'It spoiled our Christmas' Cromer pub's ongoing six-month BT nightmare

From left: Simone Hopwood, Philip Rodwell and Leona Hopwood outside the Wellington pub, Cromer. Pict

From left: Simone Hopwood, Philip Rodwell and Leona Hopwood outside the Wellington pub, Cromer. Picture: ALEX HURRELL - Credit: Archant

A seaside business claims it has lost thousands of pounds and is having to cut back its opening hours because of a 'complete fiasco' involving telecoms giant BT.

The Wellington pub in Cromer has been without its main landline phone for nearly six months - a second landline only works sporadically - lost the use of its tills in the run-up to Christmas, cannot offer customers broadband access in its bar, and online bookings for the pub's four letting rooms have to be processed by staff from their own homes.

The pub's problems began last August when director Leona Hopwood was contacted by someone from BT Local Business (BTLB) telling her that the Cromer area's copper cables would eventually be replaced by fibre optics and offering the business an 'upgrade deal'.

As the pub had been having broadband problems, Leona, believing the caller to be a BT employee, agreed.

She, fellow director Simone Hopwood and restaurant manager Philip Rodwell only discovered this week that BTLB is in fact a network of independent businesses, backed and vetted by BT. They now also know that the BT 'local' business dealing with The Wellington is actually based in Wales.

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The trio say contractors took away their main landline, without consultation, and have not yet reinstated it, left vital jobs unfinished and did not deliver equipment.

They claim countless phone calls to try and resolve problems have been fruitless. On one occasion Simone was transferred from London to Norwich, Bath, Liverpool, Ireland, and Birmingham in a four-hour call which reduced her to tears.

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The two weeks when the tills were off had left them vulnerable to fraud and theft, according to Mr Rodwell.

He believes they lost significant trade during that busy period, and since, because customers could not ring and book tables.

The restaurant would normally have remained open in January for three or four days a week, but they had cut back to Sundays only for the time being.

Simone said the stress had spoiled Christmas for them and she had been upset to find a message left on the pub answerphone from an obviously-irate man who said he had wanted to book a table but could get no answer when he rang.

Mr Rodwell added: 'It's been a complete fiasco - an absolute mess. How can they treat customers so badly and why were we led to believe we were dealing with BT when that wasn't true?'

A BT spokesman said: 'We are very sorry for the problems that have been experienced on this account. We are urgently looking into this and working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

'A BT representative will be in contact with the customer to fully to discuss the case and will work with the BT local business (BTLB) and relevant teams to get the outstanding issues resolved as soon as possible.'

? How BT describes BT Local Business on its website:

'A network of independent businesses backed by BT. Bringing technology products, services, expertise and local understanding to your doorstep. Local expertise backed by national experience.

"We've vetted all our BT Local Businesses so you can use them with complete confidence. We train them, keep them bang up-to-date with developments, and give them direct access to a dedicated team of specialists in BT."

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