't know about?

At least with the ISP's I could tell that they were wrong

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Anonymous Coward

I don't believe it

I was with Vodafone for the best part of a decade before switching to Orange.

Despite being a Vodafone prefered customer (racking up the occasional £800 monthly bill while abroad) when I switched to Orange my bills are around 25% less and the customer service is much, much better

(except for my answer phone. They can't manage to give a caller an engaged tone, if I'm on the phone, without switching off my entire voicemail function.)

My experience of Orange is vastly better than Voda, so apologies, but I just don't believe those figures.

Plus, with the rip off attitudes of the supermarkets, I only use them for the "can't get anywhere else" shopping these days; I'm certainly not going to trust them with my mobile phone.

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Happy to not creep up the value chain

The thing about Tescos is - they seem to be pretty happy to be purveyors of handsets, minutes and kilobytes... a dumb carrier, in other words and they seem to do the basic stuff well and unobtrusively.

Many of the others seem desperate to climb the value chain, they don't want to be commoditised, they want you to buy into their special value-added services and bundled software platforms ... which are usually tiresome dreck.

Poor things.

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Happy

Can't find the quality of coverage column...

Did they miss that off the table or is this survey like so many others; ask the questions that you need to get the result you want? I don't remember Tesco or any of the other supermarkets building their own phone network so I assume that they are in fact piggybacking on the existing services of the main suppliers (Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere, etc). In which case do they also piggy back on the billing systems of these companies as well.

I'm sticking with my current supplier from whom I have received excellent service at a price I like using phones I can buy from anywhere at a reasonable price

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Anonymous Coward

IKEA's family mobile is rather good

Happy with familymobile from IKEA, very cheap on PAYG and free calls between family members. Best to buy the handset elsewhere though.

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Can be useful for getting cheap handsets

The wife just picked up an HTC Desire HD from Tesco for about half of its list price due to using up Tesco ClubCard points with some special multiplier that they were offering at the time. A quick (and infuriating) call to Tesco and £20 later and it was unlocked, leaving her free to get a good SIM only deal elsewhere.

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