A COUPLE were left cut off for almost a month over problems with their phone line.
Jill and Mike Elphick spent three-and-a-half weeks at their Longhirst home with no connection to the outside world by telephone, email or internet.
And their frustration was compounded when BT promised five times to send an engineer, all to no avail.
Now the couple are back online, but they are furious about the way they have been treated by the telecommunications company.
Mrs Elphick said: “We are really angry about what happened, it was just totally inefficient.
“We had no telephone or email, everything was down. It was an absolute nightmare.
“If BT had dealt with it in a more customer-friendly way I feel we wouldn’t have been put through the mill quite so much. It was so frustrating.”
The problems began on Friday, January 25 when the Elphicks went to use their phone at 9am and found there was no dialing tone.
They spotted an engineer working nearby, who said he was doing maintenance work and the line would be re-connected later that day, but while their neighbours were put back on, the Elphicks found there was no incoming signal to their house.
They contacted the BT Faults Call Centre and were told they could not be re-connected until the following Wednesday, but when the day arrived nothing happened and no one showed up.
On Thursday, January 31 the couple reported the problem again and were told it would be fixed that Saturday, but again there was no connection or contact.
On Monday, February 4 an engineer turned up at the Elphicks’ neighbours to fix a fault when none had been reported there, but he said he could not repair their line as it was not on his job sheet. The neighbours even received a call from BT to let them know that their faultless telephone was working again.
BT promised the Elphicks would be re-connected on Wednesday, February 6, but again nothing happened, and it was the same story when their new date arrived two days later, and again on Tuesday, February 12.
The line was eventually fixed on Monday, February 18.
“It has just been unbelievable,” said Mrs Elphick.
“There were at least six dates when an engineer was going to come out to fix the line, but nobody came. If they knew they were really busy and couldn’t do it then they should have told us right at the beginning. If we knew we were going to be off for three-and-a-half weeks we wouldn’t have been happy, but we could have made some other arrangements.
“After a couple of weeks they offered to divert our landline to our mobiles, but they could have done that at the beginning. For the first 10 days BT continued to operate our answer machine so people were ringing up and just being told we couldn’t answer the phone and would get back to them. Two or three people got quite cross with us because they just thought we weren’t ringing them back.”
The Elphicks have written to BT to complain about their service, but have yet to receive a reply. They have been offered some compensation, but Mrs Elphick says it does not go far enough.
She said: “We have not had one letter from BT, but we have been promised some compensation verbally. It is basically the line rental charge for the weeks we were off, which is something like £30.
“We have both had to spend at least an extra £30 on mobile phone bills, apart from anything else, and we have had to drive extra miles to go to our daughter’s house in Newcastle to use her computer to access our emails.
“There has really been quite a cost, as well as being very stressful.”
She added: “We are pensioners and live in quite an isolated place. We have very poor mobile reception so we were very glad that we were both at home together all the time. I wouldn’t have wanted to be on my own overnight without a landline telephone. We are still really quite angry and upset about it.”
A spokeswoman for BT said: “I would like to offer a sincere apology for the problems experienced by Mr and Mrs Elphick.
“This was a case of human error and coaching will be carried out to ensure the error is not repeated.”