Caught between BT and Openreach over our cut telephone line

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Engineers from Openreach managed to cut our telephone line while they were working on our road. The phone stopped working, and our broadband was down for about three hours but then came back at very slow speeds.

BT promised two engineer appointments but no one turned up. When someone did arrive, they told us the fault was in the street and that he needed to book temporary traffic lights, with council permission required, and it could take seven days to fix.

BT blamed Openreach for failing to fulfil the earlier appointments, and promised another engineer would come out – twice. Again, no one turned up.

Our broadband then stopped working completely. My step mum, who is in a care home in Melbourne and suffers from anxiety, relies upon our weekly call, the kids can’t do their homework and I have spent well over eight hours talking to BT over the last three weeks with absolutely no progress.

NJ, Hertfordshire

BT is your service provider, but Openreach is a separate legal entity owned by BT and operates Britain’s digital network, such as the cables, cabinets and poles. In your case, communication between the two appears to have broken down badly.

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Soon after you sent your letter to us, your service was patched up – by an Openreach engineer working on a property nearby. When you contacted BT, it said it had not booked that engineer and did not know about the work. You were left wondering if this was just a temporary fix. During this saga, BT offered you a EE 4G “mini-hub” to allow broadband access, but the signal is poor in your area, with you calling it “next to useless”.

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BT then offered £25 for each missed appointment, but rejected your request for the £8 a day compensation that phone companies are supposed to offer if, after two days, service is not restored. BT argued that you still received a partial service.

But it changed its tune when the Observer got involved. It now says it will pay you the £8 a day – adding up to £160 – plus the £100 for the missed appointments. It also insists that the line is properly fixed. It says: “We’re very sorry about the problem with NJ’s broadband service. We’re pleased to say his line is fully repaired and he is happy with the full refund to apologise for the delay in restoring his service.”

Openreach did not have anything to add to the BT statement.

Compiled by Patrick Collinson. Anna Tims is away.

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