A ROYAL Navy sailor from County Durham returned home from saving the lives of civilians in Libya to threats of action from bailiffs over an unpaid mobile bill after a mistake by her phone company.
Able Seaman Jessica Brown returned from service on board the frigate HMS Cumberland in the Mediterranean last Saturday when it docked in its home port of Devonport, in Plymouth.
But when she returned to her home in the city, she found piles of letters from T-Mobile saying that she had outstanding bills totalling £250, covering the ship’s six-and-a-half month deployment. She said she supplied the firm with documents proving that she was going abroad before the ship sailed last September and arranged to have her contract frozen.
While the ship was en route to the Persian Gulf, she also copied her Naval identity documents and payslip as further evidence of her service.
But despite going into her local store this week and waving a local newspaper with her picture on the front, she said staff still claimed they did not have enough proof she was out of the country on active service, refusing to reopen her phone account until the bill was paid.
“We got back to Plymouth and I went home and there were all these letters,” said the 23-year-old servicewoman, who is originally from Darlington.
“I went into T-Mobile and they refused to help me, they said I had to pay the money. I was very angry.
HMS Cumberland returned to Devonport to be decommissioned, after its original six-month tour in the Gulf and combating pirates off East Africa was extended by the Libyan crisis.
The Type 22 frigate was called upon to rescue hundreds of British and foreign civilians caught up in the increasingly bitter conflict in the North African country.
A T-Mobile spokesman said: “We’re really sorry and have apologised to Jessica.
“Although our staff were following our processes for good reason, this could have been handled differently.
“We’re currently reviewing our procedures to ensure our staff are appropriately equipped and supported to deal with this kind of situation in the future.”