Can You Cancel Your Mobile Phone Contract if You Cannot Get Signal?

Being stuck without a signal can be frustrating, However, does it mean you can abandon your network and break your mobile contract without charges? Here is a guide on when you can cancel your contract without facing a hefty fee.

How to cancel your contract

There are various ways that you can do to cancel your mobile contract, including:

You are in your cooling off period

Under current United Kingdom law, you can choose to cancel a mobile contract within the first fourteen days without the need to give a reason to the provider if you have either:

  • Ordered by phone
  • Ordered online
  • Ordered by post

However, this 14-day window does not apply automatically to contracts purchased in store, where your option to cancel will depend on the returns and cancellations policy of the store.

Most network providers do offer an additional cooling off period with their mobile phone contracts, where they can be freely cancelled without any charge.

This cooling off period differs from provider to provider but is not likely to be longer than a month.

While this should give you time to check if your new mobile receives suitable network coverage if you encounter a problem, you should talk to your mobile network immediately.

Your contract includes a network guarantee

Some mobile networks give a guarantee of acceptable network coverage within their mobile contracts, allowing you to cancel the contract if you find that you do not have the signal that you expected.

However, this guarantee is not given by every mobile network provider so you will need to examine the contract terms and conditions before you apply.

A rival provider will buy you out

If you discover that you cannot cancel your contract due to poor network coverage without contracting costly cancellation fees, you may be able to go to a rival network to request them to buy you out (either via a high street mobile phone retailer or directly).

Essentially, this would involve the rival network paying for your present mobile phone contract in exchange for you availing a fixed length contract with them.

Whether or not this will make any financial sense depends on how long you have left to abandon your existing mobile contract and the costs that would be charged in early exit fees.

Even though approaching a rival network in this way could allow you to avoid substantial contractual fees, or paying for a contract that you cannot use, you could discover that as a result, you have less bargaining power with the new provider and may not receive the best contract possible.

Where have you got a signal?

  • Nowhere – If you can’t look for a mobile signal anyway within a fair distance that is surrounding your home, then you have the right to raise your issue with your mobile network provider.

You can demand a signal strength check to be performed, which will help support your claim to the provider. After this has been addressed, you will have the reason to cancel your contract for its non-performance.

  • Outside your home, but not inside – Seldom, a poor signal can be because of something in your home that is preventing the network signal from reaching your mobile device.

Examine your mobile contract to check whether your network included within its terms and conditions that they will not be held responsible for short losses of mobile service. If you can’t find this, then ensure that you express this issue when you speak to the network provider.

  • Regardless of your location… If the loss of signal is not a direct result of your actions, and it was never disclosed to you before agreeing to your mobile contract that the signal may be poor, sporadic, or weak in your area, then you have the right to cancel under the supply of goods and services act of 1982.

Look for a better contract next time

You can easily compare mobile phone contracts using

Their website includes a variety of pay as you go, pay monthly, and SIM only deals from all providers in the United Kingdom. Check the recorded level in your area before applying.

All major mobile network providers in the United Kingdom publish maps which reveal the areas that their networks cover. Use these to monitor the signal strength at your most common locations, such as your work and your home.

If you discover that either area or any other location you spend a large amount of time, is not covered, then you may need to look for a mobile contract from another mobile network.

Here is a list of network coverage maps on the Ofcom website

What to do if you cannot get out of your contract

If you find out that you are not able to cancel your contract and is still unable to use your phone, your options are restricted. You can:

  • Request your network provider to drop you onto the cheapest contract option possible
  • If they allow you, a pay as you go Contract could cost cheaper
  • This way you will be reducing the cost of keeping a contract you cannot use
  • Keep your SIM card and make use of it whenever you can to get your money’s worth

How to complain

If you think that you have been mis-sold on your mobile contract or been provided misleading information or promises with regards to mobile network coverage, then you may be able to make a complaint.

Every mobile operator in the United Kingdom must belong to the Communication Ombudsman Service, and they have the authority to award compensation to you of up to £10,000 if your complaint is confirmed. However, the most commonly rewarded amount is £50.

Before you take your complaint to the service, you will need to have directly complained to your network provider and been through their in-house complaints procedure.

There is also no guarantee that your complaint will be approved by the Communication Ombudsman Service.

For more advice on how to make a complaint about your mobile operator, visit the Resolver website.