EE customers who haven't already requested a code for a 'free' power bar – a portable smartphone charger – will have to wait until August before they can get one. Here's our Q&A on the deal.

The mobile network has "paused" its promotion for a second time, and says it's had over two million requests for the gadget since the deal launched in April, which equates to a request for a power code once every second.

However, this "pause" only affects those who request a code after 9am today. Also see our Cheap Mobiles guide for our top tips on getting the best deal on your handset.

If you are going to get a power bar, it's important to note that while EE's marketing has made it look like this is a total freebie, legally it's a free hire agreement.

I've NOT received a code. Can I still get a power bar?

Annoyingly, if you didn't send a text requesting a code before 9am today (17 July 2015), then you'll have to wait until August – an exact date has yet to be given.

EE says anyone who texts a code request after 9am today will not be charged to do so, and will get a text response back saying the scheme has been put on hold until August. You'll have to text to request a code again once the scheme has reopened.

I've GOT a code from EE. Can I still get a power bar?

If you've got a code but haven't picked up your power bar, you have 30 days from receiving the code to get one. Previously there was no limit on how long codes lasted, this was a change implemented by EE last month.

However, if you don't get round to picking up a power bar within 30 days, you can still text again to get another code, although you now won't be able to do this until August and you'll also be charged a further 35p to send the text.

I've GOT a power bar. Can I still use it?

If you've got a power bar you can continue to use it as normal and those who already have the device can continue to swap it for a fully-charged replacement at any EE story nationwide for free, as many times as they like.

Why is EE pausing the scheme?

An EE spokesperson says: "EE Power is going from strength to strength. In the last month we've received requests at a rate of more than one every second. That means since the launch we've had over two million requests so we're taking another short Power Pause to replenish our stock.

"We can reassure customers more Power Bars are on the way in August. For customers who already have a code there is a Power Bar waiting in store."

Am I eligible to get the power bar?

All EE, Orange and T-Mobile customers with a 30-day, 12-month, 18-month or 24-month mobile, tablet or broadband plan are eligible.

Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) mobile customers can also get the deal as long as they've been with EE for at least three months and have made at least one chargeable call or text message during that period.

Customers of mobile companies that piggyback off EE's network, such as ASDA Mobile and BT Mobile, cannot get the power bar. It's for EE customers only. See our 60 seconds on 'piggybacking' guide for more info on what this is.

The terms and conditions say the power bar is on a hire agreement – what does this mean?

Technically, the power bar is a hire agreement, as you're allowed to swap the charger in store as many times as you like.

However, EE's terms and conditions have scared a number of people who are concerned they'll be charged for the power if it isn't returned after 18 months, if they leave EE, or if it's lost, stolen or broken.

We published a news story dissecting EE's terms and conditions (following the release of a third version of T&Cs, published on 24 June) on 30 June – see our 'Is the free EE power bar a con?' MSE News story.

Since then, EE has published another version (version four) of its terms and conditions. In essence the detail hasn't changed, here's what it means:

  • On the scheme ending in 18 months. The terms and conditions say the power bar must be returned in 18 months. However, EE reiterates that this clause is in there because it legally needs to state an end date to the promotion. It says in reality it will review the scheme as a whole after 18 months and decide whether to continue it, end it or to change it.

  • On EE customers having to return the power bar if they leave EE. The terms and conditions state that if you leave your EE mobile or broadband contract, you need to return the power bar within 60 days. However, EE says customers will not be charged if they don't return it. Its terms state: "If you’re an EE customer that has redeemed a Power Bar using a code (referred to in clause 1.3 above), a replacement charge will not apply".

  • On customers damaging, losing, or breaking a power bar. EE says customers will not be charged if they damage, lose or break a power bar. You "may" only be charged if you then decide you want a new power bar. For non-EE customers, the terms state you'll be charged "between £0.01 and £5.00 based on the depreciating value" of the power bar. They will also have to pay £20 to rejoin the scheme.  

EE 'pauses' power bar offer for a second time
EE 'pauses' power bar offer for a second time 

How do I get the power bar?

The power bar deal launched on 16 April but EE paused it on 20 April due to low stock levels. It reopened the scheme on 24 June, however it has paused the deal for a second time today.

When the deal reopens in August, you'll be able to get a power bar as follows:

  • Mobile customer: Text POWER to 365 (texts cost 35p).
  • Broadband customer: Text JOIN plus your EE landline number to 60005 (texts cost 35p).
  • Tablet customer: iPad users need to take their device in-store to get a power bar, while tablet users (non-iPad devices) need to text POWER to 365 (texts cost 35p) through their "connection manager software", which is inbuilt into the device.

Once you've sent the text or made the call, you'll receive a code, which you need to show in any EE store to get the power bar (you can't get the power bars in third-party stores such as Carphone Warehouse). Use EE's Store Finder tool to locate your nearest.

It's worth noting that when the deal first launched back in April, while most people were sent a code immediately, some found it didn't arrive for a few hours, so you may need to be patient.

If you text before the deal goes live, you won't be charged, but you won't get a code. You'll just be sent a text response saying to try again in August.

How does the power bar work?

The power bar includes a micro USB lead, which is used to charge the bar but also to charge the phone from the bar. However while this should work for the majority of phones, if you have an iPhone you will have to use your own iPhone charger cable to connect to the power bar.

If your phone isn't a smartphone you might also need a separate adaptor.

EE says the power bar has enough life in it to charge a typical smartphone once before it needs to be recharged itself. It takes around four hours to recharge and EE says it has a guaranteed life of 500 charges.

That said, EE customers can swap power bars for free in EE stores whenever theirs runs out. The bar itself will indicate how much charge it has left in it so you know when to recharge it.

What's the power bar worth?

EE is selling its power bar to non-customers for £20. But if you're thinking of getting one, compare prices first as it's likely you can get a similar charger cheaper elsewhere.

A brief look on Amazon revealed chargers with the same capacity as EE's (2,600mah) cost from around £5.

Why has EE launched this deal?

When EE axed its decade-long-running 'Orange Wednesday' 2for1 cinema deal and 2for1 offer on both mains and dough balls at most Pizza Express restaurants, it said two deals would be launched to replace it.

In March it revealed that all new and existing EE, Orange and T-Mobile mobile and broadband customers will have access to a major film rental every week for £1 from streaming service (see the EE reveals online streaming offer MSE news story). See our Cheap Cinema Deals guide, which also includes information on Compare the Market's new 2for1 cinema offer, and our Watch TV and Movies Online guide, to cut costs.

And in early April, EE revealed free rechargeable batteries as its second rewards deal (see the EE unveils portable smartphone chargers MSE news story).