back to article No military mobile bill-waiver from O2 and Virgin

If you're planning to take part in any of the various wars in which the UK is embroiled, you might like to make sure your mobile phone contract isn't with O2 or Virgin - they alone amongst UK operators don't offer serving military contract suspensions by default. Both O2 and Virgin told us they are prepared to listen to …


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  1. Yorkshirepudding
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    tight arse fucks nuff said

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "A customer service representative will ..."

    A customer service representative will say "no deal", because that's what the management authorised them to say, and therefore that's what's on the computer.

    "Vodafone ... will credit the amount paid while the customer was away, on their return"

    Yeah, that'll work, especially for the families of the ones who don't make it back :(

    Let me get this straight. The foreign owned operators (eg TMobile, O2) will happily provide this small benefit to the folks risking their lives because Tony Bliar told them to go on an illegal war, but the penny-pinching UK-owned operators (Vodafone?) say get stuffed. With geniuses like that in charge, is it any wonder UK plc is in deep doodoo?

  3. Carl

    No surprises there then...

    "members of the Armed Forces wishing to discuss their O2 contract are advised to contact O2 customer services, and a customer services representative will be able to advise them on their options""

    ...and this has the potential to be the most challenging, scary and dangerous part of your entire posting.

    Mortar attacks?!?! Pffffft... try O2 customer services out - it'll be the making of you...

  4. Tony Green

    But do they deserve special treatment?

    Wars of aggression like Afghanistan and Iraq destroy any claim that the military are involved in "defending their country", so why should they get special treatment when they're effectively nothing more than mercenaries fighting for the US?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm a little unsure

    as to why soldiers should get special treatment and not everyone posted to work abroad. If there pay isn't enough to compensate them for extra risks then why should it be up to mobile companies to compensate them? If it is up to mobile companies then why not other people who are sent abroad to do dangerous tasks for the government?

  6. Gilbert Wham

    Wait, what?

    Fucking hell, even the bloody *income tax* people leave you alone when you're on active service, don't they? Christ, they even make TMobile look good with a stunt like that...

  7. Steve

    Sounds fair to me.

    If you take a job that means you might have to travel, it's your responsibility to take out a mobile contract that will meet your needs.

    If they claim "I didn't know there'd be a war when I joined up", it just shows that they're almost treasonously stupid. If there is one group of people who we should expect to be prepared to be sent to a foreign country on short notice for an unspecified time it's the military.

  8. Anonymous Coward
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    Time To Cancel

    Time to cancel the two O2 phones I have then .....

  9. pctechxp

    Shame on them

    It should be part of the operator licence issused by ofcom, operators should suspend the contract for as long as the person is serving abroad and they can reactivate it again when they come back.

    Indeed, why are they not giving a heavy reduction on line rental for these brave souls?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Erm - wrong.

    Hi - this is untrue - o2 customer CAN write into write to o2

    ,but they have to prove that they are being drafted to a "Theatre of war" - o2s words.

    There is also a process for customers who are serving in prison

  11. Sulehir

    Marketing Ploy?

    An interesting possibility, maybe O2 is setting itself up to be "The operator who is against the war" A shining beacon of ethical behaviour in a mire of violent warmongering depravity.

    Or maybe they are just greedy.

    I'll get my coat and run.

  12. Mick F
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    A lot of lost custom

    Why are these companies so dumb!!!

  13. SkippyBing Silver badge

    @ Tony Green

    'so why should they get special treatment when they're effectively nothing more than mercenaries fighting for the US?'

    Ahh but the UK's Armed Forces don't decide who, where and when to fight, that's the Governments job, so do you want to penalise them for having to work for T Blair and G Brown. And before you say they could choose not to fight, if the Armed Forces decide who, where and when to fight you're on the road to a military dictatorship.

  14. Tim Spence


    While the job they do is tough, they chose it. As others have said, why do they get special treatment, when many of us can just as easily get sent somewhere abroad with our jobs for months at a time?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    @ I'm A Little Unsure

    > as to why soldiers should get special treatment and not everyone posted to work abroad.

