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T-Mobile cell coverage drops Madera Ranchos 911 calls

May 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Valley family says after several 911 calls failed on their cell phone during a fire their provider, T-Mobile, refused to let them out of their contract.

"The day finally came when they were put to the test of their word and they failed, failed miserably," said Madera Ranchos resident Brandon Best.

When an electrical problem sparked the overnight fire in his truck his wife, Janeen, ran to get their two kids to safety. But she says the emergency coverage they were promised wasn't there. "My first thought was I have to keep my kids safe," she said. "And the fact that I just couldn't dial 911, that was such a panic, because at that point I needed seconds, not minutes."

A pile of ash, glass and metal is where the truck was parked when the fire started. What made is so frightening for the family they were parked just 10-15 feet from their propane tank. Janeen says she tried repeatedly to call for help.

"And it said 'network error', running across the phone," she said.

Help finally arrived and this truck was the only casualty. But when the Bests called T-Mobile to explain their frightening night and continue their year and half long argument about poor cell coverage they got nowhere because of their contract.

"I mean $400, that's not pocket change. And so we were just going to suck it up until next year," Janeen said.

Months ago T-Mobile did offer to help. In an email to Action News T-Mobile said: "in this case, we worked with Ms. Best to upgrade her handsets and provide a signal booster to better enhance her reception..."

But the Bests say that didn't work. Months passed, then came the fire. "Your promises, your word, everything failed," Brandon Best said.

T-Mobile's email went on to say: "when this did not solve the problem, we agreed to cancel her services and credit any early termination fees assessed."

But that was only after Action News contacted T-Mobile. Here's what you need to know cell phone companies do have policies in place so you can test your coverage at home.

Jeff Range, owner of Cell Toys in Central Fresno says the grace period is 30 days. "You're supposed to get a full refund, there may be a restocking fee, the phone has to be returned in good condition," Range said.

The Bests are relieved the battle is over. "It was sad that it took that much, just to get out of the contract," Janeen said.

An important note, cell phone companies never guarantee coverage. They say it changes regularly depending on a number of factors. But they say emergency calls should go through even in poor coverage areas.

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