/ Technology

Does O2 owe you over network outage?

Thousands of O2 customers have been suffering from a service blackout since yesterday. Angry tweets have been pouring into the Which? Twitter accounts – should O2 do more than just restore coverage?

Some are suggesting that O2 should offer compensation, but let’s step back a bit – what’s actually happened?

O2’s network crashed yesterday for ‘thousands’ of its 23 million customers. O2 customers weren’t the only ones suffering – GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile (which piggyback on O2’s network) customers suffered the blackout too.

I’m with GiffGaff and had no trouble with mobile coverage last night, but this morning I had nothing – the world was quiet to me. Problems also started this morning for Twitter user Philippa Waddell (@pilla_uk), who told us:

‘Had full service all day yesterday despite problems reported by others. Today woken up with no service! Two hours in and nothing!’

Outraged tweets pour in to @WhichConvo

O2 has said its doing everything in its power to get the service up and running again, having ‘deployed all possible resources’ and ‘working through the night to restore service as soon as possible’. But the problem is still persisting for many. Chris Coney (@chrisconey) told us:

‘Seems to be getting worse I had signal when I went too bed at 1am, now whole family have lost it. Glorified iPod at present.’

Last night Pete Baggett (@elektromote) tweeted:

‘I’ve had no service since 15:30. If my number’s dialled it comes up as invalid.’

O2 has said that its 2G network is back up and running, with the suggestion that if you turn off your 3G or reset your phone you should be able to access 2G for calls and texts. This interim fix has worked for some of our Twitter followers, but others are still struggling to get their phone back up and running.

I tried everything I could think of, but still couldn’t access any signal, until Philip Wheeler (@PhilWheeler09) shared this tip for Android phones: ‘Go to Settings> Wireless and Networks > Mobile Networks > Network Mode > GSM Only’. Now everything’s fine and dandy, apart from 3G data, which O2 hopes to get fixed later today.

Should O2 offer compensation?

So, should O2 offer compensation for all the trouble caused? Kerry Goding ‏told us that the blackout had affected her husband’s business:


O2’s terms and conditions are likely to cover the company for service outages, especially if it does everything in its power to get the problem fixed in a reasonable amount of time. Until we know more about what has caused the problems we don’t know if the issues will represent a breach of contract. In the meantime, keep a track of any costs incurred from the outage, such as paying for access to a wi-fi hotspot, as these could potentially help you in a future claim.

However, at Which? we want to see O2 offer compensation to those who have been hugely inconvenienced by this outage and have been paying for a service they cannot use.

[UPDATE 18/07/12] – O2, GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile have announced how they’re going to compensate those affected.

O2 and Tesco Mobile have identified the customers who were directly affected and will offer pay monthly customers 10% off their September bill and Pay & Go customers 10% off their first September top-up. All O2 customers (not Tesco Mobile) will also be offered a £10 O2 voucher. All GiffGaff customers, whether they’re affected or not, will be offered 10% off top-up credit, or if they buy a ‘goodbag’ they’ll get the 10% extra as credit to spend next time.


I had problems with my network from about 5.30pm yesterday. My iPhone 3 is actually pretty old, so I thought that it had finally died a death – did a bit of research and seemed like the antenna had become unattached. Sent out various emails telling people as much, and prepared myself for a £500 set back in the Apple store today.

Was therefore mighty relieved to hear it was an O2 issue! Tip for those still having problems – turn your phone and then 3G off and then on again. Fixed the network problem for me.

I agree that O2 should have a process for compensating for loss of service, I can’t imagine how they would calculate how much to pay people back though.
Aside from that, I’m not too upset by the downtime. O2 in my opinion is the best network out there, these kind of problems are extremely rare. All systems crash for one reason or another from time to time. I can’t recall an outage like this from O2 before, so I’d say they’ve done pretty well.

Is it the end of the world if a mobile phone service breaks down occasionally? Most of us are accustomed to being out of network coverage occasionally, anyway.

I assume that emergency calls are still possible, via another network.

S Barua says:
12 July 2012

My network was gone from 3.45pm to 8am (this morning) and from 8am to 10 am I had signals come and go!

I did not get calls from my family outside UK, and I was waiting for a very important message. If anyone thinks “Most of us are accustomed to being out of network coverage occasionally, anyway.” I disagree, I have never been out of network converge for 18 hours!!!!!!!

