Army officer phonesick on tour

#1
From The TimesJune 12, 2008

Army officer phonesick on tour Rebecca O'Connor, Troubleshooter
I am an army officer serving in Afghanistan. Before starting my tour of duty in April I asked 3, my mobile phone provider, to cancel my contract.

Unfortunately, it stated that this was not possible and that I would need to pay my monthly fee, £20, for each month I was away, even though my phone would remain in the UK. It suggested that I transfer my phone to somebody else temporarily, but I did not want to do this. The phone remains in the UK, unused.

You would think that for anyone going off to fight in a warzone, there might be some special dispensation from the tie-ins on phone contracts. Not so. After a call from Troubleshooter, 3 agreed to credit your account with £60 as a gesture of goodwill, but it said that it cannot suspend an account for those sent overseas and cancelling would still entail a charge.

This struck Troubleshooter as unfair in the case of servicemen and women on tour, so she called the Ministry of Defence, expecting it to rally round. Instead, it said that anyone going away on tour receives a pay top-up designed to compensate for such inconveniences. There is also an operational allowance of about £2,500 for a six-month tour.

However, for a soldier on a basic salary of £16,227, these top-ups are barely enough to cover outgoings, never mind payments for services that they cannot use. Your case highlights yet another argument for army pay rises.
Any comments?
 
#2
Your case highlights yet another argument for army pay rises.
Any comments?
No it doesn't, it highlights the Mobile Telco's taking the piss. 3 will lose that customer. At the very least, you'd expect something to be done with line rental.

The first mobile telco that steps in with "Reduced line rental for tour duration" is going to pick up a shedload of customers.

Maybe we need a directory of UK companies that actually support the troops any way they can.

Sorry, in a proper cranky mood today.
 
#4
The statement from Mod just shows how little they care for the welfare of service personnel. One would have thought that a few words in the right place would have got a dispensation for service personnel; on operational tours. I agree with PTO there is good business and publicity for the company who wishes to do a deal for the armed forces.
 
#5
Point one, an inconsistency:

First paragaph - Army Officer
Last paragraph - a soldier's basic pay is £16,227

Which is it? - you cant use differing pay scales to back up an argument.

Second point - the reality:

£2500 - £120 + £60 = £2360 = £60 out of pocket, hardly important enough to involve the national media, there are other more important financial battles soldiers need to win (CILOCT, PAYD, pay etc)

Third point:

Stop whinging and get PAYD next time.
 
#6
Oh, do stop it.

It is just exactly this sort of pathetic whining that will lose public support. I suggest that the Officer in question should think carefully in future before entering into a contract of this nature.
 
#7
You would think that for anyone going off to fight in a warzone, there might be some special dispensation from the tie-ins on phone contracts.
Would you? Why?

Personally speaking, if I sign a contract for a year I know full well that that's me obliged for a year. If I know in advance that my job may (very likely will) take me beyond the reach of the service provider, I'd either a) shut up and pay the money or b) not enter into it in the first place. Nobody forces you to take out a phone contract. Caveat emptor. Whining to the papers because you can't plan your own life properly is pretty feeble and damned undignified, to boot.

I suspect the Times is out for mischief, scenting Labour blood in the water.
 
#8
Should you be allowed Mortgage holidays, and refund of all normal bills when you are away?

A mobile phone tariff can be dropped to the minimum, usually at one tariff a month increments.

When you take out a monthly mobile contract, the handset is usually given free. Do you actually believe they are free? Did the officer offer the network payment for the handset in return?

If you borrow 3k from Lloyds over 18 months and you go on tour after 11 months should you be excused repayments if you are serving elsewhere?

Whinges and whines like this will do nothing other than make squaddies look like throbbers
 
#9
Most of the networks off the facility of paying the going rate for your phone, then paying for your calls without line rental.

As an officer who may end up in charge of men, you'd have thought he / she might have looked into the options before entering into a binding agreement.
 
B

Biscuits_AB

Guest
#10
minister_doh_nut said:
Should you be allowed Mortgage holidays, and refund of all normal bills when you are away?

A mobile phone tariff can be dropped to the minimum, usually at one tariff a month increments.

When you take out a monthly mobile contract, the handset is usually given free. Do you actually believe they are free? Did the officer offer the network payment for the handset in return?

If you borrow 3k from Lloyds over 18 months and you go on tour after 11 months should you be excused repayments if you are serving elsewhere?

Whinges and whines like this will do nothing other than make squaddies look like throbbers
And that's the point which people are missing here. Some of the whinges on this site are just pathetic. They are counterproductive and will eventually erode the more important issues of concern to military personnel. There are more important issues to be dealt with than some f*ckwit who doesn't want to pay his phone bill. He's been deployed? Well, f*ck me but isn't that what he's paid to do? Whining c*nt.

Who care's if he can't get a refund for his mobile phone? I don't. He needs to grow a pair and sort his own finances out. It's well documented here that I'm no supporter of those commie b*stards who are currently in power, but what the f*ck has it got to do with them if some numb nuts can't sort his phone bill out? Does he want the tax payer to fork out for it?

Trivial issues such as this case are nothing short of embarrassing. He should sort out his own f*cking admin and stop being a c*nt.
 
#11
I tried to get annoyed when i heard virgin mobile was going to cancel my pay as you go phone as i hadn't used it for 4 months .When wife told them it was because I was in iraq.Problem went away.Considering cost of supe doopey handsets tough .you pay for it one way or the other.
 
