Vodafone mast out of action for 13 days: no signal in Grampound
Vodafone users in Grampound will know that the mobile phone mast just east of the village has been out of action since Saturday 29 December. Trying to complain to Vodafone about it is difficult because, for days, their customer relations staff would not accept that it is a problem with their mast and just tried to get users to change setttings on the phone or have a new SIM card. Very frustrating.
However, you can email the managing director directly via this link: Guy Laurence, Vodafone. The only way that he will take any action will be if as many people as possible in Grampound email him and tell him that his service is bad. Quote mast no. 10703 (that is the ID number of this particular mast). Please do so ASAP so that he gets the message. You will get an auto reply email acknowledging your message. Please forward a copy of that to me at email@example.com so that I can keep track of how many people have complained - thank you!
UPDATE MONDAY 7 JANUARY: Mast still out of action. At least 20 residents of Grampound have emailed the managing director (thank you!). I have written a detailed long letter to him today asking for resolution of the problem and a formal apology.
UPDATE TUESDAY 8 JANUARY: Mast still out of action. By now, at least 30 residents have emailed the Vodafone chief executive. I went into Truro this morning and stood outside the Vodafone shop handing out a leaflet advising people not to use Vodafone, see below. The manager of the shop came out to tell me that she had received an emailed update that they are "waiting on specialist climbing equipment". Whilst I was there, I was interviewed by Radio Cornwall and by the West Briton - should be a photo of me looking glum outside the Vodafone shop in this week's paper. When I got home, I found an email from Vodafone Directors' Office that said:"Please be assured that we are aware of the issue with the mast and are currently awaiting the necessary parts to get this issue resolved, unfortunately there is no timescale available at present." So is it parts or a ladder that they are waiting on? Unbelievable!
I have emailed Stephen Gilbert M.P. and he will be sending a letter to the Vodafone managing director. This will not produce an immediate solution, but it might at least push the issue higher up the food chain in Vodafone.
UPDATE WEDNESDAY 9 JANUARY: Manager of the Vodafone shop told me that the climbing equipment was a "monopole ladder" which was coming from Nottingham and was due to be here this morning at 8 a.m. Sure enough, there was an engineer on site today. He was a sub-contractor who was not allowed to tell me what he was doing and whether we would get our signal back because their contract with Vodafone bars them from telling anybody anything about what is going on!! However, by the end of the day, the signal was still not on.
CLAIMING FROM VODAFONE: At least 3 residents of Grampound so far have been given a month's rental free or a cash refund where they have a pay-as-you-go arrangement. Another resident has been provided by Vodafone, free of charge, a Sure Signal box. This is a box that plugs into your broadband line and then provides a signal via the broadband line. The resident tells me that it is installed and is working. It works by acting essentially as a mini mobile mast so that the normal signal from the Vodafone mast is not necessary. It is designed for use by customers in areas where the signal is generally poor. It is sold normally for £100 (one-off cost) but this resident was given it for free. My suggestion is that every Vodafone customer in Grampound should demand either at least a free month's rental, or to be provided with the Sure Signal box. For details of the equipment, see Sure Signal on the Vodafone website (where you can check that your particular phone would be compatible with the device), or Sure Signal review for an independent review of its performance.
UPDATE THURSDAY 10 JANUARY: As you will all know, the mast is still not back in action. I have emailed the Vodafone Directors Office again this morning. Starting to tear my hair out!
FURTHER UPDATE THURSDAY 10 JANUARY: Looks like progress - a four-wheel drive vehicle is parked by the mast on the verge and a man with a Vodafone badged sweat shirt is busy with a laptop next to the control box by the mast. The good news is that he does not appear to be sworn to an oath of secrecy. He is the first person representing Vodafone with whom I have had a sensible conversation in the past 12 days. He is open and honest and explains everything that he can to me. He tells me that he got a ticket to come to this mast at 2.10 p.m. today (!) and he has been asked to take readings from the control box and communicate them to Vodafone. So for 15 minutes he was reading out lots of data to them. And the conclusion is: the mast is not receiving the microwave link from BT Mitchell; but he cannot tell if this is because BT Mitchell is not transmitting properly or the Grampound mast is not receiving properly. So, after 12 days, Vodafone still do not know what the problem is!! Incidentally, this engineer is not a Vodafone employee but works for Ericsson to whom Vodafone outsourced these jobs a few years ago.
At 7 p.m., I received the following email from the Vodafone Directors' Office: "We have received confirmation that BT will provide access to Telent at site 328 tomorrow, 11:00am. One of our transmission engineers will be meeting the rigging team on site with all of the required hardware needed to repair the fault. We also have an engineer on site at 10703 at present to undertake a check of the site, although this has already had the hardware replaced this is to ensure that no further issues are present in preparation to tomorrow's visit." So, maybe, finally they are beginning to take this problem seriously. Fingers crossed for Friday morning.
FRIDAY 11 JANUARY: Signal back on at 11.30 a.m. I would still advise everybody who has been affected by this failure to claim compensation. If you feel that it is not dealt with properly, please let me know.
I spoke to customer service this afternoon and persuaded them to give me a month's rental back (it is only a modest £15 per month).
West Briton 10 January