Grandmother dies after mobile phone is cut-off
Published on: 6th Apr 2015
Note -- this news article is more than a year old.
Vodafone UK's policy of recycling dormant phone numbers is being blamed for the death of a 78 year old woman who found her phone cut off when she needed to call for an ambulance.
Sheila Secker, a grandmother of 78 had a prepay phone for emergencies, but as it hadn't been used for more than 3 months, Vodafone put the account onto its dormant list and prepared to disconnect it.
Mrs Secker's son realised what was happening when prepay top-ups were not taken as usual from the bank account and tried to have the line reactivated.
However, the problem was not resolved when, late last year, she collapsed with the flu. She was taken to hospital only after police were sent to see if she was alright following an absense of communications from her.
Mrs Secker's son Steve, told The Sunday Times: "I suspect there are numerous vulnerable people in a similar position to my mum who think they have a valid mobile but will find, just when they need it, that it doesn't work."
A Vodafone representative confirmed that dormant lines were put in quarantine after 90-days, but added that they can still be used to call the emergency services.
Vodafone disconnects around three million numbers per year.
A spokesman for the telecoms regulator, Ofcom said: "We are very concerned to hear about this distressing case and have raised it with Vodafone.
"We are reviewing how mobile providers reuse numbers."