You pay, they provide. That’s how I think my mobile contract works. In return for my £20 a month I get to make calls, send texts and use the net from time to time. But what about when your provider doesn’t provide?
We regularly get complaints from readers who have signed up with a mobile provider only to find they can’t get any service. But getting out of your contract is far from simple. Few providers will let you cancel and, in our experience, many will make it difficult for you to leave without paying a hefty exit fee, even when you can prove that you’re not receiving a signal.
Bad reception isn’t just a problem for those living in a house boat on the Norfolk broads or halfway up Mount Snowden. It’s also a problem for those in Birmingham who can’t get signal in their front room, or for the person wandering round their garden in Guildford just to get reception.
You do have rights under the Supply of Goods and Services Act to cancel your contract if you’re not getting a signal, but this can involve the regulator, an Ombudsman service and almost certainly a lot of your time.
Your provider should at least accurately tell you whether they provide good coverage where you live before you sign up. But they don’t.
Providers do have network coverage maps on their websites, but these are based on computer predictions. Quite simply they often aren’t accurate enough, so inaccurate that last year the Advertising Standards Agency ordered EE to change its coverage map after a customer complained.
Coverage maps don’t, for example, take into account things such as trees or buildings blocking the signal. So, if you live anywhere in the UK that has, well, buildings or trees these maps aren’t for you.
By the time most people discover they need to lean out of the upstairs bathroom window to take a phone call, it’s already too late to cancel.
Help us map the UK
That’s why we’ve published a mobile phone network coverage map based on real life data. Powered by OpenSignal, the map is based on millions of real signals with data collected by users of OpenSignal’s free app. This gives a more accurate picture of which provider offers the best coverage where you live.
However, there’s more work to be done. If the UK is to have a truly accurate coverage map, OpenSignal needs more data to cover the whole country in more detail. You can find out how to help us and Opensignal by visiting our mobile coverage map.
Are you frustrated by bad signal on your mobile? Do you have to hang out of a window just to get good coverage? Tell us about your signal woes.