Caroline has secured a debate in Westminster Hall on the issue of Service Standards by BT.
We all experience the occasional frustration of being ‘cut-off’ from the world with no communications, however I hear from constituents on a regular basis regarding problems they face in securing a working telephone line and who live in a home which is frequently on the outskirts of a village and where using a mobile phone as an alternative is an impossibility. Almost without exception the company they are complaining about is BT.
I have secured a debate in Parliament this week to highlight the plight of my constituents in the hope that the Minister will leave with a better understanding of the impact of extremely poor standards of service by the company.
Earlier this year I was contacted by a resident of the village of Up Somborne which had been cut off from the phone network due to a broken line. BT responded and fixed the initial problem but left the village with an altogether more serious one, most of the telephone numbers in the village had been swapped; Mrs Jones was now receiving the calls of another villager and this was repeated along the entire street. It took BT over two weeks to finally resolve the problem, whilst my constituents were left playing secretary to their neighbours.
Similarly, my constituent Ian Forfar, another rural resident, has been repeatedly disconnected from the local exchange due to new customers requiring a line. Evidently in Sherfield English the exchange does not have the capacity to cope with increasing demand, so Mr Forfar is simply disconnected in order to artificially create a space. He describes the service he receives from BT upon contacting them as ‘scripted, truculent and rude’. My constituency office has even taken a phone line with a different provider because of the problems with the BT line.
The energy industry operates in a world of statutory compensation standards for poor service, however the telecoms industry is lagging far behind. I hope the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will look at imposing similar standards on telecoms companies to ensure customers are given the same levels of compensation as other statutory services.