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:
@whichconvoTied into my contract until Jan 2014 even though I can’t have a complete conversation on my phone when at home
— Neil Burrows (@neilab28) May 22, 2013
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?