back to article Feel old? You will now: Blighty's mobile network Three is a teenager

Hutchison Whampoa’s Three network turns 13 today. The fifth mobile network to launch in the UK went live on … the March 3, 2003. Or 3-3-03. (Geddit? The date was no accident: 3 is a lucky number in Chinese culture.) Car crash Even with Hutch’s billions behind it, 3 had a rotten launch. The entire industry was suffering a …

  1. djstardust

    Teenage tantrums

    Throwing people off the "one" plan and charging them double

    Restricting services by routing "at home" traffic back to the UK for filtering but blaming local networks

    Useless unprofessional CS staff in India who tell you something different every time you call.

    I really loved Three but recently they have been a nightmare. The #makeitright campaign is purely irony. They should look at how they treat their own customers rather than challenging everyone else in the Mobile Industry.

    1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: Teenage tantrums

      Three had terrible customer service 12 years ago when I mistakenly tried them out. I remember a conversation where I said that the service where I lived (Billericay, Essex) was terrible and the indian call centre inoperative asked "is that near a place called Edin-berg because there's an outage there?".

      So it seems little has changed. And the fact that they're potentially taking over o2 fills me with dread. EE is already shite anyway and is being taken over by a company with no experience of getting things right (BT); vodafone seems to have no service anywhere I've seen people use it, and there isn't anyone else.

  2. Andy Non Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Not impressed with Three

    I recently moved back to the UK from France and wanted a new smart phone ideally with the ability to use in France and the UK. Someone suggested Three, so I went to their local store. After around an hour, I'd picked a new phone, tariff and also decided to go with their WiFi internet as I live in a rural location. The assistant spent around twenty minutes putting everything through their computer, checked my ID, proof of residence and verified my bank account by doing a 50p test transaction. After feeding in all the details of my subscription etc they got an error message on screen saying I didn't live at my stated address. They said my bank had refused the direct debit. Went to my bank they said there were no problems. Went back to Three and they tried again. Another twenty minutes later it failed again. They suggested trying again a few days later. Went back several days later, went through the whole rigmarole again and it failed again. Went back to my bank taking a screen print from Three's computer screen saying the bank had refused the direct debit because I didn't live at that address. Bank checked their transaction logs, there were no failed / refused transactions and they gave me a screen print to show Three. Went back to Three and they could offer no explanation.

    Getting well pissed off by now, I went home, phoned BT and they arranged for broadband to be installed, I also sorted out a new smart phone and SIM card with them as well. All sorted straight away, no problems. While BT generally gets poor reviews for their customer service they were miles ahead of Three who couldn't even manage to sell me anything despite my best efforts. In retrospect it sounds like I had a lucky escape as I gather they've now doubled the price of the mobile tariff I was going to sign up for. I've also subsequently learned that the assistant at Three was economical with the truth as the tariff they'd suggested for use in both France and the UK was limited to a 12 week period per year and I also wouldn't have been able to phone any French numbers from my phone. So much for the international roaming bit. Won't be going to Three again for anything. Bunch of incompetents / liars.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Not impressed with Three

      I recently moved back to the UK from France

      This is most probably the root cause of your problem, you were unknown to any UK credit reference agency. From experiences with relatives, you would of been well advised to have made the initial transaction from France and then performed a change of address and bank.

      1. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: Not impressed with Three

        @Roland6, you may be right, but I didn't know that at the time and the assistants at Three were clueless, including the store manager who was equally baffled. The situation was likely not helped by the erroneous / misleading error message given by their computer system. It was a complete waste of their time and mine (on several occasions) and also somewhat embarrassing. I certainly won't go there again, especially in light of discovering that they were economical with the truth about the suitability of their suggested tariff despite me clearly explained what I wanted to do.

    2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: Not impressed with Three

      I'm just surprised the broadband works, that's all

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Not impressed with Three

        3 have been refreshingly good at customer service for me, then again I was on Orange before...

        1. Andy Non Silver badge

          Re: Not impressed with Three

          @Triggerfish, I used to be with Orange in France. Appalling customer service, decrepit land-line infrastructure with telephone lines hanging off poles and trailing along the side of the road for years on end. Crap or non-existent broadband. Poor mobile coverage. They even sign you up for extra paid services without permission. Orange were also a complete nightmare to cancel at the end of the contract. Unlike in the UK you can't just terminate a direct debit. In France, Orange continue stealing money from your account and simply ignore all requests to cancel the contract (both written and verbal requests to their customer support staff). I won't go into the lengthy saga and extreme measure I had to adopt to terminate my account with them. Won't touch Orange again with a bargepole.

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: Not impressed with Three

            Orange continued to charge me for the initial number you get for a brief hour or so while you wait for your current one to be moved across. Didn't tell me of course, just sent a baliff round to my door 3 years later, with a bill for two years worth of rental charges.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phones have always been a marginal part of my life, so nothing about them will make me feel old.

    Telling me Windows 98 is old enough to drink will do it though.

  4. AmenFromMars

    "Hutchison Whampoa’s Three network turns 13 today"

    I think Hutchison Whampoa is now CK Hutchison, from Wiki "CK Hutchison Holdings Limited is a Cayman Islands-registered conglomerate headquartered in Hong Kong. The company was formed in March 2015 through the merger of Cheung Kong Holdings and its main associate company Hutchison Whampoa."

    1. paulf Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: "Hutchison Whampoa’s Three network turns 13 today"

      I can't imagine why they chose the Cayman islands....

      With all this focus on Apple, Amazon, Google and (especially today) Facebook over their questionable tax behaviour; does anyone know how much tax Three UK pay? I suppose the same question is appropriate to other CKH tentacles in the UK, like Superdrug. Asking for a friend.

  5. Martin Summers Silver badge

    I still have a 3toGo tariff active, I still have not used it properly since I signed up when they launched, their coverage is still too bad for my liking. Strangely they've not hassled me once to come off it. I bought an e606 for some reason God only knows why when I had absolutely no one to make a video call with. I think I only made a video call much later on with a different phone and network,three were definitely just a novelty at the start and boy were the networks ripped off for their 3g licences.

  6. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    Really want to feel old?

    Just remember that there is a non-trivial number of voters in the US who are too young to remember the September 11th terrorist attacks.

  7. paulf Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Merger approval still pending, please hold

    "Here's hoping it stays feisty and consumer focussed after it becomes the biggest network. ®"

    Who's said it's a done deal? Does AO know something we don't? I for one am hoping that four definitely doesn't become, ahem, Three. Even though I'm not with O2 or Three I still benefit from the competitive pressures their separate existences create.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a problem with Three PayAsYouGo.

    They have recently for the past month blocked my PC from tethering with my mobile ever since my £20 all you can eat data got downgraded to 12 Gigabytes per 30 days. I only used my PC for minimal downloads, not more than 2 Gigabytes a month. Ok! If I choose to now revert to a 12 month contract, I will receive the return of my all you can eat data at no extra charge. I can see the method in the logic.

    My problem is that at the same time as the block, the receiver at the end of my mobile phone calls is no longer hearing my voice. It is not a problem with my Galaxy Note 3 phone as I have tried using a completely different make of phone and I still have the same problem.

    Three's email helpline is useless as they don't respond to my messages. SMS messages get no response from three. Calls to three help from my mobile don't work, as three cannot hear my voice and cannot be bothered to call you back. It seems my £20 is now paying for data only. Will three kindly return my mobile service? Is this a common problem?

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