MP slams BT's slow response to cable fault

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 02 November 2012 Updated: 06/11 13:48

VULNERABLE residents have been left without emergency helplines and businesses have had their profits hit after BT took a week to repair a damaged cable.

An estimated 525 properties in the south of the borough have been without internet and phone lines after vandals damaged a major cable near Feckenham last Friday (October 26).

Despite engineers working around the clock to replace a section of the cable, some households are only having their lines restored today (Friday) and others who have been reconnected have been hooked up to the wrong property.

The Brook Inn on Sillins Lane was among those affected. Manager Stephen Booth said they had not been able to take card payments since 8.30am last Friday.

"It is really affecting us as we are taking 50 per cent less than we normally do. It's an absolute nightmare as we have got people coming in to the pub with only their cards not knowing about the problem."

Hunt End resident John Shopland said BT had not communicated with anybody about the problem.

"BT are treating everybody like idiots and to add insult to injury our neighbour got a message asking him to log on to the internet to track the progress which beggars belief."

Elderly residents who rely on the Lifeline emergency response service have also been affected.

Redditch MP Karen Lumley said while she understood the issue was not caused by BT she was 'deeply disappointed' by the company's response and would be writing to the chief executive to ask how people would be compensated.

"BT has been extremely slow to inform customers of the loss of service with most people relying on the Redditch Standard. Speaking to constituents, many have been put through to an automated line without having the opportunity to speak to an advisor. All of this creates a feeling that BT is not treating this as an emergency issue. I question whether if this happened in an inner city whether this incredibly slow response would have happened."

But a BT spokeswoman said compensation was a matter for individual service providers as Openreach worked on behalf of all service providers not just BT. She added users of lifeline services should have been told when it was installed there was a chance it would not work if the telephone line was affected, but if they were aware it was installed, a repair would be made a priority.

"However in situations like this where the network has been criminally and extensively damaged the action we can take is limited.

"Thieves and those who damage the network are putting lives at risk."

She added cross lines were common following the reconnection process and engineers would check each line was connected properly after work was finished, expected to be today (Friday).

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