Mobile phone providers prey on our heroes

Money mad mobile phone companies are making it hard for our boys fighting over in Afghanistan to cancel their contracts an investigation has found.

Soldiers can be sent to Afghanistan for up to six months. However because of heightened security they are banned from using their mobile phones while they are out there. To cut costs many of our heros try and suspend their mobile phone contracts over here.

However, according to the BBC’s investigation, researched by singer Katherine Jenkins, many mobile phone companies are reluctant to do this, while others don’t make it easy.

People posing as soldiers’ wives called a range of different mobile providers to get a response.

Orange showed some compassion telling the BBC it would allow contracts to be suspended without condition or penalty. T Mobile demanded a £3 a month retention fee, while Vodafone and 3 said they would only suspend contracts if soldiers sent in a letter from their commanding officer.

However, smaller, and dare we say more money hungry, providers including Virgin Mobile; BT Mobile; Tesco Mobile; and Talk Mobile, said there was no way they could suspend these contracts.

Since the programme aired last night almost all of these have come back claiming that there was “confusion.”

BT told us: “BT fully supports the excellent work undertaken by Army personnel. We appreciate that fixed contracts can sometimes be too inflexible for Army staff who may need to move abroad at short notice or to places like Afghanistan, where there are security restrictions. We would be happy to consider these individual cases affecting particular Army families on their merits.

“This has been our approach since the issue was highlighted in the press more than a year ago, so we are sorry that a few of our advisors gave researchers the wrong information. We will be reminding our advisors of our policy in such cases.”

Virgin added: “As we have recently seen a rise in requests for help from military personnel, we are looking at formalising a policy to make this process easier for these customers that have to go abroad for service for extended periods during their contract.”

We got in contact with Vodafone to see whether they still required our boys to go to the hassle of sending a letter from their deployment officer. A representative for the company told TechEye: “We have now slightly changed our policy and we now require is proof of employment.”

A T-Mobile representative said: “I can also confirm that to further support our Armed Forces and the work they do for us all, we have reviewed the Scheme and have decided to waive the £3.00 monthly fee payable during the period of contract suspension.”

This is all well and good but should it really take a national investigation for mobile phone companies to help our heroes? We think it would be an entirely different story if it was a mobile phone provider big wig’s family member on that front line.