    That would be because, unlike most of us, soldiers are posted to work abroad in order to risk their lives preserving the lives and societies of the rest of us, including the owners and employees of those companies that are trying to make money out of them in the meantime.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    Has anyone popped these details to MPs?

    I don't think they can do much about it apart from making it newsworthy - hopefully at least one telco might market a squaddie posted overseas leaniency condition (these telcos seem to be matching the finance sector for their jovial approach to life and stuff?)

  17. Sam Robshaw
    Thumb Up

    Hmmmmmm.. i am going away for bit

    This is pretty good news for me as a Serving member of HM Forces. I have recently got a new contract phone with Orange and I am detatched to the Falkland Islands in Septmeber for 4 months. Although not a "Theatre of war" I may still ask if they can suspend my contract until return.

    @ All the folks who seem to think we deserve everything that comes our way.....

    I Hope you enjoy living in a world of peace and security that myself and other members of the Forces provide for you.. you ungrateful bunch of bastards!

  18. Chris


    You need some perks to be sent away to be shot at. Soldiers get paid about the same as call centre staff.

  19. Pete

    How about an MoD cell tower in afghanistan?

    The military spends billions each year on communications - they even have their own dedicated satellite network. It should not be beyond the abilities of someone to connect a military groundstation to a cell tower (just like the phone companies connect a cell tower to a microwave link) and provide mobile phone access to service personnel on their "home" networks, using a small - very small - piece of the already in place and paid for mil-sat bandwidth.

  20. iRadiate

    Wars of aggression?

    Which was the last war that wasn't aggressive ?

    On topic. Why should a public company suspend its contract for a person that has gone abroad as a result of his/her employers request , in this case the MOD. ?

    In any other company you would be able to claim back the costs involved as 'expenses'.

    Its the MOD at fault. Not the mobile phone companies.

  21. Jolyon Ralph

    Um. For those serving in the armed forces.

    Firstly, yes, we're grateful, so don't take this as a moan.

    However... If you're employed in the armed forces you have to live with the fact that you're going to have to move around from place to place and this will be out of your control.

    So, it seems a pretty stupid move on the part of anyone in this position to take out a long-term mobile contract when a) you don't know where you'll be in the next 6 months and b) there are plenty of other options, such as pay-as-you-go or shorter-term contracts that are available and more suitable.

    On the other hand, it's pretty shitty PR for O2 not to try to bend the rules a little. I'm sure this will change soon.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @ Tony Green

    If you were skilled in something that had 1 prospective employer, would you resign on principle and throw away your entire career if they asked to to do something that you regarded as 'morally grey'?

    If our armed forces all quit on principle - as you're suggesting they should - who would protect the country, who would go on humanitarian missions that you elect to be worthy enough?

    FFS We're talking about someone who's below national average salary, wanting to avoid throwing away 35 quid a month on a 9-month posting.

  23. Rob

    Some people make me laugh....

    ... to all the commentors who remarked about "they knew what the job was before they joined..." etc, they did indeed and if wasn't for them choosing the job we wouldn't have any armed forces.

    I for one am more than happy for them to have a few financial breaks because their employer is shite and gives out shite wages (unless you can find a cushy officer number somewhere undisturbed), along with shite accomadation and shite equipment to do the job, yet they still do it. There isn't much to entice people into the armed forces so a few measly breaks like tax and suspending mobile phone contracts is the least we can do as a society, whether we agree with their employers war or not, they are still fighting on our behalf.

    /rant over (sorry, gets my goat)

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC and @Sam R

    "That would be because, unlike most of us, soldiers are posted to work abroad in order to risk their lives preserving the lives and societies of the rest of us, including the owners and employees of those companies that are trying to make money out of them in the meantime."

    "I Hope you enjoy living in a world of peace and security that myself and other members of the Forces provide for you.. you ungrateful bunch of bastards!"

