The best (and worst) call centres - your nominations, please

Photo by maximolly on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Twice in the past year, I've been treated like an idiot by my bank's call centre staff. That's fair enough, because I am an idiot, but they don't know that. In February, a member of staff promised to courier a new credit card to me, after I politely pointed out I'd waited a fortnight and it clearly wasn't going to arrive before my trip abroad. Turns out the operator was lying and in fact the bank offered no such service. Cheers.

The second time was last month, when I lost all access to my online banking. It took five calls - of which three resulted in broken promises to phone me back - before somebody figured out why I couldn't log in. In the few days I was without online banking, I went overdrawn by £30, resulting in a £38 bank charge. The letter informing me of the charge suggested I manage my money better by the means of online banking.

Thank you, NatWest.

I suspect and indeed hope they came way below First Direct in the Top 50 Call Centres for Customer Service, the results of which have just been released. The bank scored 92% in the UK's biggest ever call centre benchmarking exercise, conducted by independent market research company GfK NOP. The overall top 50 average was 83%, although there are far more than 50 companies with call centres in the country, so the figure doesn't neccessarily bear out real life experience.

Thankfully, NatWest is nowhere in sight of the top 10.

1 First Direct
2 Denplan
3 F&C investments
4 Lloyds TSB Insurance
5 Laithwaites
6 Prudential
7 Charles Tyrwhitt
8 ING Direct
9 Specsavers
10 Cambridgeshire County Council

The research consisted of 20,000 mystery shopper calls to 50 of the UK's leading call centres. Each call centre was rated across five key areas of service - timeliness, ease of use, reliability, staff knowledge and personalised service.

Now, we've all had dealings with operators who are only too happy to help (I'm assuming that's the case) and we've probably all dealt with, not to put too fine a point on it, utter bastards. So would you agree with the findings? Who are your big winner call centre winners? And who needs a bloody good hiding?


  • steve-o
    dell! got a pc that was D.O.A. and after a few questions the indian guy on the end of the line asked me if i "had a philips head screwdriver to hand". W T F
  • pedobear
    O2, asked me so many obscure security questions first off, been with them 6 years, said he cannot continue the call, all I was trying to do was upgrade my phone, gave my business to phones4u online and got good service!
  • David P.
    The Microsoft Xbox 360 helpline is pretty bad in you get through to India. My strategy for Indian call centres is simply to hang up and try again if you have to repeat yourself more than once.
  • David P.
    If we're looking at good call centres, I've found Barclaycard CS to be pretty good. They have always solved any problems I have had with them, be it card fraud or just offering gestures of goodwill to my account. I have also had experience with First Direct and found them very accommodating as well.
  • LeighB
    BT- OMG it's British Telecom.. clue is in the title there... the guy could neither speak nor understand British. I had to get transferred to someone who had a better grip on the lingo. When trying to get my new wireless connection to actually work I was asked repeatedly (and I mean, this was the end result of every single problem solving flowchart we seemed to go along) "It switch on???" What am I? Stupid?? Ok don't answer that......
  • Sam
    Orange. Plain and simply, they're awful at times.
  • Wurzel
    The Pits: Three Mobile. I swear there's a big poster in their call centre which reads "And what would Satan say next ?" The Peak : O2 Broadband Customer Service. Just terrific.
  • Andrew
    Worst: without doubt Telewest and Simply Computers (who appear to no longer be in business, yay) Orange are also awful.
  • evil c.
    Orange, orange and orange again. Utterly useless company. It's a little known fact that their staff arrive at work in the mornings about as intelligent as most folk ..... then somewhere between 8:55am - 8:59am they're chemically labotamised and sat at a desk. After being blindfolded they're sat at their terminal and presented with a keyboard where all the lettering has been scratched off AND re-arranged so it's not in qwerty format any longer. Carbon monoxide is then pumped into the room. After chanting the company slogan "we'll rob them blind, we'll rob them blind" for 15 minutes, "work" can proceed .... only it doesn't. "The future's bright"? .... only for themselves. Useless
  • Ilkin Orange Paypal These are most terrible support centres. They are not able to resolve simple issues for not days and weeks but several MOTNH!
  • Byron
    I actually work at first direct and have to say that we really do try hard and quite a deserved award. It pisses me off when calling other companies and getting terrible service. Not that we're perfect mind! Good Service Sky - i know alot of people may disagree but their service really has been great. more so for the broadband side of things. Barclaycard - Recently changed to UK only centre, used to be India which was terrible but great now. Bad Service Dell - Numptys just total Numptys - but cheap so i'll still use em hehe Halifax Bank - Plain awful, Just Awful One thing i would say that i do hate is people who try to sell you things (halifax worst offender) really pees me off. If i want to buy something i'll feckin ask, DOn't ask if i want a credit card everytime i call, go in a branch, get a statement. watch TV. hehe
  • David S.
    Best? o2 are usually spot on and I'm very happy with their products and service. Worst? Easy, three mobile broadband, just don't get me started on this one, I now refuse to deal with Indian call centres purely because of my experience with three, abysmal, just abysmal.

What do you think?

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