Wednesday, February 26, 2020

How to Complain About Your SIM Only Mobile Phone Service

Mobile phone networks operate under a highly regulated framework in the UK and to a large degree provide a good service to customers. However, if you have received service from a mobile phone network that you deem to be unsatisfactory you have the right to complain. Complaints relating to SIM only contracts sometimes relate to improper billing, lack of network reception, terms of the contract or general complaints about poor service in general. These issues are not specific to SIM only contracts, they affect the whole mobile phone industry in general, however, if you are unfortunate enough to experience these types of problems we are here to inform you how to resolve these types of complaints.

Your Early Cancellation of The Mobile Phone Contract

A common complaint from mobile phone users that are on fixed contracts is that for whatever reason, they wish to be released from a fixed term contract early. This may be due to financial difficulties or simply that the current deal is not competitive anymore and the consumer wishes to go elsewhere. In these circumstances, if a user wishes to be released from a contract, for example, 9 months into an 18 month contract, the mobile phone network has no obligation to cancel the contract on their request. They are entitled to enforce the customer to pay the remainder of the fees upfront for the full term of the contract if they want to terminate the contract early. In some very rare circumstances it has been known for networks to release users from lengthy contracts upon extreme extenuating circumstances, but this is very rare.

To prevent problems regarding being tied into a long term contract it is advisable to take out a 30 day SIM only contract as these type of mobile phone contracts operate on a rolling 30 day notice period. If you wish to continue with the contract you simply continue to pay the bill. If you want to cancel the contract, you would need to give 30 days’ notice and then the network would cancel your service with no extra fees due.

Cancellation Due To Poor Network Reception

At the moment, the mobile phone networks aren’t under any obligation to cancel a monthly contract if a consumer claims that they are unable to receive acceptable mobile phone reception in their area. This can obviously be hugely frustrating to be tied into a mobile phone contract when effectively you are unable to use your mobile phone because the network reception is poor or even non-existent. Importantly this will also be an issue if you previously had excellent reception, but you moved house and subsequently are unable get any reception in the new area you have moved to.

There are a couple of points to note that can help consumers from getting into this awkward scenario. Firstly, all mobile phone networks have online signal checkers that will gauge the strength of their mobile network signal in any given area in the UK. Usually, you will need to input a postcode, or location and you will be presented with a grid of the area showing signal strength. See our mobile phone coverage checker article for details. By using the network signal checkers you will hopefully be saved from taking out a contract with a network in a poor signal area in the first place. Secondly, by taking out a cheap 30 day SIM only tariff, if you were having problems with the network reception you would be able to cancel within 30 days, therefore, you wouldn’t be tied in for 12 or 18 months.

Mobile Phone Networks That Continue To Bill After Cancellation

If you are in a mobile phone monthly contract you will need to give at least a mandatory 30 days cancellation notice period and as such the network is allowed to bill you for this notice period, however, if you believe that your network has continued to take payments from you unduly, you have the right to complain.

The first action should be to contact the network directly to try to resolve the issue. If you do this by phone, follow this up with a formal letter containing the contents of the conversation and what was agreed during the call.

You should also contact your bank or credit card company and request that they stop sending payments to the mobile phone network.

If your complaint is still ongoing, write to the mobile phone network again stating that if any payments taken in error are not refunded you would like a letter from the network stating that the complaint is in “deadlock” so that you can take up the case with the relevant regulatory body which will be Otelo or Cisas (depending on which body the network provider belongs to).

If you receive a deadlock letter from the network you can take the complaint straight to Otelo or Cisas. If no deadlock letter is forthcoming you will need to wait for a default 8 week period to elapse from the time that you originally complained before you can go to Otelo or Cisas.

Details on how you can complain to Otelo or Cisas can be found in the relevant sections on the Otelo or Cisas websites.

General Mobile Phone Network Complaints Procedure

As a first port of call you should always contact your network provider with any complaints about their service that you may have and allow them the opportunity to respond and/or remedy the problem. If they are unwilling or unable to assist you with your complaint you are able to escalate the complaint to either of the mobile phone regulatory bodies Otelo or Cisas. All mobile network providers must belong to one of the telecoms dispute resolution schemes (either Otelo or Cisas) so your complaint should be directed to the relevant body for your network.

You must wait a period of 8 weeks from the time that you made your official complaint to the network before you approach Otelo or Cisas. Alternatively, if you have received a “deadlock” letter from the network as described in the “Mobile Phone Networks That Continue To Bill After Cancellation” section you can contact Otelo or Cisas with your complaint earlier.

Otelo or Cisas should be able to help you to achieve the following –

  • Force the network to apologise and/or explain its actions to you
  • Make the network give you a service or product that should be due
  • Ensure that you receive compensation from the network for losses caused by the complaint