Doubts and confusion after Vodafone “fix” Norfolk signal problems


- Credit: PA

Bewilderment and frustration have followed Vodafone's announcement that the company has fixed persistent mobile phone signal problems in Norfolk.

Vodafone claimed yesterday morning to have identified a problem affecting angry users across a wide swathe of the county over the Easter period, and to have corrected the fault by 9pm on Wednesday.

But north Norfolk customers in Southrepps, Stibbard, Sheringham, and Fulmodeston were still reporting difficulties yesterday.

At 4.30pm a Vodafone spokesman appeared to alter the timing of the fix, telling the EDP that the fault had been repaired 'before 4pm today.'

And one dissatisfied Upper Sheringham user, Diane Blazier, received an email from the 'Vodafone Directors Office' just before 1pm yesterday which included the sentence: 'I can only apologise if you have been told conflicting information, there is as of yet no timeframe for a fix, if you have been told anything other than this then I do apologise.'

Now Vodafone has told the EDP that Norfolk campaigns against phone masts have not helped the problem.

The latest batch of confusing messages from Vodafone comes as more than 870 Norfolk users have registered their exasperation with the company by signing a protest petition organised by the North Norfolk Labour Party.

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Comments by those who have signed suggest that Vodafone's customer relations in the county are nearing meltdown.

Chris Mason, from Dereham, says: 'I pay £30 a month to Vodafone and the signal I receive on my phone is non existent. Where else would a company be able to charge for a service they are unable to provide?'

Beccy Matthews, Aylsham: 'I have had nothing but problems with the signal and above all the customer service has been appalling over the last seven months.' Stephen Harvey, Little Snoring: 'Many parts of the day I have no signal from my home where we do B&B and self-catering barns and need a regular service which I pay for.'

Siobhan Kent, Taverham: 'Never have signal, constantly moving around the house to find some. Even when I do, it's gone as quick as I blink and then I'll have signal in the place I didn't before.'

Allan Pink, Little Ryburgh: 'No Vodafone reception is available in my home village. I would suggest that a new mast need siting in this area.'

Chris Wright, North Walsham: 'As a business user with 25 phones on the Vodafone network we are finding it increasingly difficult to justify our loyalty to what used to be the best coverage in the area.'

Ben Woodcock, 25, who lives in Southrepps, near Cromer, where he is a parish councillor, said he got up yesterday pleased at the news that Vodafone had fixed the problem. 'But I still couldn't get any signal at all,' said Mr Woodcock.

Later in the afternoon his phone registered one bar while he was upstairs. He said family in Fulmodeston and Stibbard had also reported that they were only getting an intermittent signal yesterday.

A Vodafone spokesman apologised to customers and said that the problem had been caused by a failed link where the chain of local radio base station sites joined the network.

She said they would need specific post codes to check why some customers were still not receiving a service yesterday and that, as with all technology, it was impossible to guarantee a fault-free service.

'We know how frustrating this is but we have been working hard to get these sites up and running as soon as we could,' she added. 'We are concerned – it's in our interest, as well as our customers' interest, to make sure our services are available. We understand that, as in other rural areas, coverage could be better.

'It's sometimes difficult to get planning permission to build masts – there have been press campaigns in the past to 'put masts on hold' in Norfolk – but we are hoping that our network sharing agreement with O2 will bring improvements to more rural areas over time.'