Having a poor mobile phone signal in your home - or having none at all - when you're forking out for a monthly contract can be really frustrating.
If your mobile signal is poor at home, you have rights under the Supply of Goods and Services Act, and several options to seek resolution.
The answer is true, read on to find out more.
Consistently poor mobile signal
If the problem relates to a loss in service, your remedy will depend on whether you have no mobile signal in your area or just at home.
If there’s no mobile signal in your whole area and you’re constantly losing service, you may be able to terminate the contract for non-performance.
Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, a service provider must provide the contracted service with reasonable care and skill.
Breach of agreement
If your provider doesn't provide the service with what is deemed to be reasonable care and skill, then you’re entitled to terminate your mobile contract for breach of that agreement with no financial penalty.
However, you must check the contract first as some terms and conditions make allowances for the loss of service.
If the phone simply doesn’t work in your house but works outside, then the problem could be something within your home causing a poor mobile signal.
Alternatively, it could be that the signal isn’t sufficiently strong enough, so you should ask your provider to carry out a signal strength check.
Short losses of mobile service
Even if the provider’s contract says it’s not responsible for short losses of service, if the service losses themselves are constant you might still be able to terminate the contract.
Make sure you record when and for how long you’ve sustained these losses and present these to the provider to support your case.
It's worth bearing in mind though, that cases such as these are not straightforward so you may need to be persistent.
- Check your phone contract as some terms and conditions make allowances for loss of service
- If you’re cancelling a contract due to poor mobile signal, you must be clear about this when speaking to your provider to avoid a termination fee
- If your complaint is not resolved within eight weeks, you can request a ‘deadlock’ letter to take your complaint to one of the following Ombudsman Services – either Communications or Cisas
Beware contract termination fees
Also, you need to be careful when demanding a cancellation of your mobile contract due to loss of service.
We’ve heard of cases where customers have called a provider to request a loss of service cancellation, only to be told they must pay a termination fee.
This is not the case if you’re terminating the contract due receiving a poor signal. So, the key point here is that you must be clear to say you’re terminating the contract due to a sustained and prolonged lack of service.
Resolving a dispute with your provider
If you’re not happy with the way in which your complaint has been handled, you can take it to one of two dispute resolution schemes – Ombudsman Services: Communications or Cisas.
These are independent complaints schemes that will consider a complaint about a mobile phone service provider if you haven’t been able to resolve your problem directly.
But you must give your mobile provider a chance to resolve your complaint first. If it’s not resolved within eight weeks you should request a ‘deadlock’ letter, or you can use this letter template to send a letter of deadlock to your mobile phone provider.
You will then be able to take your mobile complaint to the Ombudsman Services: Communications or Cisas (whichever one your mobile service provider belongs to).
The Ombudsman Services: Communications and Cisas deal only with complaints about mobile service providers (the company you pay for your mobile service) and not about other mobile phone retailers that ‘resell’ mobile contracts but don’t operate their own service (for example, Phones4U).
If you wanted to take your complaint to the Ombudsman Services: Communications, our step-by-step guide can help.
The power of dispute resolution
Both schemes can make your mobile phone service provider:
• Apologise and/or explain its actions;
• give you a product or service;
• pay you up to £5,000 compensation for any loss you can prove you have suffered.
These dispute resolution services can also recommend a mobile service provider changes its policies or procedures.
You can also contact Ofcom, the telecoms regulator. It cannot help with your individual problem, but it’s good to let it know if you have a major problem with a company.
Ofcom monitors all consumer issues and can investigate a company if it finds serious ongoing problems with a particular provider.
Losing 4G signal
4G allows your phone to load webpages almost instantaneously and stream or download music faster than 3G.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom estimates that 4G download speeds are around five to seven times those available through the 3G networks.
To get 4G you need to have a 4G - compatible phone, a 4G tariff and live in an area with a 4G signal.
However, 4G is still very patchy, and although 4G phones will work on the existing 3G network, you'll be restricted to slower data speeds when doing this - you'll pay 4G prices for 3G speeds.
4G compatible location
If you're looking to get 4G, it is important to check whether your area is compatible first.
Also check the terms and conditions of your contract, as most T&Cs will make allowance for the loss of any service.
If you sign up to a 4G contract, it's very unlikely that you will be able to terminate the contract if you find that you cannot get 4G speeds.
Mobile phone providers also don't provide theoretical speeds in their contracts like broadband contracts might - of up to 100Mbps for example - because their speed you get can be affected by signal strength, how many other people nearby are using 4G, and whether you're inside or outside.