Skye’s mobile phone signal hell continues

Members of the team at Skye Shrubs having major issues with their EE connection – Jasper Buxton, John Wilson, Iona Macdonald Buxton and Lyndsey Clark.

Mobile phone giant EE’s slogan “It’s all about you” is ringing hollow with customers on Skye who have been left for weeks without a service.
Portree and other areas in the north of the island have been badly affected by the lack of an EE signal which is causing major problems for individuals and businesses.
Customers who have repeatedly reported the signal issues are frustrated that EE appear to be in no hurry to find a fix
To add to the grievance, one customer was hit with a near £700 penalty when she asked to end her contract in favour of a more reliable provider.
Skye MSP Kate Forbes, who is also pressing EE for a resolution, described the situation as “completely unacceptable”.
Local businesswoman Iona Macdonald Buxton, who runs Viewfield House hotel and Skye Shrubs Garden Centre in Portree, has been without a mobile service for nearly three weeks.
Iona said: “Without a working connection it is not possible to operate the garden centre as both our till system and card machine use the data sim.
“Fortunately, it is currently closed to customers but our pre-season preparations are being seriously affected. Our manager is having to work from home due to the lack of connection as she needs an internet and telephone connection to place and receive orders. This means she is not on site to supervise work at the centre. I meanwhile cannot liaise with her, except from my home, which means I cannot supervise at the garden centre either.”
EE gave Iona a “review” date of 9th February for the fault, but added: “This is not a date of completion but a date to be reviewed on the work progress. I do not have a time frame or date for completion at present.”
Iona was offered a 50 per cent discount off her January bill from EE but as she had no service at all from the company during that time, she did not accept it.
Iona said: “I advised that as I need a working telephone and data connection, I will have to move to a new provider. Because I am still under contract, EE now wishes to charge me £684 for the privilege of cancelling contracts for a service it is not currently delivering and can give no indication of when it will be able to deliver again.”
She added: “I have been with EE since 2009 but I think they are treating their customers with contempt. It’s like they think we’ll make this as difficult as possible so that customers will give up complaining and accept their appalling service. They’re trying to hold anyone on a contract over a barrel.”
Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes said: “I understand there are three separate EE cells down at the moment, which is causing significant disruption for everyone with an EE sim in and around Portree.
“I am deeply disappointed at the total lack of urgency from EE to rectify the situation. They initially told me an engineer team will visit in mid-February, but that is far too late and I am urging them to fast-track the fix.
“We are now hitting over a fortnight without service for EE users in the biggest town on Skye and that is completely unacceptable.
“I will continue to urge EE to sort their masts out, or at the very least provide a temporary solution, as soon as possible.”
An EE spokesperson said: “We are really sorry for any inconvenience while we await permission to access the Portree mobile mast site to complete repairs. As a result of poor weather on Skye and a previous power outage, our engineers have been working hard to restore connectivity to the Portree area. We have replaced hardware and are now waiting for access from the mast owner to make the final changes needed to restore the connection.
“We appreciate that because EE has some of the widest available mobile coverage in the Skye and Lochalsh area, and across Scotland, we are relied upon by many customers. As this is a third-party mast, which also provides broadcast signals to the area, it requires extra permissions which are outwith. Once we have access to the site and when it is safe to climb in appropriate weather conditions, we aim to restore services quickly.”