Dereham businesses left without phone lines for nearly a fortnight demand compensation
Businesses that suffered loss of trade and complaints from customers after their phone lines were cut for nearly a fortnight are calling for compensation.
Dereham Festival 2012's booking system, a recently-established accountancy firm and a hairdresser and a barber in the Norwich Street area of Dereham were among 80 customers to report faults after water got into an underground cable.
Judy Rogers, who runs the @thegallery coffee shop, gallery and framing shop at the Memorial Hall, said callers heard an engaged tone when the problem started on Thursday, May 31 and later a ringing tone, leading them to think they were being ignored.
She added: 'People are very cross and will come in and say 'I have been ringing for days and you never answer the phone'.
'All you can do is say 'I'm very sorry, it's a fault on the line', but if you have been ringing for a week and getting the engaged tone you would not be happy. People understand, but you still get some very grumpy people.'
Volunteers taking bookings for the festival, which reaches a climax this week, resorted to using their mobile phones to contact committee members with internet access at home to check ticket availability and seating plans, and make reservations.
Staff at Aston Shaw accountants, which moved next to the Memorial Hall in November, also relied on mobile phones to talk to clients, while customers trying to phone them were diverted to their office in Norwich.
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Sean Bond, who has run barbers Shorn by Sean for 12 years, said he first had problems with his phone five weeks ago, and although one line worked, problems taking credit card payments caused 'quite a bit of disruption'.
He said: 'It's a joke, isn't it? When you are running a business you need your phone line. They should have some kind of compensation.'
A BT spokesman said customers would have to speak to their service providers about compensation.
He said: 'We had to work out of hours to diagnose the problem due to the location which was in the carriageway. Engineers have been on site, changing out a section of cabling in the manhole and then connecting those affected back into service. This connection work is nearly complete and services are nearly fully restored, and we have the final three reported faults left to clear.
'We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused whilst this work was being carried out and assure those affected we did all we could to get this completed as quickly as possible.'