Telecoms problem costly for firms

Norfolk and Suffolk businesses which lost their phones, faxes and internet access after the collapse of a North West telecoms company say they remain in an expensive communications limbo.

Norfolk and Suffolk businesses which lost their phones, faxes and internet access after the collapse of a North West telecoms company say they remain in an expensive communications limbo.

The companies, which include a garage, a taxi firm, a coal merchant, and a skip hire firm, have lost thousands of pounds because of the telecoms debacle and do not know when they will be reconnected.

Their phone lines were disconnect-ed last week after Lancashire-based Global Telecoms and Technology Ltd folded earlier last month.

On Friday, telecoms regulator Ofcom said that phone lines should be reconnected by providers within 24 to 48 hours.

But yesterday the companies, all four of which have gone back to BT, were still awaiting connection.

Grahame Parrott, who owns Aerolite petrol station and garage on Norwich Road, Watton, said the problems had seen his turnover cut by �10,000 to �15,000 last week.

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With no telecom lines, not only is he without phones but he is also unable to accept credit and debit cards or gas and electricity card payments.

He said: 'I was told that if the lines were analogue it would have only taken 24 hours but because it is a digital system it takes a lot longer to sort out.

'We were sent a contract last week by BT and signed it and sent it back and were told it would take up to 10 days.

'But on Monday we were sent another contract because the last one was incorrect and now BT are saying up to 10 days from the start of this week. Our business was down two thirds last week and no one could go on like that for much longer.'

On the other side of Watton, Stephen Sellers, who runs Breckland taxi service Home James Cars, a garage and a trailer business from the Threxton Road industrial estate, is equally frustrated.

He said: 'I rang up BT and they said I needed to speak to the local office to be reconnected. I have been unable to get hold of them.

'They will not tell me when we will be back on.'

Gavin Cater, from Bryan Cater Coal Merchants in North Walsham, has also lost his phones as a result of Global folding.

He said he was losing money but, with another cold snap looming, he was worried about his elderly customers being able to get in touch to order fuel.

Shirley Lake, from B&B Skip Hire in Beccles, said the business was losing �3,000 a day while it was waiting for BT to reconnect it.

'It's devastating,' she said. 'We're using a company mobile and my personal mobile.'

She said that changing telephone company would mean the family firm would have to change its telephone number, saying: 'We've had the same number for 23 years - it's on all our vehicles and paperwork.'

She added that just 18 months ago the company paid �16,000 for a new telephone system with Global, which BT has deemed as obsolete.

A BT spokesman said: 'BT is doing everything possible to ensure Global Telecom and Technology Ltd customers can have their service restored as quickly as possible.

'We have put special arrangements in place and reduced the time to manage the standard switch-over process for lines that is currently industry regulated to 10 days for all service providers. The exact time taken to reconnect customers will depend on their individual requirements.'

The EDP was unable to contact anyone from Global Telecoms and Technology.

To contact Home James ring 07745 970979; to contact Aerolite ring 07932 774807; to contact Bryan Carter Coal Merchants ring 07860 137701; and to contact B&B Skip Hire call 07775 981449.

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