What to do if you're experiencing mobile phone outages

Everyone deals with mobile phone outages every now and then. But what happens if your phone keeps dropping out? If you’re unable to use your phone properly due to repeat outages, you may be able to make a telco complaint. Find out what you can do about phone outages and how we can help you at Ajust.

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What’s the issue?

When phone outages become a constant problem  

When you carry around a mobile phone, you might lose connection with the network from time to time. Phone service providers don’t guarantee that you will have a network connection at all times, however they are selling you a service, so they do need to make sure you’ve got a reasonable amount of network coverage most of the time. 

Network coverage can be lost for various reasons. It could be that a certain network doesn’t have coverage at all in some locations, leaving the consumer without phone service. Other times, outages and interruptions can affect a service provider's ability to hold up their end of the deal. 

Whatever the reason, it’s understandable to get frustrated when you can’t use your phone due to network issues. If you have experienced repeat outages, or an outage for a long period of time that has impacted your ability to use your phone, it’s a good idea to look into your options to make this right. After all, if you're paying for a phone service then you should be able to use it. 

What do you need to know?

Coverage can vary, but be aware of your rights 

If phone outages are significant, they can constitute a breach of consumer law or a violation of the contract a service provider has with their customers. Every consumer in this position has the right to seek remedy in order to fix this issue.

Before we get into the consumer regulations, let’s take a look at a couple of practical steps you can take if you start getting phone outages: 

  • Outage in your area: Do a search online to see if there is a particular phone outage that is affecting your area. It’s possible that this could just be an isolated incident that should be resolved fairly quickly. Most telco providers will offer a tool that lets you check whether there is a service outage in your area, or you can even try using services like twitter or other social media to see if the outage is affecting other people. 
  • Coverage map: Take a look at the coverage map for your provider and other providers in your area. Not all providers have the same coverage, so if your house or business is in an area that doesn’t get great mobile phone reception with your current provider you might want to consider the option of moving to another provider. 
  • Restart your phone: Rule out the possibility that the issue could just be with your individual device, rather than with your phone network. 
  • Explore your device settings: Have you accidentally turned off your mobile roaming or switched your phone to plane mode? We’ve all done this by accident from time to time, so this may be an easy win. 

Checking your mobile plan contract

Once you’ve confirmed the nature of the incident, the next thing you should do is check your contract with your service provider. Your contract is essentially an agreement that your provider will give you the ability to access their phone network in exchange for a fee. So if your provider isn’t giving you the access you need they may be in breach of their contractual obligations. In some cases, your contract may specifically set out what happens in the case of phone outages as well as other matters such as dispute resolution and termination. For example, contracts sometimes contain a clause that allows parties to terminate the agreement in case of a material breach from the other party. Have a close read of your phone contract so you understand what obligations your provider has committed to, and what the contract says should happen if they don’t live up to their end of the bargain. 

How might the Australian consumer law help you?

In addition to your rights under your contract, Australian consumers are protected by Australian Consumer Law (ACL) regulations. The basic principles of the ACL state that as consumers, you can expect fairness when purchasing a good or service. In other words, if you have paid for phone services, then you can reasonably expect those services to work on most, if not all occasions. Even if the contract you have with your phone service provider doesn’t prove helpful, you can always look to the ACL to see what options you may have regarding a solution. 

Just a bit more

If you’re looking to avoid a scenario where you end up with a service provider that doesn’t not cover your area, then it can pay off to do your research first! Mobile Coverage Australia allows you to enter a postcode or the name of a place in order to see what phone service providers cover that area. This way, you can avoid any disappointment later on down the track when you discover your network is not working in a particular location.

What can you do?

Make the right calls (literally)

If you’re suffering through repeat phone outages that mean you’re not able to get the value from your phone service, the first thing to do is to get in touch with your phone services provider and let them know what’s been happening. Prior to doing this, you should make sure you’ve pulled together the following bits of information: 

  • Gather all your basic details, such as any identifying customer numbers, the latest bill and what plan you are on. 
  • Take note of every time an outage has occurred and for how long.
  • Inform the provider of where you are able to get reception and where you are not. 
  • Let them know this interferes with your ability to use the service.

Lodging a clear complaint

Having all the right information in place can help both you and the service provider pinpoint the problem and come up with a solution that works for both parties. If you are unable to provide clear details, it might cause confusion or delay the resolution. It’s always better to go into these conversations prepared! 

As well as giving your service provider all the information you have about your issue, you should tell your provider what outcome you want to resolve the issue. For example, you may want your provider to do one or more of the following: 

  • Giving you a reduction on the last bill payment, or a credit towards your future bill.
  • Fix the network issues in your area.
  • Give you the option to get out of your contract without incurring a fee.

Once you’ve lodged your complaint, try to be patient. Your provider might need to look into the issue and get back to you with a resolution. Service providers will differ on the time they take to handle complaints so it’s best to ask them the timeframe in which you can expect to hear back from them. Keep a record of this and follow up on any delays.  

Can't solve the phone outage issue with your telco?

Unfortunately, in some cases your service provider won’t be able to offer you a solution that works. Worse, you might not even hear back from your service provider. When this happens, your options include escalating the complaint higher up in the company or you can try lodging a complaint with the Telecommunications Ombudsman (TIO). Or you can try using Ajust - we’re a free to use service consumers can use to make complaints against any telco provider for their phone outages (and we can also help with any issues with energy providers and banks, too).


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