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Customers petition Ofcom for EE mobile refund

Friday, November 7th 2014 by Ellen Branagh

Hundreds of angry EE customers from Shropshire have signed a petition calling for the firm to reimburse them for a mobile service that they say is “largely unavailable” and “not fit for purpose”.

Some 398 people have signed the petition urging Ofcom to instruct EE to pay users’ mobile charges back because they cannot make reasonable access to it and have not been able to despite “many many previous complaints over a protracted period”.

Mike Melaniphy, who set up the petition on online platform Change.org, he had decided “enough is enough” after struggling for months with bad, sometimes non-existent, signal.

Speaking to Cable.co.uk, the 65-year-old, from Bridgnorth, said: “It’s just in and out continually, or has no signal at all.

“It works on one end of my sofa, but not at the other.”

His decision to start a petition was sparked by the news that EE would buy 58 Phones4U stores when the firm went into administration.

“I was trying to get on the phone to phone someone, and I couldn’t get any signal.

“Then I turn on my computer and it says EE have made an offer for 55 Phones4U stores. I was livid.

“I thought, so they get another 55 stores to sell phones to people with contracts that they aren’t going to fulfil?

“How many more people are they going to take money off for a service that isn’t fit for purpose?”

He started the petition, sharing it on social media sites across Shropshire including towns like Telford, Broseley, Bridgnorth, and Shrewsbury.

“The upshot was over 370 people got in touch to say that basically the service was crap.

“At best it was in and out and at other times they couldn’t get a line or couldn’t get any bars or signal for days on end.

“People were stopping me in the street and saying, ‘bloody good luck with that’, they were saying they had phoned up and were told EE had done the checks and there was nothing wrong.

“They was a woman who signed the petition who lives in Bridgnorth, she fell and badly twisted her ankle and couldn’t get a signal to get help.

“That kind of thing is just not on, not in 2014.”

Mr Melaniphy said he had complained to EE about his own problems and been given three months free line rental and offered a signal booster for his home.

But he said that wasn’t the point: “My view was, and still is, that for at least 12 months now people have been paying for a service that is not fit for purpose.

“If you’re paying a direct debit for your gas and electricity you don’t expect them to say, ‘you might have a bit on Wednesday, you might get some on Thursday or Friday but we can’t say’. It’s wrong.

“Bridgnorth has got a population of 16,000 people, it’s not a waterhole in the desert.

“My feeling is people have been paying for over a year and it might get EE off their arses to do something if we start saying, ‘we want some money back’.

“They wouldn’t like it if 400 people turned up at their offices to say, ‘I want my money back, I’m not leaving until you give it to me’.”

He added: “I do feel that recompense is in order.

“These people make millions of pounds and they can go out and buy 50-odd shops just like that, and they can’t provide a service in Shropshire that is fit for purpose.

“I think for consumers they should address the fact that they have been taking money off people for a service they are not providing.

“When I renewed a contract with Orange for my broadband I was able to upgrade to fibre optic.

“They guarantee a minimum of 30Mbps, if it falls below that you get a refund. If they can do that sort of thing they should do the same thing on mobile service.

“I think they should address the fact that they are culpable.

“I think the problem is it’s an industry that has grown up quickly and the regulation tends to follow it.

“A big multinational company can’t turn round and say, ‘well we’re improving matters, we’re looking for somewhere to put another mast’.

“They can’t be saying that for three months, probably more, and say, ‘well you keep on paying in the meantime’.

“I just feel that enough is enough.

“By the minimum, if people are doing £30/month, if you’ve got nearly 400 people you have got £12,000 going into EE and people are saying, ‘I’m not getting the service’.

“That’s an absolute minimum, multiply it again by 12, it’s nearly £150,000.

“It’s almost like a levy rather than a subscription.”

“When you look over the last four years, people have been told, ‘austerity, austerity, no pay increases etc’.

“So who has £30 or £40 a month to throw away on a service that you’re not getting? That is unscrupulous.”

Among the 398 signatories of the petition is Kate Phillips, from Telford, who wrote: “I have complained multiple times to EE about a lack of internet signal in Shropshire.

“They blamed my phone settings and my failure to upgrade to the latest iOS version!

“Tired of calling to hear a strong (sic) of excuses. I wholeheartedly support this petition as I have been paying a large amount of money for two years for a very poor service.”

An Ofcom spokesperson said: “Improving mobile coverage and quality of service for consumers is an important area for Ofcom.

“That is why we are leading or supporting initiatives to improve mobile coverage and service as part of a five point plan.

“This included designing the 4G auction in a way that will deliver near universal 4G mobile broadband coverage within the next few years.

“Ofcom is also supporting the Government in its Mobile Infrastructure Project.

“We are also helping consumers to make the right choices by providing them with reliable and transparent information about mobile quality of service, by operator.

“If consumers are experiencing issues with mobile coverage, we would encourage them to speak to their operator in the first instance.

“If a consumer is unable to resolve the complaint with the operator, they have a right to have the matter considered by the appropriate Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme.

“The Scheme will look at the specific facts and evidence of the case available before making a final judgement.”

An EE spokesperson said: “We have launched an investigation into the signal around Shropshire, and recently met with local councillors and the community as part of our efforts to help improve the service in the area.”

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