#12
The general sentiment here seems to be tough shite, stop whining and sort it out yourself. Too much moaning is going to put the armed forces in the same bracket as farmers, you know those farmers who have more money than anyone but always moaning.

But

The reality is these kind of small things do make a difference and should be sorted out in a reasonable manner by any service provider because that is what they do, provide a service to a paying customer. Yes this bloke had a contract but there is absolutely nothing stopping 3 offering him a temporary break from contract, deactivate the SIM from the network and start the contract back from an agreed future date. End result, customer is happy, tells his mates, stays with network, honours his contract, pays his ongoing bills and likely to extend the contract.

The net contract length and therefore return to the carrier would be exactly the same and whilst it would lengthen their return on investment profile slightly we are not talking hundreds of thousands of customers here.

In the final analysis a bit of good of fashioned commercial common sense
 
#13
I disagree mate.

The networks offer a tariff pretty much to suit everyone, why should the networks with such a vast customer base pander to people who can't man manage their own affairs.

The networks will reduce line rental to the minimum (This pretty much pays for the phone as you pay it on the drip)

If its likely you will be going on a tour, simply don't enter into a 12 month agreement. Same as you don't book a dental appointment or birthday party when you won't be here.

I am hugely in favour of most things to do with improving conditions for blokes on tour etc, but there is a limit.

If Phone companies do it, Sky will be next, then TV licenses.....

ALL THE NETWORKS OFFER A CONTRACT FREE SOLUTION, only a muppet would commit to something they couldn't see the end of.
 
B

Biscuits_AB

Guest
#14
It's all Gordon Brown's fault. He should have budgeted for this sort of thing. The c*nt.
 
#15
How about a tariff for oil rig workers, one month on contract, one month off. What about a tariff for shift working miners, which gives them 12 hours on 12 hours off.

At this rate the networks will have to provide DPM handsets with strings on, so they don't get lost, provide three metres of bubble wrap to encase delicate little lambs in that can't wipe their own bottoms
 
#16
The networks are in business to make money, beginning and end of question

But by what route

If I was looking at this from a purely business perspective I would be weighing up the pros and cons, negative publicity, unfeeling and inflexible faceless corporation OR an organistion that is responsive to the needs of its customers with a demonstrable forces friendly policy.

Its a no brainer from a straightforward commercial point of view.

An extended period when the device or service cant be accessed, if necessary by deactivating it, is not the same as a miner (do we have any of them left now) or someone going on holiday.

If I was marketing director of 3 I would be frothing at the mouth now, simple things can buy so much goodwill/publicity and goodwill/good publicity is priceless in a fiercely competitive market.

Commercial expedient, nothing more
 
#17
I have rather mixed feelings on this - on the one hand I quite agree with MDN and (shudder) Biscuits, in that the individual in question should have sorted his Badmin out. Whining about such a paltry sum to a national newspaper when you could have sorted the problem yourself is very, very bad form. I made exaclty the same mobile phone error a couple of years ago :oops: accepted my mistake and soldiered on, vowing not to be such a prat next time. I can't even begin to understand the mindset of a YO going to someone like this "Troubleshooter" over this sort of issue.

From the commercial perspective though, Meridian is quite right. If I was in charge of the Telco in question I would be viewing this as a bit of a lost opportunity. IF they offered a "tarriff holiday" for the Armed Forces, they would instantly get a lot of very positive PR, of the "Helping Our Boys on the front line" - Sun headline variety. Furthermore, they would also get increased business from those of us who would rather not have a Pay as you go phone. If they found themselves able to do this for us, then yes, they should be able to offer it to others such as oil rig workers, etc. Who would also then be able to give them increased return business.

In short - the officer in question is a bit of a prat, but the Telcos are missing a trick.
 
#18
12 months contract is usually the standard with the occasional 18 months for special deals, I don't see why anyone would be moaning, it plainly obvious, the only way out is to read the contract, depending on the company you can get out, with 30 days notice and 2/3 months rental penalty, some will expect you to pay the rest of the contract period.

thats the only thing I can advise, read through the contract, its not difficult as many are now written in plain English these days.

I have a PAYG its easier and if it gets nicked I only lose the top up and phone, unlike one businessman who phoned was stolen and a £1500 bill was run up by the thieving scrote.
 
#19
As soon as any organisation falls onto their T's and C's they have lost the customer, their mates, their dog and anyone who will listen. As soon as it hits a national newspaper in the context of the current climate of forces welfare make no mistake this will be viewed as a serious issue

Very simple and basic commercial sense

For the sake of some simple workflow changes, modification to their terms of service, a dedicated forces helpdesk number and a bit of clever marketing they could access a significant addressable market in a fiercely competitive area where market share is just as important as revenue.

So simply saying tough shit read the contract you c*ck in the full view of the media is the rapid road to commercial nosediving
 
B

Biscuits_AB

Guest
#20
semper said:
12 months contract is usually the standard with the occasional 18 months for special deals, I don't see why anyone would be moaning, it plainly obvious, the only way out is to read the contract, depending on the company you can get out, with 30 days notice and 2/3 months rental penalty, some will expect you to pay the rest of the contract period.

thats the only thing I can advise, read through the contract, its not difficult as many are now written in plain English these days.

I have a PAYG its easier and if it gets nicked I only lose the top up and phone, unlike one businessman who phoned was stolen and a £1500 bill was run up by the thieving scrote.
You're in the cadets, aren't you?
 

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