A LEALHOLM resident has slammed British Telecom’s response to parts of the village being without telephone coverage during last month’s cold snap.
Tom Nosworthy, of Lealholm Bank Top, and his neighbours were unable to use their telephones when storms and cold weather in early April severed cables from a telegraph pole near their homes.
They lost power and landline and mobile phone coverage but even when they tried to raise the problem with BT they believe the standards of the operator fell way below the standards they would expect.
Mr Nosworthy said when they did get through to BT they were greeted with an automated system that checks for the fault.
If a resident requested an engineer they were faced with a £130 call-out charge and he claims tests weren’t thorough as they didn’t detect faults further down the line.
He told the Gazette: “If the fault occurs somewhere along the line after the exchange then they cannot detect it.
“There was obviously a fault in Lealholm because our phones were not working and a cable from a telegraph pole was hanging down to the ground. Yet according to BT there was no fault.
“This is not the first time that we have had a problem like this.”
He is also concerned that in areas like Lealholm, residents, especially the elderly, are more in need of phone lines because they are potentially isolated.
“It is not something we can do without.
“We are quite isolated out here on the moors and feel vulnerable when the telephone is out of use,” he said.
“Obviously there will be people in similar situations all over the country.
“I think BT’s practices regarding the reporting of faults are dishonest.
“Elderly people in particular could be put off calling an engineer out by the threat of having to pay £130 if no fault is discovered.
“It is not fair the test is not 100% accurate and I think BT need to address this.”
A spokesperson for British Telecom said: “When a customer reports a fault it is mandatory for our advisors to quote possible charges, especially if we’re seeing a green (no fault) test result.
“If an engineer visits the property and finds no fault or finds a fault with the customer’s equipment, the customer will be charged for the call-out.
If a fault does exist outside the customer’s own equipment then the call-out is free of charge.”