    I hope you're not really naive enough to believe that. Some people would say that the actions of our soldiers (directed by our government) are what's causing a lot of the trouble in the first place.

    The Iraq war destroyed any lingering notion of "our boys" doing brave things for all of us. I think it's pretty clear that soldiers are the political pawns of the government and not acting on our behalf. Doesn't mean they're not brave, or working in difficult circumstances but it's hard to be sympathetic for someone who signs up knowing their lives are at the political whim of the government which must have been clear for anyone who's signed up in the last 12 or so years.

    I worked for the government and risked my life for crap pay, so I left.

  25. Keith
    Thumb Up


    Appreciate the job you do, but don't claim to be keeping the world safe and secure. Any weapons of mass destruction anyone? No...still not found them...never mind

  26. Rob Burke

    Quite right too (o2)

    Why should they get special treatment. It's not o2's fault if someone signs a contract then goes to war.

    I can't cancel my contract with 3 (usb modem) and I can't get a signal - I don't hear el reg making a big song and dance about it (feel free).

  27. milan

    posted overseas

    First of all, I work for Vodafone now and think that the policy of reimbursing is absolute shite, choose one or the other and get off the fence.

    To those who decided this story would be a fantastic oppurtunity to bash the armed forces and gob off about 'illegal wars', shouldn't you be waving a flag (heaven forbid not the Union Jack) or placard alongside Osborne and co?

    As for comparing being posted overseas by a non military employer versus a soldier being posted overseas, the non mil generally have the option of saying no thanks and at worse giving a couple of months notice while still refusing to go, soldiers don't have that option, they go or they generally end up in Colchester, even handing in their 1 years notice wouldn't do them much good.

    Bunch of ungrateful twats.

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Now you're asking

    Come on now

    Firstly the UK armed forces didn't choose to go into Iraq or Afganistan, the Government did, the troops go where the elected government tell them to go.

    Secondly a lot of companies will suspend a contract when people are not going to be able to use a service for a short period of time. Keeping a customer happy will probably lead to him/her being a loyal customer no matter what company or employer you work for.

    Finally, troops cannot use their phones when on ops due to personal security reasons, there have been too many occasions when the bad people out there (and they are bad people) get hold of the phones or the details on them and ring home and terrorise their families and friends, not nice I bet.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Speaking as a forces brat...

    Can the anti-war brigade (with whom, otherwise, I have some sympathy), please keep in mind that the armed forces are obliged to obey the government, whatever damn fool schemes they come up with? Notwithstanding their choice to do the job, the armed forces risk their lives to implement their government's policy, sometimes at great personal cost and mostly for precious little reward. The petty sniping seen here & everywhere else that Joe Ignoramus gets to 'have [his] say' must make them wonder why the hell they bother - you disloyal, whingeing gits. Is it to much to ask that you separate your feelings for the government from those you have for the forces they employ?

  31. Charles Manning

    @SkippyBing @BRob Burke and others

    The soldiers might not choose where they fight, but they sure do choose whether they sign up. It has been a very long time since conscription or since a judge said "Right son, it's either the army or jail.". Going away is part of the job.

    Same deal with owning a pet, having kids or other responsibilities.

    It would be broken to give this deal to soldiers but not to merchant seamen, tour guides and others that travel as part of their work.

  32. Joe Harrison

    Why suspend contract, just take phone with them

    "Hi mum I'm in Iraq it ain't half hot. [WHAM] No that was just one of the lads having a lark."

    Could be a bit dodge claiming on mobile phone insurance though "Reason for damage: put phone in wrong pocket, on outside of bullet-proof jacket"

  33. Rich

    What about other workers

    What happens if you're going abroad to help people rather than kill them?

    If the MoD wants, it could offer to pay its people for things like mobile phone contracts.

    I'm more inclined to get my phone from Virgin & O2. I wonder if any Middle Eastern operators give you a contract holiday if you go off to join the Taliban.

