What happens if you’ve got rubbish mobile phone signal at home, but you’re locked into a one- or two-year contract? Is it easy to cancel? No, as many of the stories shared on last week’s BBC Watchdog showed.
For many of us, mobile phones are attached to us like another limb. They’ve become essential for organising our lives – whether it’s keeping in touch with friends and family or for making those dreaded work calls.
But however much you use it, the least you’d expect is to have a working phone signal at home. But that’s not always the case, as James told us on Twitter:
— James Fishwick (@fishwickj) October 17, 2014
Most providers have a mobile coverage checker to see if you’ll get a good signal in your home or at work. This is something Vodafone advises:
‘We would always advise customers to check the coverage for the locations that are important to them before taking out an agreement with us or any other operator. They can check Vodafone coverage online using our network and coverage checker.
‘New Vodafone customers can also test their coverage over their first two-week period with us and return the phone to us, without any fuss, if they find the coverage isn’t satisfactory for their needs.’
You can also check the 3G and 4G signal for each of the main mobile providers in your area with our mobile coverage map.
Only getting signal in your garden
But what if your signal goes Pete Tong well into your contract? That’s what happened to Catherine Pugh, who shared her story on BBC Watchdog.
She’d been with Orange for years with perfect signal, until it started to go bad. In order to speak to someone she had to go outside to sit on a bench in her garden and point her mobile in the right direction. Catherine tried to get out of her contract, but was told she’d have to pay a £200 termination fee.
It turned out one of the phone masts in her area had been decommissioned and through perseverance she was able to get out of her contract. Orange told BBC Watchdog:
‘We look into each signal issue on its own merits but if it’s not possible to restore service, as is the case with Ms Pugh, we will release a customer from their contract.’
If you get a sustained and prolonged lack of service you may have a chance of getting out of your contract – you can read up on this in our consumer rights guide. It’s certainly not easy. So does something need to be done?
Ofcom and bad phone signal
Ofcom has said it’s supporting initiatives to improve mobile phone coverage, and recognises that it’s an issue the networks need to sort. It’s also providing people with better information on the quality of service they can get from each provider, so you can make better choices. But could it be doing more?
Should mobile providers be more upfront about your rights to cancel if you get poor signal? Have you tried to get out of your contract for persistent signal problems at home or at work? What happened? We’ll then share your comments with Ofcom.