Am I the only person in the UK that would pay a concierge fee to an operator?

I’m about to phone 3UK.

I have to cancel my existing iPhone 4 account. It’s got about 8 months to run and I need to simply pay off the balance and close that account. Because I opened another one to get an iPhone 4S last month. I wanted to extend the existing one, however the chap in the shop (obviously) didn’t want me to do that. Another connection is good news for him, I suppose.

The problem I’ve got is that I need to invest around 20 minutes doing this. Possibly a little longer. I need to explain to the 3UK Indian call centre why I wish to cancel whilst still in commitment. I then need them to process that I am *fine* paying off the balance — I’m concerned, or, at least, my expectations lead me to believe that this will be a big ask for them.

I then expect to have to do the yes-really dance with the various teams there at 3UK’s customer services.

I’ve been putting it off.

I just don’t know if I can be bothered. The inefficiency of it all really bugs me.


What do you think?

It could be a really simple, pleasant experience. You never know.

This got me thinking.

How much would I be prepared to pay to speak to a British fixer? You know, someone who simply listens to my 10-second request, taps some stuff into the system and tells me, “That’ll be £200 to fix.” I can then respond in the affirmative and be done with it. Job done. Simple. We move on.

I think the answer is £35. Or maybe £25. Something like that. I’d pay a premium to speak to a fully trained British chap or lady who would be available immediately to resolve my query in this particular regard.

Further, I’d probably pay extra per month to have this kind of “consider it done” service integrated into my contract.

Am I alone on this?


On the face of it, probably yes. In reality, if it was branded properly — I would pay something like £5 per month extra to have the 3UK Premier Service that gets you immediate access to an “account manager” who handles everything so you don’t have to think.

What do you think? Have I got my head in the clouds?

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

12 replies on “Am I the only person in the UK that would pay a concierge fee to an operator?”

I read your insights into how you see the mobile networks changing and I agree with them all. Every MNO world wide needs a butt kicking, but then I read things like this and I remember that some need a bigger butt kicking than others! So, obviously try to post how this all turns out and I’d also be interested in the idea of being able to choose a “service” package alongside the line rental in the future.

I think that’s a good point – I too want a more premium experience… something like First Direct (part of HSBC bank) offer in the UK (call up, speak immediately to a person etc etc) but existing networks like Three aren’t set-up for this with their current pricing / operating model.

I think this kind of service needs to be baked into a product from the ground-up. Perhaps a ‘platinum’ tariff from one of the more ‘full service’ operators like Vodafone or a niche for an ‘opposite of GiffGaff’ player…

I think Orange did offer something similar, if you opted in for £5 p/m or you had  a particular spend then when you called in to customer services you went to a 2 option IVR – Minutes/sms balance or speak to someone.
That one person would then deal with your query until it was resolved regardless of what it was.called Orange Premier – Guaranteed UK call centre also. Not sure if they still have it or not but it certainly was available. 

Yes – I just did a quick Google and it’s either been phased out or re-classified for much higher spends. Looking at the details of what was (is?) offered, it seems the customer service was better but it lacked much other differentiation.

No, but do it online, why do you need to speak to someone whose only typing into a webpage anyway?

I am perhaps being scrooge as well, but why not set a calendar alert to remind you at the end of the contract and keep the sim to make use of the bundled minutes, with the added advantage you only then need to speak to the normal retentions people, so will be on their more normal trained “flow”.

I remember getting rid of my 3UK account with the demise of 3 Like Home and they cynically used the Indian call centre workers as a barrier to you exercising your legal right to get ride of your contract. The experience of  3 in the UK is a world away from the experience of 3 in Hong Kong – and not for the better.

I hope they get the customers they deserve.

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