S Barua

I suppose the the highlands of Scotland is the most obvious area where you will find plenty of places with no network coverage, but visit places in the middle of nowhere in England and you will have the same problem. I’ve got PAYG SIM cards on the various networks to help try to keep in touch. Mine are cheap phones, but friends with posh phones have no more success.

This is rather off-topic, of course.

I cannot be compensated for the Angst caused by being unable to contact my daughter, we did not know of the O2 outage, we speak to her at least once daily. By 10pm last night no one had heard from her and attempts to call were met with silence or a buzzing tone. My son [the last time we were unable to contact someone like this, he & went round and found them lying in a coma covered in blood, and got there just in time to save their life] panicked grabbed the wife, they jumped in his little sports car and shot round to see if she was OK, fortunately the only damage was to his car as he scraped over the multitude of road humps.
My daughter called from her house phone about 5 mins before they arrived telling me about the outage, and that she had just arrived home.
But those few moments for a worrywart like me were sheer hell.

I think there is a lesson here, it’s about putting all your eggs in one basket, yesterday Natwest etc… today O2, we put everything into electronic systems and remove all back ups, so when they fail we in effect cripple ourselves, I was amused by tales of people whose phones stopped working, then wondering why they couldn’t phone in a complaint 🙂

As for compensation I think the warning we have just had [if taken on board] is much needed, forget compo’ and work out how you are going to survive as our systems get ever more complex and prone to failure.

There does seem to be a place for mobile phones that are capable of working on different networks using the same phone number. That would not only cope with network problems but the more common problem of poor network coverage. I’m sure the networks could sort out the financial implications without the customer getting involved.

I have just noticed something about my phone. I use an old Motarola Razor on Orange pay as you go, it also uses the T.Mobile network too. There is an unasked for bonus!

I think you are only expected to make negative comments about mobile networks on this forum, m. 🙂

Apologies, Those evil orange creeps have only gone and put my phone on the T-Mobile network without my permission…grumble ..grumble compensation …grumble …grumble…..litigation carp….carp…..
With all the overcharging, price hikes, network downages i still consider being able to sit on top of a mountain on the other side of the planet and videocall my dear wife at home in the kitchen, hearing her voice and seeing her face, as magical…..this is one of the age old desires of man, along with flight.
So sometime when we knock these things, we need to step back and see exactly what we have achieved…and then have a good moan.

Crazy Which says:
12 July 2012

This is a crazy thread from Which…..there should be no compensation whatsoever, a simple apology is fine.

I’m sick of people who almost hope for things to go wrong to get their greedy hands on compensation (llok at the motor insurance industry, ridden with compensation claims for whiplash – and we’re paying increased premiums for the priviledge).

Stop encouraging people to seek compensation for this non-issue. Ridiculous!

RusLanD says:
14 July 2012

Sorry…??? Where is that sorry???? You better shhh, as some people had plans for a day, and spent theyr time sorting comunication they pay for!!! If I pay, i should get it!!! End off!!!

karl williams says:
12 July 2012

Hi i am with tesco mobile and i am severely dissapointed with o2’s network, Its terrible and no one will give you a answer of what happened! I had to go out and borrow a phone and i called customer service on my land line which is a chargable number for 3 hours and they just put the phone down on me. disgraceful!

James says:
12 July 2012

You could by an iphone 4 for less than that Ben, get real!

D Lawrence says:
13 July 2012

Vodafone was down in bognor regis for 2 weeks from the beginning of july, they had a massive cover up and did not go public, there were hundreds of angry customers ut not onece did it go public to apologise and tell its customers what happened, we just got fobbed off saying it was out phones for the first week, they only admitted the fault 2 days before it came back on!!!! and leat O2 owned up

I would recommend the first class post for people wanting reliable communication.

Ah, the Royal Mail PAYG premium tariff, with good geographical coverage. 🙂

TT says:
17 July 2012

If you want reliability I would steer well clear or Royal Mail! Still no word from the companies about compensation… I didnt think the O2 customer service was bad, I also have a contract with Tesco Mobile, they didnt even mention there was a problem on their website or reply to emails. I had to find out from the BBC!

Wendy says:
18 July 2012

Some of us are still having problems with the network connection dropping out. This is now 6 days after we were told it was fixed. O2 still trying to sort it out.

I’m not sure how anyone could calculate fair compensation. How do you prove you’ve lost money, let alone how much?

