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No military mobile bill-waiver from O2 and Virgin

Serving overseas? Sorry

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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 individuals who find themselves posted overseas, and Virgin reckons it is working on a standard policy, but neither will commit to suspending service of commitments to defending the free world prevent them making use of their mobile phone - unlike every other UK operator we've spoken to.

T-Mobile comes out as the soldier's friend, offering to suspend contracts indefinitely on production of proof of employment. 3 introduced a new policy in November last year offering suspension of up to 12 months with the option to cancel the contract (and return the handset) for longer postings, and Orange will suspend the contract of anyone serving abroad for six months.

Vodafone isn't quite so accommodating, but if informed prior to the posting it will credit the amount paid while the customer was away, on their return.

In a statement that took several days to obtain, O2 told us that "As a principle, we don’t allow customers to suspend or defer their mobile phone contract", and that "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".

It's just possible that someone receiving a posting to Afghanistan, Iraq or similar might not have their mobile phone contract at the forefront of their mind - so a standard procedure is surely the least an operator can offer. Virgin tells us they are currently considering such a thing, which would leave O2 as the only operator squeezing money out of soldiers fighting abroad. ®

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