BT responds to Nick Conrad about phone lines and internet connections in Norfolk

A BT Openreach engineer working on telephone lines. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

A BT Openreach engineer working on telephone lines. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Maybe they DO think it's good to talk? BT has responded to my questions about service in Norfolk.

The chief executive of BT Openreach wrote to me this week. Gavin Patterson's correspondence was in response to an open letter I penned to the BT group on behalf of Norfolk residents.

Listeners had contacted me after having issues with BT. In most cases they've been without a phone or broadband connection for considerable time.

Some examples for you; the Mayor of King's Lynn had been disconnected. So had the elderly man from Sheringham who missed the opportunity to get to his dying sister's bedside. Then there was a 13-year-old girl who was given a school detention because she couldn't do her homework. Finally, the businessman who was running his company from a layby on the A140.

Initially BT wouldn't accept my request for an interview. After gentle persuasion they agreed to come on the radio.

After a few unfavorable reports, including in the EDP, BT promised to listen to the experiences of those with grievances. I also wrote to BT's head honcho requesting the following action in Norfolk:

1) Investigate why customers are experiencing lengthy delays. Including looking at demand and resourcing of engineers across the county.

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2)) Review the list of Norfolk residents who are currently experiencing problems with their broadband and phone lines.

3) Finally, launch an immediate review, of how information is passed to the 'end user' and whether an improved method might mitigate some of the distress for frustrated customers.

Gavin Patterson in response was keen to take this opportunity to apologise 'personally' to anyone who felt 'let down' by BT.

He defended BT's record in the region.

'In East Anglia we install 94pc of orders on time and repair 76pc of orders on time which is above the national average,' he said.

Mr Patterson reassured me that the majority of problems I'd brought to his attention had been resolved.

'I've looked into the situation in Norfolk and can let you know that the great majority of customers don't experience any service issues with Openreach.

'Unfortunately, the customer cases you aired on your programme were of a complex nature and took longer to resolve.'

BT acknowledges their ongoing problem with communication. The company has restricted access to you and I. We as a consumer buy a product from a 'service provider'.

The 'service provider' is a customer of BT Openreach.

If you or I have a problem, in most cases, we can only talk to the service provider.

I've suggested that BT Openreach intervene to talk directly to the public in the most prolonged cases. Johnny McQuoid, BT's head of customer services says this is a 'good idea'.

Mr Patterson told me that Openreach recently asked communications providers for their views on whether it's appropriate for the company to have enhanced contact with end customers.

Alas, this idea wasn't popular with the middlemen!

'Most companies didn't want Openreach to have more direct contact but there have been some constructive suggestions around where we can work together to make improvements.'

I understand that Openreach is now working closely with the Office of the Telecoms Adjudicator to develop a plan, including our feedback.

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