How do I resolve a dispute with my mobile network operator?

How do I resolve a dispute with my mobile network operator?

Mobile phones are more likely to experience faults than other domestic electrical appliances, since they lead hard lives of near-constant use.

Sometimes, issues are remedied by an overnight software update, or by reinstalling a troublesome app.

Human error also plays a part – we all know someone who’s dropped, lost, submerged and generally neglected their ‘beloved’ smartphone.

But what happens when problems are due to the network operator?

Common causes of mobile disputes

Mobile disputes with network providers may arise for a variety of reasons, and these are among the most common:

  • A weak signal. This leads to missed calls, and an inability to load content for webpages or apps. Moving to a new house or office often reveals signal issues
  • SIM card problems. Regular error messages, dropped calls or glitchy software might indicate a fault with the SIM card or its mounting
  • Poor customer service. This could range from incorrect billing to pushy and persistent sales calls
  • Excessive charges. Mobile companies ought to play nicely when it comes to accidentally dialled numbers or roaming charges, but they’re not always reasonable.

Resolving a mobile dispute yourself

Regardless of the problems being experienced, it’s important to be respectful in any dealings with your service provider.

The complaint might end up with a dispute resolution service (outlined in more detail below), at which point snide emails or expletive-filled texts won’t help your cause.

Keep detailed notes of each issue as it arises, and be honest – the operator will have their own records that may disprove any exaggerated claims.

Instead of relying on tweets and web chat, direct complaints to the head office in writing, enclosing copies of previous correspondence.

In a few sentences, summarise why the issue is causing so much frustration or inconvenience.

Make reasonable suggestions for compensation or redress – often as simple as resolving the original problem – but don’t get carried away.

Threatening to defect to another network ought to demonstrate your frustration, providing you’re willing to follow through on this nuclear option.

Mobile dispute resolution services

If the network operator can’t or won’t solve any issues after a reasonable period of time, Ofcom-approved dispute resolution services represent the logical next step.

Every operator must be registered with either the Ombudsman Services: Communications, or the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme.

Both agencies act as middlemen in a dispute, accepting evidence from both sides before reaching an impartial decision a few weeks later.

If the service finds in your favour, the network provider is legally obliged to fix identified problems, pay compensation or take other restorative action.

Below, we’ve identified which adjudicator oversees each network listed on SIMOnly Deals:

  • BT: Ombudsman
  • EE: Ombudsman
  • FreedomPop: Ombudsman
  • giffgaff: Ombudsman
  • iD Mobile: Ombudsman
  • Lebara: Ombudsman
  • O2: Ombudsman
  • Plusnet: CISAS
  • Sky: Ombudsman
  • Tesco Mobile: Ombudsman
  • Three: Ombudsman
  • Virgin Media: CISAS
  • Vodafone: Ombudsman
  • Voxi: Ombudsman.
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