On 11 Dec, bad weather somewhere in the Argyll and Bute island mobile phone network, resulted in loss of Vodafone and O2 service on Tiree (and other islands).
Now, those of us who live on small remote islands spend our lives at the mercy of the weather. It does not surprise us one jot when things break. That’s what wind often does.
Spectacular incompetence by major companies surprises no-one in this day and age either, but we are truly reaching the end of our tether here in Tiree.
Since the fault developed, Vodafone and O2, who share a mast, have both been suggesting to those who called that:
a) there is nothing wrong and we are making it up
b) there may be a problem, but they are not sure
c) there is a problem but they don’t know when it will be fixed.
For the best part of a fortnight, we have had a variety of these responses.
O2 has helpfully been recommending their TuGo service, blissfully unaware it would seem, that an SMS message is required to activate the service. Could the person in question move to an area with a signal? The customer support person actually suggested that to a local customer.
“I spoke to an O2 online person yesterday. They were struggling to believe me told me to download an app to help me get signal , I told then I had no signal to receive the pin code via SMS to register the app, their response . Can you move to an area that has signal? What not even one bar? I told them countless times that I lived on an island and the whole island was down. I gave up in the end.”
Vodafone have been telling me for the last two years that I have perfect signal at my property. I have invited them over to test it themselves, but so far no-one has turned up. I only get enough signal upstairs to send the ocasional text message. However, for local businesses, carers, nursing staff and many others, the lack of a mobile signal is detrimental in the extreme.
Local businesses in particular are struggling.
One local business owner told me “We don’t have a landline so this has been a really big issue for us. We are reliant on these communications to run a business here as we operate across the region and on the mainland and frequently we travel about to attend meetings and visit sites etc and need to be accessible. For clients/suppliers/other professionals not to be able to hear what we’re saying and losing that capacity to resolve queries in a quick chat on the phone causes big issues. What’s more not picking up voicemail messages and receiving calls harms the rapport we have built up with the people we deal with and our reputation as a company.”
A local builder commented, “We went from one landline and 5 mobiles to one landline. Very hard when you are trying to arrange materials, emergency call outs and general business. It’s ridiculous.”
The local community here has also lost money as the community turbine, Tilley developed a fault. The turbine is linked to mainland engineers through the mobile signal. It proved a problem last week when Enercon couldn’t dial in to diagnose the issue – not good when a day’s lost production can cost the Community £3,000 a day in winter.
O2 seem to have been marginally more helpful than Vodafone, calling at least on customer earlier this week to tell them that the fault is in Mull.
However, just two hours ago, a Tiree resident called Vodafone. ” I’ve just been speaking to a guy from Vodafone who has said it’s not showing up on the coverage map as a problem.”
Left hand, right hand, piss up and brewery spring to mind.
We may be a very small part of the UK, but we pay our bills like everyone else. Our mast is low powered and poorly serviced anyway but we don’t get a discount, nor are we given signal boosters. It has now taken a fortnight for anything to get done about this. I was asked to comment about it on BBC Radio nan Gaidheal, and as part of the research, the BBC were given a statement from Vodafone. I got a copy. As of 7pm last night, I think this was brand new information to all Vodafone customers on Tiree. Funny how they can manage to give the BBC a statement, but not provide information of value to their paying customers.
Here is the statement, I care not whether I am supposed to publish it or not, Vodafone customer service is beyond a joke at this point.
We’re sorry our customers locally have been experiencing signal problems recently. A local mast developed a transmission fault on 11 December and as this is a critical site, it’s had a knock-on effect on other masts including the Isle of Tiree mast which serves the Isle of Coll. The fault was caused by a failure of the BT link which connects local services into the rest of the network and required a BT engineer to attend sites on both the Isle of Islay and the Isle of Mull. Challenging weather conditions and the need for an all-terrain vehicle caused delays but BT engineers were able to get on site yesterday (21 December). So far they have failed to resolve the issue but we are working with BT to get to the root of the problem.
I’ve heard similar in playgrounds, “It wasn’t me, Miss, it was him…” Needed an all terrain vehicle? Challenging weather? The last week has been spot-on weather-wise, and please do not insult our intelligence by suggesting no-one on Islay or Mull has a Landrover. Critical site? You could have fooled me.
Now BT is in the mix tooI look forward to a speedy resolution… *cackles*
Edit: I just called Vodafone, but their technical department has gone home.