An Uig resident has claimed they have been left with no mobile phone service at all for over a month after the Orange Network service stopped working.
Jill Smith from Aird, Uig, contacted the Gazette to reveal it had been more than five weeks since Aird, and other neighbouring areas, have suffered a loss of service with Orange – which she says is the only mobile service which works in the district.
She says: “Orange (not even the whole EE network) is the only mobile network in this area. We have no choice, no options.”
Ms Smith says she, and several fellow residents, have been in regular contact with Orange, but they have had conflicting responses and promises to look into the issue.
“One of the main problems is the impossibility of getting through to any department or individual in the UK who can actually listen and give information as to what is going on,” she said.
“Phone calls simply lead to endless irrelevant options and someone in an offshore call centre. They do not put you through to anyone in the UK. We are fobbed off with inaccurate information - they cannot gain access to the site, they have to give 5 days notice and the landowner will not accept it.”
She continues: “ We were told it would be restored on December 1st. Nothing happened. Yesterday I was told it would be another five or six days - but this is just someone in an offshore call centre who couldn’t initially even find my postcode and queried if I had it correct - I live here!”
Ms Smith suspects the information from each call is not being collected together which would aid the residents cause leaving them immensely frustrated.
“It is appalling that a remote and fragile community is being dealt with like this by a vast, rich, multinational corporation,” she bemoaned.
“Some people are being offered ‘boxes’ to boost their signal, but these only work if you have a computer/wi-fi/a phone with internet capability. It is no help to those of us who have no internet and no ‘smart’ phone, and anyway is just an attempt to avoid the issue of restoring the signal. It is no help when you are outside your house, or to all those travelling around.”
Admitting she has reached the end of her tether, Ms Smith reveals the issue is impacting residents severely.
She added: “What can we do? I live alone, hundreds of miles from my family and depend on text messaging as my main way of communicating with them. I am in despair that we seem to be getting absolutely nowhere with this company.
“The impossibility of communicating with them is the worst frustration. What do we do? Where do we turn?”
A spokesperson for Orange confirmed an issue with service in the area but stressed that while they had plans to fix the issue the difficult weather conditions and rural location were making it difficult.