NEWBERRY SPRINGS A Newberry Springs man says that he was without cell phone service for two months and had trouble obtaining a refund, and other area Sprint customers experienced similar problems.

Ron McBrien said he had been using a Virgin wireless phone for three years when he was suddenly unable to obtain service. Virgin phones use the Sprint wireless network.

"I was watching T.V. and the phone was getting real hot, it was searching its brains out for a signal," said McBrien.

McBrien said he brought the phone back to the Barstow Radio Shack store where he purchased the phone and obtained another, only to experience the same problem.

A sales associate at the Barstow Radio Shack said that five or six Newberry Springs Sprint customers have visited the store with similar complaints.

McBrien said a Radio Shack manager told him that a dish was "turned" away from Newberry Springs to face Interstate 15. When contacted, Radio Shack management refused comment, saying it was against company policy.

Jayne Wallace, spokeswoman for Sprint, said that she was not aware of any outage in the Newberry Springs area and that individual Sprint customers may have been having individual signal problems. Wallace said that she would have to contact other Sprint personnel to find out what problems Newberry Springs customers may have been experiencing.

McBrien said that his phone service was eventually restored, although he had problems obtaining a refund for the two months when he couldn't obtain a signal. After seeking a refund from Virgin and "getting nowhere" McBrien contacted the California Public Utilities Commission, and a check for twice the amount he was owed arrived in the mail.

Christopher Chow, spokesman for the California Public Utilities Commission, said that cell phone customers should be sure to check the fine print in their contracts, as some may not issue refunds for signal loss issues.

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(760) 256-4126 or adome@desertdispatch.com