Some weeks ago Vodafone acknowledged that the changeover had some impact on coverage in the East Clare area, but the company assured customers it was seeking a resolution as soon as possible.
Following a further query on the matter, Vodafone accepts that some customers have been impacted by loss of coverage but they expect that this issue will be resolved within a fortnight.
“While the recent site move in the Maghera area has resulted in some benefits to customers in the area, we are aware that some customers have been impacted with intermittent loss of coverage.
“We are currently working to make adjustments at the site so that the issue will be resolved for customers as a priority and we estimate that this will be finished within the next ten days. Vodafone apologises for any inconvenience caused to customers,” a spokesperson for the phone company said.
Highlighting the level of complaints he has received regarding the lack of Vodafone coverage in the East Clare area and on him personally, East Clare Councillor Pat Hayes stressed that in this day and age when people are so reliant on mobile phones it was causing huge inconveniences for people.
“A number of people contact me every day about this issue because many people are linked into a 12 month contract or longer in some cases. Areas of North East Clare seem to be most affected. I’ve had a lot of people onto me from Feakle, Killanena, Scariff and into Tulla that area and that is a vast countryside without coverage.
“Some people would say to me haven’t you a lot more important things to be campaigning about than mobile phone coverage but the present situation is a lot people have discontinued with their landlines and are very much dependent on mobile coverage. This lack of coverage has made things very difficult for people. I’ve met a number of people who have signed up to year-long contracts with Vodafone, so you can’t just walk in and walk out, they have signed up to packages for a year where they have linked their home phones and internet so people are very dependent on the coverage,” he said.
He highlighted that he wished to apologise to his constituents even though he said “it’s not my fault that I can’t answer the phone or get messages it’s because of the coverage in the area”.
Councillor Hayes says the matter has created huge difficulties for him in carrying out his job as a public representative.
“I have so many dropped calls that come in the following day and a lot of them are missed. It’s very difficult for me to do my job now, people leave a message or send a text and I might get it the following day.
“For instance, I got a message reminder of a meeting tomorrow evening and the next thing I was getting a call that night saying how come you are not here, the message came in on the Monday morning and I took it that the meeting was the Tuesday, but the message was actually sent on a Sunday. I’ve got caught with a number of those things,” he said.
Councillor Hayes added that making a complaint about the issue is equally difficult as not only is he battling to get coverage to make the call but there is also a communication difficulty and a lack of understanding with those in the customer service call centre.
“My difficulty is when I try to complain about it and try to get a response ultimately I’m being referred out of the country to Cairo and to different services which is not supportive of communities and industry in Ireland. I’m trying to communicate over a broken line and there’s a difficulty of understanding our issues and numerous times I’ve had people trying to tell me there is a problem with my phone. How can people log complaints when you are referred to Cairo, it takes you half an hour to get through by the time you’re transferred through some people don’t bother waiting,” he said.
Councillor Hayes said the issue in the East Clare area seems to be primarily confined to Vodafone customers.
“They are due to take the mast down in Maghera but I don’t know the technical reasons for why coverage has failed but it has definitely been bad for six months. It was far better before then,” Councillor Hayes added.
Following the issuing of a response to queries regarding the poor coverage experienced by Vodafone users in East Clare, Councillor Hayes said he was glad that the company is taking the matter seriously.
“Communication is part of a modern society, and it’s very important that communication is kept open,” he concluded.