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Asda Mobile’s switch to EE ‘disastrous’ for customers

Friday, January 17th 2014 by Hannah Langston

Asda Mobile customers have been hit by serious technical problems and unclear advice from the supermarket following its move to EE’s network.

The supermarket mobile service previously used the Vodafone network to carry its calls, data and texts but announced in September that it was moving to EE. The switch began on October 28 2013, requiring customers to order new SIM cards.

Users have reported a range of problems, including loss of coverage, being unable to unlock their phones after inserting new SIM cards, long delays in their numbers being moved to the new network and poor access to mobile internet. Asda also told customers they should use up any remaining credit before the move, advice the company later reversed.

The supermarket has been forced to apologise for the extent of the problems, which have also brought criticism from government regulator Ofcom.

One user called the customer service “disastrous”, with another describing being “shunted from pillar to post” when seeking help from the provider.

Before the switch took effect, Asda Mobile announced on its website "we aren't able to transfer any credit, so we'd suggest you run down your current credit before joining us on the new network."

After a number of customers followed this advice, the supermarket giant admitted its statement was not clear enough.

The company went back on its original advice, updating its website to say customers with credit remaining on April 30th 2014 would be provided with either a voucher for the new network or an Asda gift card.

This confusion was compounded by the fact that some customers needed to unlock their existing handset so it could accept a new SIM card.

Russ Hedges, an Asda Mobile customer since 2011, waited eight weeks for a new SIM to arrive for his Nokia C1-01. He has since discovered that the handset, which was purchased from Asda Mobile, could cost £30 for an external company to unlock so it can work with his new SIM.

Asda has offered him a replacement phone but, like other customers, Mr Hedges is concerned the handset he’s been offered is inferior to his original device: “I tried phoning today and got shunted from pillar to post.

“£5 phones are the only handsets they’re offering. They told me to ring head office but the phone went dead on the number they gave me."

Loss of mobile coverage

Kathy Tyrrell from Somerset suffered such a loss of coverage with the new network that she is now looking to switch provider: “I get no signal at all now unless I walk out the front door to the bottom of the drive.”

Julia Edwards from Bournemouth was left without mobile internet access for four weeks, despite several attempts to resolve the problem on the phone and in her local branch.

Users have also reported delays in their numbers being transferred, including long-time customer William Davice from Leicestershire, who said: “The customer service is disastrous. Asda have let down their existing customers.”

Telecommunications industry regulator Ofcom said it was “very concerned” to hear about the problems and inconvenience experienced by some Asda Mobile customers.

An Ofcom spokesperson told Cable.co.uk: “We have contacted Asda to ensure that robust measures are in place so that the transfer process works effectively and consumers are migrated without difficulty or undue delay.”

A spokesperson for Asda Mobile told Cable.co.uk: “The vast majority of our customers have had a seamless transition from the old network to the new Asda Mobile network on EE.

“Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of customers transferring to take advantage of the new service, there have been a few technical anomalies.

“This meant some people didn’t have an experience which meets our usual high standards, and we apologise to those customers for any inconvenience caused.”

When asked about the unlocking of handsets, the spokesperson added that “customers with an existing phone, bought from Asda for the Asda Mobile network, can get a free unlocking code from us – it won’t cost them anything to unlock their phone from the old Asda Mobile network to the new one.”

Despite the apology, Asda Mobile may find it has to compensate customers who have been inconvenienced.

Speaking exclusively to Cable.co.uk, the Ofcom spokesperson said: “We will also be discussing the need for appropriate customer redress with Asda where the transfer process has not worked as it should.

“If customers are dissatisfied they should complain to Asda Mobile customer services and follow its normal complaints procedure.

“If they haven’t reached a resolution with Asda Mobile after eight weeks (or earlier if a stalemate is reached), consumers have the right to take their case to an Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme. Consumers can also register their complaint with Ofcom.”

Comments (187)

Alan T
11th July 2016

Alison Dowson: if you know your IMEI, your phone make and model and your current provider (on the SIM card that used to work) you can get an unlock code very cheaply from a well known Auction website. Mine cost me 99p, though it may be slightly dearer now, and worked first time on my Vodafone phone. Search your phone make and model on the Auction site and it will tell you how to find your IMEI. For less than £1.50 it's worth trying even if it doesn't work.

Alison Dowson
5th July 2016

I had a spare phone from Asda, a Nokia C1-01 used occasionally, plenty of credit on it. I tried to reuse it, but it failed to work. Customer Services told me that my number had been taken back & the credit lost as it had not been used recently. However, it was normal for me to use it only occasionally before without a problem. I was told to buy a new Sim & add some credit. I put a new Sim in but it wouldn't work. Rang Customer services again and was told this was due to the network change to EE from Vodaphone. Neither is able to unlock my phone, which I now want to use. No where seems to be able to unlock it. Can anybody help here?

Mrs Doreen Bateman
21st February 2015

My phone was locked have just paid to have it unlocked and it still is not working what should I do

3rd February 2015

I also lost £17 didn't even reply to my E. Mail's. needless to say I changed to talktalk and they gave me a new phone, £5 a month contract no problems. I wonder How much ASDA made out of unpaid refunds. There are people in nick for less than they have done. I don't go in ASDA any more so up your V V

Alan T
3rd February 2015

When I switched to EE there was something on the Asda Mobile site which sent a message to my phone, updating the phone's Internet settings. I've since changed to a Sainsburys sim card, which my Vodafone-locked phone accepts. The settings on your phone have to be 100% correct (99% won't work) and this can usually be done via a message sent from the techie staff. What's worrying now is that BT are considering taking over EE. If that happens who knows how many days it'll take to get someone in India to help you.

3rd February 2015

@Tricia NB. It is probable that your APN setting is wrong. I am not sure but this probably changed when they moved from Vodaphone to EE. What the settings should be depends on your phone, but if you call the ASDA helpline they should be able to download the appropriate APN setting via SMS to your phone, or at least help you set it up. It may take a few attempts to get ASDA helpline to realise what you are talking about, tell them you want the APN settings updated and insist on escalation to the tech support if they can not help. Good luck

Tricia NB
2nd February 2015

I moved over to the EE network last April and have not been able to access the internet or send picture messages since the change over. I tried telephoning ASDA many times and even went into a store but I am still in the same situation and cannot access the internet nor send picture messages.

The error message displayed is Access Point Unavailable.

Can anyone help please.

Jan P
2nd January 2015

I have had exactly the same problem as H Tarran. I did not realise that this might be a network issue, I just assumed that it was an issue with my handset. The worse thing is that when it happened to me for the first time I did not think to turn the 'phone off and take the SIM out. This meant that I was unable to contact someone I was supposed to be meeting and spent four hours trying to find them. It did not help that I could not find a public call box that was actually working!

H tarran
26th December 2014

Also having lots of problems with as a since we took over. Often phone shows emergency only and only by taking sim card out and restarting phone does this sometime cure it. Any advice? Or do I have to change to sainsburie??. H

20th August 2014

I have never received my new sim card have emailed asda three times and no reply. they still owe me about £17. I changed to Talktalk and guess what they GAVE me a new phone. Up yours asda you ripped a lot of people off and made a fortune doing it.

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