‘I am disabled and housebound – but BT has cut my lifeline’

I am a 32-year-old disabled woman who is housebound. It is vital to have lifelines in place to help distract from the isolation, so I was thrilled when BT Infinity became available in my area.

On the day the service was due to be activated my internet connection was, instead, disconnected. An Openreach engineer arrived five days later and found that a vital cable was missing from the street cabinet. I was told this would be fixed within three days.

But then more faults were discovered with the cabinet and new dates had to be fixed for Openreach engineers to attend.

I’ve now been without any internet for nearly nine weeks. The BTCare team calls every few days with “updates”, mainly that they were waiting to hear from Openreach or for it to update its notes. Meanwhile it debited £86.98 which included a £29.99 activation charge.

It is clear BTCare runs off a script and the customer is not heard.

I still have no idea what exactly is wrong. The only people who know the specifics (Openreach) cannot be contacted by the customer.

I have, meanwhile, incurred charges of nearly £300 for mobile phone data since I have no wifi, and subscriptions for Apple Music, Netflix and Readly I cannot use.

And BT is taking £54.75 a month from my minimal disability income without providing the service they are charging me for.

The lifeline I have come to rely on to keep contact with the outside world is gone, and my mental and physical health has plummeted.

I haven’t been able to download books to my Kindle (I struggle to hold a book) and I can’t even access the online prescription service.

ADM, Weymouth, Dorset

It is a sorry irony that telecommunications companies are among the worst at communication and, although the impact of a faulty broadband connection is more severe on you than on most, your experience is all too familiar.

Openreach, which is responsible for installing and maintaining the country’s telecoms infrastructure, does not deal with customers. Nor does news of its activities reliably reach the service providers who do.

In your case, although BT has kept in vague touch, it hasn’t listened. Which makes it all the more depressing that the day after I contacted the press office your service was miraculously resurrected.

But not for long, mind. It failed regularly over the next four weeks until a more switched-on engineer found a fault within your house.

You are now reconnected with the outside world. BT says it is carrying out an investigation to ensure your experience is not repeated.

It has refunded the charges for the weeks you were without service and added £100 in goodwill. It has also flagged you up as vulnerable so that any problems will be fast tracked.

If you need help email Anna Tims at your.problems@observer.co.uk or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/feb/07/internet-broadband-openreach-bt-infinity-disconnect

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