/ Technology

No mobile signal? Leaving your contract could cost you

Mobile signal

Mobiles are a ubiquitous part of life for most of us. I’m never more than a few feet away from my smartphone. So there’s nothing worse than being midway through a conversation and bam – there goes your signal.

Having my mobile with me at all times means I can be in contact with anyone at the drop of a hat. So for me, the only thing worse than having a dodgy signal is having no signal at all, like the unfortunate people featured in BBC’s Watchdog programme recently.

Many people have been paying out hundreds of pounds on mobile phone contracts, despite being unable to get signal in their homes or workplaces. For them, it’s money down the drain. But if they try to leave their mobile provider, they’re often hit with high cancellation fees – despite the fact they’re only leaving as the service doesn’t work.

Complain about your contract

Londoner and Vodafone customer Charlie Ballard told the BBC he wasn’t able to make or receive calls, send texts or use the internet from his office in St Paul’s. His phone tells him he has good signal, yet he cannot make or receive calls anywhere in the City.

When Charlie complained, Vodafone explained that its network cannot cope with the number of people making calls and downloading data in the City of London.

With limited service, Charlie wanted to leave his contract. But instead, he found himself facing a fee of £550 to leave because he receives adequate reception at his home address where the phone is registered. Charlie’s complaint is now with the ombudsman and Vodafone says it’s ‘taking steps to improve the way we tell customers about network issues in the future’.

It reminds me of a horrible few months towards the end of my degree, where I was stuck with a phone that wasn’t much more than an expensive brick. It was the heady days of the mid-noughties in the pre-smartphone era. Due to a technical fault, my new phone simply wouldn’t work. No calls in, no calls out. It was awful.

No signal, no deal

When we tweeted about the issue during Watchdog, lots of you replied with stories of bad mobile signal, like Neil:

Unlike Neil, losing signal is just an occasional annoyance for me nowadays. By and large I’m able to get some sort of signal in most places, except in Hay-on-Wye for some reason. The occasional beep and sound of dead air when a call drops is usually reserved for when I’m on the train.

But I don’t think it’s fair that people are locked into contracts when they receive no service. No service should mean no contract. Do you struggle to get a usable signal on your mobile phone? Which provider are you with?


I have been a Vodafone customer for many years without many problems. I live in the weeping cross area of Stafford and we used to have a very good signal from a large mast on the old Staffordshire Police Headquaters site. This has now been removed so the police can sell the whole site for housing. Since the removal of the mast and no replacement has been agreed with Stafford Borough council I have times with no service at all and most times a very poor signal when at home. I have contacted Vodafone many times and all they tell me is my signal should be good and they will not admit there is a problem. Have checked cost if changing supplier and it would cost me over £300 ? I think it’s disgusting these phone companies can still charge full price for a very poor service ?

Caitlin says:
6 August 2015

It’s honestly ridiculous, I hardly ever get signal in my house and whenever I do you can hardly hear the person on the end of the line, but vodafone are offering this sure signal crap which is an extra £50!! This shouldn’t even be a thing they charge us extra when it’s their responsibility to make sure all of the customers have a decent signal! !

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I too live on weeping cross and the problem still exists now. I have to travel out of my neighbourhood just to phone ee and vent my frustration. I would change provider but it doesnt seem to matter who you are with. As Mike said the problem arose when whoever got rid of the big mast on police hq in exchange for a few smaller ones. To say not being able to use your mobile is an inconvenience would be a massive uderstatement. The vast majority of residents in this area are pensioners and rely solely on their mobile as a form of contact? If they have a fall or god forbid a heart attack, a non working mobile is putting there lives at risk!!

It would seem sensible for vulnerable people, or indeed anyone in an area of poor general mobile reception, to have a landline until the mobile coverage is improved, wouldn’t it?

I changed banks and still 4 months on Vodafone haven’t set up direct debt correctly, because we don’t know we get charged late payment every month which then means your credit rating is going down, cant get out of contract makes me so mad

I have had no signal for a week now at my home from Tesco mobile. They tell me they have no idea when I will get my signal back but I cannot cancel my contract which runs till May 2018. I am so angry! But May 2018 will come round and I shall be telling Tesco where to put there phone and the contract.