On the other hand they should refund contract customers for the time down, and for once they may actually not try to fall back on their T&C.

L R JAMES says:
16 September 2012

We have multiple business contracts with 02 actually on an old tariff at just over £250 a pop per line , 18 month contract.

Wish I was lying but when the network crashed we had just launched a sales push for new product , with calls going thru 40 counties across England where we have one or more Iphone 02 mobile sitting there with a lovely non office based agent to deal with the new business enquiry.

So lets add that so far …

40 counties , each with more than 5 staff with contract at £250 =£50,000 for that month tariff wise.


Then the fact that we had no ability to :

1, Receive a call
2. Make a call
3. Receive a sms
4. Send a sms
5. Put an announcement message up

All inbound callers obviously failed , they could not leave a message , we did not know who they were , we did not know how many even called and encountered the the failure. We did not know there was even a failure , as guess what we could not call our business support teams either.

Google helped us find out there was even a problem , as of course 02 did not let us know.

We payed just over £750 for 4 days worth of radio time , concentrating advertising efforts on a local basis to which we had deployed those locally ” non office based ” agents we have mentioned above to dea with , not mentioning the hard copy print deployment , both newspaper , magazines , the flyers drops , the some 500 to 650 business cards per agent that were dropped off hand by hand in their local areas all directing sales enquiries thru to our lovely shinny iphone enabled sales agents.

All seemed quite simple really.

02 were great compensation wise , they have offered us that 10% of the bill , and some vouchers to spend at their shop.

We are actually a marketing corporation , I wouldn’t say we are so bad at maths : yet we are not accountants which is why I am still unsure if that is so great after all.

The vouchers are valued at £20.00 each , ok we have just over 300 of them ( one for each contract ) but 300 times £20.00 is with my maths £4000.00 give or take.

We worked out that despite not being accounts , if you divided up what we paid out for our sales push that week , by say ” 5 hours ” then that would be just over £652,897.12 of direct costs.

Of course we did not add , nor could we ( maybe as we are not accountants hey ) the cost of all of those incoming calls , maybe as we did not have the ability to look at any of the phones and see a missed call list , a messages a voicemail or access an online account to see suchlike.

Luckily our websites did not crash , the forms there saw just over 9,006 customers mention the fact they have bene trying to get us on the telephone , some 14,914 more customers via email said they same.

So that is what ?…some 23 thousand customers that we know about who could not get thru to us due to the network crash.

hmmm not sure those vouchers really meet go anywhere near the damage we incurred those few days.

I here fact people say it is not too much drama , very well.

We live in a world where old pensioners sit in the cold as they cant afford heating bills , yet bankers steal money , skip a conviction and get a bonus pay off so would it really suprize you that we get some shinny vouchers to ” compensate us “.

We had one website hosting facility go down for 45 minutes 3 years ago : we had to pay out compensation to the companies that used us to host their business web presence with us. AS we went down so did they , they could not process credit card information , hey they pretty much could not do anything.

As it turns out we went bankrupt , everyone from top to bottom went , asset sold towards the proven compensation that we were liable for , and rightly should have paid.

Ok you may say that this is somewhat extreme as 02 should not have to go bust to compensate customers due to the crash. Nor do we advocate that either. My point is not that we are bitter , or even angry at this situation , more so just aware that it seems to be one rule for us and another for them as they definitely have not paid out equal to what damage they have caused , oh no they could not do that as hey , they would go bust also.

Sure mummy Telefonica would not allow that , but hey all of you in South America , Spain will know they are a law unto themselves so what do you expect really.

I look forward to seeing the news , in the hope aI might get to see another banker receiving another 6 figure pay off for stealing money from us all , as it just pleasantly reminds me of the great fair and wonderfully just world that we reside in.

JUst for those whom are curious 02 disconnected us after a legal dispute on this matter , or relieved us of our newly entered into agreement of 18 months per line. Thats great we are free to go to another network now. Only problem is they wont give us the numbers , and all of those business cards , flyers and adverts are stil in circulation with them on.

But hey every story has a happy ending , we can go to the 02 shop and go mad with £20.00 vouchers.
Happily Ever After Hey

ahhhhhhh 🙂

L R JAMES says:
16 September 2012

That was £750 ,000 .00 GBP for the 4 days worth of radio , sorry not £750 .

Makes it hurt even more hey.