    (Also, for those demanding that people "support our troops", could I mention that this is a global site. Note everyone reading this is a subject of the New British Empire).

  34. Trevor Pott Gold badge

    Support [possive attribute] troops

    I grew up smack in between two military bases. Canadian soldiers of the PPCLI, and a bunch of fighter jockeys who liked to rattle the windows. I grew up with them, their families, and half a city that had a special military discount for everything under the sun. This is a pretty tough issue, AFAIK, the US, the UK and Canada are all voluntary service militaries, with shite pay, and even more shite respect. Some people have nowhere else to go, some people feel the need to serve, and some are following in the family tradition.

    Make no mistake though, this is a job people choose, and they choose it knowing what they are getting into. Everyone in the military is fully aware they serve the puppet masters at the top, but you have to understand that to these men and women, putting up with that, and your attitudes is the price they feel worth paying to make sure that someone is protecting their country.

    If any of you, from any of the participating nations want to point fingers of responsibility and guilt over this, how about pointing them in a mirror. You lot elected those governments, and you lot KEPT electing them. Canada is proof that you don't have to do what the Big Boys tell you to, and if your electorate says "hey, don't invade Iraq, that's a dick move!" then you don't. Yes, even puny little Canada, with our what, 30 soldiers and an effing squirrel, we raised enough of a fuss that we chose to stay out, even though it soured Canadian/US relations for going on a decade.

    So if you want to poop all over your servicepersons, I suggest each and every one of you look in the mirror first, because they are doing what you voted for. Nothing stopped each of you who wanted the vote to go otherwise from getting out, protesting, making noise, and convincing others to raise a fuss. For every one of you (non American, sorry, you Americans are hooped,) cynics out there who say that protesting never makes a difference…bollocks. If you have allowed your country to get so bad that you get walked on (12% approval? What?) like Americans, then it’s time to burn the whole place down and start all over. Instead of bellyaching on the Internet, you lot should be out there DOING SOMETHING to positively affect your nation.

    Meanwhile, those servicepersons you are deriding will still lay down their lives to protect you right to sit on the net and bitch about them. Just remember, their orders come from you.

  35. Richard Spencer

    Who posts the soldier to Afghanistan, then?

    It is very nice of the telephone companies to freeze soldiers' bills when they (sometimes very abruptly) dissapear to distant lands, but surely the one who should pay is the Ministry of Defence?

    Either a sufficient "Active Service Allowance" to cover cellphone, TV licence, speed camera tickets etc which come due, or a tedious system of claiming all nugatory expenditure in detail, but why should, for example T-Mobile pay for Britain's wars?

    I can't say that during my 30 years in uniform MoD ever played fair, but that's the name of the beast!


  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: why join up?

    I did 8 years in the AirForce but left cos of rat-sh1t wages and rotten prospects in my trade (I.T.). I ended up going back to the TA after a few years, where my daily rate of Army pay was less than my hourly rate of pay in civvy street (managed to avoid getting called up due to bad timing).

    And why? Cos as much as I like being paid well and playing with diverse technology, the military offers a greater test of adaptability and character, a chance to use specific skillsets to a more narrow focus, and (senior personnel not withstanding) the prospect of working with solid professionals who have a culture of excellence and a teamwork ethos. Try saying that about where you work!

    I (regrettably) once told my boss,.. "I turn up here cos I have to, I play with the Army cos I like to".

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Trevor Pott

    Well said - apart from the minor detail that I can look myself in the mirror knowing that I did NOT vote for the loonies currently in power. Sadly, when the constituency I live in doesn't elect a labour MP is when bears will stop defecating in the woods. Double whammy is that my MP is a minister and so always does what the puppet master tells him - so it's a waste of time taking any issues to him if they aren't in line with officially sanctioned thinking.

    I didn't support the war in Iraq, I don't now - BUT as long as our servicemen and women are out there (and in other places like Afganistan) putting their arses on the line, they have my support. There's a big difference between supporting the troops put into the front line, and supporting the policies that put them there.

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