Bad BT phone line cost Watton business £300,000

Weco Engineering owners Paul and Lorraine McCarthy have been without a constant phone line since 2011. Picture: Ian Burt Weco Engineering owners Paul and Lorraine McCarthy have been without a constant phone line since 2011. Picture: Ian Burt

Thursday, April 3, 2014
10:26 AM

A Watton businessman claims he has lost major clients and £300,000 worth of work because BT has failed to provide fully-functioning phone lines since 2011.

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Weco Engineering has been unable to receive calls reliably from customers or communicate between its factories and offices since its broadband package was installed.

Company founder and BT shareholder Paul McCarthy says growth of his 55-year-old firm, which makes large-scale steel products, has been choked as contracts worth as much as £46,000 were lost as customers’ calls went unanswered.

BT has apologised and Mr McCarthy said he has been told he will have four phones working across the firm’s three sites in the next three to four weeks. But that connectivity is still only a quarter of what Mr McCarthy and his wife, town mayor Lorraine McCarthy, signed up for.

They switched to the telecoms giant in September 2011, wanting 16 phones to communicate for free between the two factories on New Green Business Park, one on Griston Road and an office at their home on Portal Avenue, as well as to speak to customers.

But that never happened and the business has not had a constant phone line since.

“You just can’t run a business without a phone,” said Mr McCarthy. “And after three years without one, being told it will be three weeks until they do anything is a joke.”

Before BT’s Versatility package was installed the company had more than 100 clients on its books, and shipped all over the world.

But over the last three years, Weco has been almost totally cut off from clients, leaving it with just 10 customers and a turnover of £750,000 which Mr McCarthy said could have been doubled if the phone line had worked properly.

“No one should have to go through this,” he said. “People in small towns like Watton are losing a lot of money and we have had a lot of hardship we don’t deserve.”

A spokesman for BT said the company had been in regular contact with Weco and had agreed a way forward to make and fund changes to the system.

“This will involve lessening the dependence on internet lines which in turn should increase the reliability of the broadband connection,” he said.

“The company has had service over this period, but has experienced some problems with voice calls over the internet on this system.

“We have been investigating these issues, and although there were problems, we found that these were probably also not helped by changes made to the company’s internal system, after the product was installed.”

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