Hit by Three's outage last week? Some customers are getting compensation – how to claim
Mobile network Three has said it won't automatically hand out compensation to customers affected by last week's data and signal outage. But if you were affected, you can try to claim – and some are already managing to get up to £20 credit as compensation.
Many mobile users on the network struggled with their phones from about 11.30pm on Wednesday 16 October until about 4pm the next day.
But Three has confirmed that customers who want to be compensated will have to claim, and that it won't be offering an automatic compensation scheme like the one O2 offered after a similar outage last year.
Over the weekend, Three began sending affected customers messages to apologise, telling them to get in touch if they wanted to talk about their options. And while it's early days, we've already seen dozens of successes from customers who have been given bill credit as compensation.
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'I managed to negotiate £20 credit'
Technically, you have limited consumer rights in this situation. You could complain under the Consumer Rights Act for a service not provided, but even if you were successful you'd likely only be able to claim a small proportion of what you pay monthly, and so you'd only get pennies.
However, in this case it seems Three is willing to issue bill credit to customers who were inconvenienced by the outage and have complained about it, and the compensation it's paying appears to be more than just a straight refund for the time its network was down. We've heard from lots of MoneySavers who have been compensated and typically they seem to be getting £5-£10 in bill credit. Here are just a few of the successes we've seen:
- Nigel emailed us to say: "After I also complained about an unnecessary wait, I managed to negotiate a £20 credit to my next bill."
- On Facebook, Emma-Louise McMahon wrote: "I just got £10 compensation because I had a car accident at the time and was unable to use my phone to call for help or search for my insurance details. I wouldn't have complained if it hadn't caused such problems, but I'm happy that they've made a gesture of goodwill."
- Chris Rybak, also on Facebook, said: "Just been offered £5. Great deal for me, as my monthly bill is £6."
Three has told customers to contact it on the phone to ask for compensation but one of our staff members, MSE Sarah, was able to get £10 off her next bill after complaining to the network on live chat. She was initially offered £5, but after pushing back, this was increased to £10.
She said: "I was on my way to Thorpe Park when my phone's data and signal stopped working, which meant I couldn't access train times or maps for my journey. I contacted Three via live chat today and explained the inconvenience – it offered £5 off my next bill. I asked for £10 and it said yes."
However, some MSE team members have also been repeatedly told that there are no operators available on live chat, so you may have some difficulty getting hold of someone quickly. Let us know how you get on by emailing our news team.
How to claim for compensation
If you were affected by the loss of service and feel you're owed, try calling 333 from your Three mobile or using live chat. Some have reported long wait times however.
From what we've heard Three seems willing to engage with and quickly resolve complaints, so with luck you'll be compensated swiftly. But if you're unhappy with Three's response, or your complaint is unresolved after eight weeks, you can escalate it to the Communications Ombudsman, which will assess your complaint independently. To do this, you may need to ask Three, which is a member of this ombudsman, for a 'deadlock' letter.
When complaining, make sure you're as specific as possible about the problems the outage caused you and why you're unhappy. If you were left out of pocket as a result, include any evidence, such as screenshots and copies of any extra charges you've faced, with your complaint.
'If you make a complaint, there's a decent chance'
Steve Nowottny, news and features editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "Last week's outage caused significant disruption for a large number of Three users, so many will have been disappointed to learn that Three wasn't offering automatic compensation, as O2 did after a similar data outage last year.
"Yet the good news if you're a Three customer is that if you take the time to make a complaint, there's a decent chance you'll get somewhere. We're already seeing lots of success stories from unhappy customers who've complained – many have got a £5-£10 bill credit, while one customer has even managed to wangle £20 off their next bill.
"If you were affected by the loss of service, you can complain by calling Three or using live chat, which may be more convenient if phone lines are jammed. If you're unhappy with its response you can ultimately escalate your case to the Communications Ombudsman – but based on what we've heard from Three customers, it seems the mobile firm is generally willing to pay some measure of compensation if you've lost out."
What does Three say?
A Three spokesperson said: "If you'd like to talk to us about compensation, please call us and we will consider each case on an individual basis. Please be patient because we are experiencing high call volumes."
We've asked Smarty and iD Mobile, which use the Three network and were also affected by the outage, what their customers should do. iD Mobile said customers who were affected by the outage should contact it directly.
We've had no response from Smarty's press office, but its customer service team told us it was "reviewing the situation" and would get back to customers early next week.