Mobile ‘phone users on the Norfolk-Suffolk border say they are losing trade and becoming increasingly frustrated by difficulties getting signal on the Vodafone network.
The problems have been ongoing since December 3, and Vodafone confirmed a fault on a local mast had “affected the signal” for some of its customers in Hoxne and surrounding villages. It is working to replace the faulty equipment.
Among those hit has been the Jade Motor Company, a family-run business operated by Alan Machen from Hall Farm, Thorpe Abbotts, which sells a range of vehicles from hatchbacks to luxury cars.
Mr Machen said: “It is driving me to distraction and is a serious problem, to put it mildly.” He currently has adverts in various publications for around 15 cars and the effect on sales has been dramatic as no-one can get through to him. “People don’t use landlines but go straight for the mobile number. If they don’t get hold of you quickly, they lose interest and move on. Since potential customers cannot even leave a voicemail message, I am losing out on sales.”
Mr Machen said he knew of other businesses similarly affected, including a Fressingfield chick producer who relied on his mobile for alerts on conditions in the sheds where he keeps thousands of chicks, and a builder working on a house renovation in Hoxne who has to keep driving two miles down the road to get signal to contact delivery suppliers.
Broadcast journalist Stuart Jarrold, who lives in Hoxne and has also been affected by loss of signal, said: “It is a repeat of a similar problem which occurred last summer when local subscribers to Vodafone had no service for several days. People rely on mobile telephones for business so much these days that being without a service for so long really is unacceptable.”
Vodafone said: “We are treating this as a priority. Meanwhile, we’re sorry some of our customers have been inconvenienced in this way and we will do our best to get the site back up and running as soon as possible.” If customers are unable to use the Vodafone service at all for three days in a row, they will be credited for that proportion of the line rental.