Vulnerable person cut off from landline and broadband for weeks

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I am writing on behalf of an 84-year-old friend who lives alone. Just before Christmas, on 21 December, his landline and broadband both stopped working, and, ever since, we have been trying to get him reconnected. It seems that the road was dug up and the workmen managed to mix up the phone lines. All his landline calls are going to another house’s voicemail.

We called his supplier, TalkTalk, and someone was sent out on New Year’s Eve. We were told that the road will have to be dug up again, but nothing has happened.

There is no one else around to help and I cannot create a support bubble with him as I have an elderly mother. He has had no landline or internet for all of this time. I have also contacted the local paper and the local MP as I am running out of ideas.

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Guardian Money has had several pleas like this over the past few months and we have helped several older readers – and at least one GP – to get reconnected by speaking to Openreach, the BT division that manages the telecoms infrastructure on all of the phone companies’ behalf.

Openreach engineers have been working in difficult conditions throughout the pandemic and their contribution needs to be recognised. Within a few hours of us calling, it swiftly got on the case and restored your friend’s service. You are both very relieved.

Meanwhile, with your friend’s permission, it’s worth you speaking to TalkTalk to explain his situation, as telecoms firms are often unaware that a customer may be vulnerable. You should also apply (on his behalf) for £8-a-day compensation for his lost service. It kicks in two days after the customer reports any loss of service if the problem remains unfixed.

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