Telecommunications

BT cut off our vulnerable father in the lockdown

Our 84-year-old father lives in an assisted-living complex, currently in lockdown. He is confused by the sudden change in his everyday life and upset we are not visiting. Our only means of contact is by daily calls to his BT landline as he is unable to use a mobile or computer. But this has been out of order for more than 10 days.

My brother has been in regular communication with BT, but with no success. At first he was told the line was fine and we should buy another handset. Then he was informed repeatedly that an engineer was due out within 24 hours, and last Friday he was assured the line would be fixed by close of business on Saturday – more than 10 days since the problem was reported. The line was not repaired but BT closed the case. We called again and had confirmation the case was tagged on to another in the same complex.

However, the phone line is still not working and my brother has spent another frustrating 45 minutes doing battle with BT. All it could say was “an engineer is working on it” – no estimate of how long it will take, no description of the fault and no way to escalate it.

There were other problems in the area during some of last week but these are now resolved. The main office line into the housing complex is working, but my father’s phone remains out of order.
SH
, on behalf of SH, Maghull, Merseyside

We feel your frustration. While there are challenges for engineers carrying out repairs in care homes during lockdown, it is disappointing that a vulnerable individual was left incommunicado.

As soon as we got in touch, BT assured us the line had now been fixed. It says: “We’re very sorry for the time it has taken to reconnect SH’s landline and for any inconvenience caused, but there were a number of factors that we needed to investigate. Following an engineer visit (when the engineer wore PPE), the landline is now fully up and running. Moving forward, SH is noted as a vulnerable customer on our system, and his family has details of who to contact if there are any further issues.”

Among other initiatives offered to vulnerable landline-only customers, BT has removed out-of-bundle charges for the most critical services, such as UK landline and mobile calls, and introduced a £5-a-month cap so customers such as your father can make the essential calls without worrying about the final bill.

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