Fury as phone lines cut off for four weeks

The junction of Main Street and Beech Close in Farnham.  (120510M2b)
The junction of Main Street and Beech Close in Farnham. (120510M2b)

An outraged pensioner has branded BT “irresponsible” and “careless” after homes in Farnham were left without a phone for four weeks.

The communications giant repeatedly gave out the wrong information, said 70-year-old Malcolm Staveley, and failed to check on those it had left isolated and vulnerable.

What’s more, said the retired scientist from Beech Close, it has twice apologised for his mother’s problems - despite being told that she died 12 years ago.

“Communication is a joke,” he said. “It’s like wading through treacle. They haven’t even checked who has been cut off. That is irresponsible. Two of the residents are over 80. An accident could have been fatal thanks to BT’s inaction.”

Homes in Beech Close lost their phone line four weeks ago, on January 13. When residents approached BT, they were told there was a fault.

Dr Staveley says he has repeatedly contacted the company and, on different occasions, has been assured work would begin on January 22, 30, and February 5, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that work began.

“We don’t even know where the fault is,” he said. “The poor souls in India who have been taking my calls have been trying their best, but they don’t know anything either.”

The area is a mobile phone blackspot, he added, while internet access is “sporadic at best”, meaning that elderly residents were left vulnerable if anything happened.

“Nobody has been round to see us,” he said. “They just don’t care. But they don’t have to pay compensation, there’s no incentive to get it done.”

When contacted by the Post, BT apologised to residents and said work started this week.

A spokesman said an underground cable had been badly damaged, possibly by third-party digging, and needed digging up to repair or replace it.

“We would like to apologise to customers for the loss of their telephone service and the time taken to complete repairs,” a spokesman said.

“Due to weather conditions work has unfortunately had to be postponed on several occasions.”

A temporary service hadn’t been provided, she said, because of the nature of the fault and capacity of cables.

“We expect for service to be back up and running by the end of the week,” she added.