Connected – but still a farce

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The frustration of residents in Vidler Square is beginning to ease: BT has finally dug its holes or unblocked them and the telephone – invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 – is trickling into new homes on this part of Valley Park, Rye, in the year 2015.

“I have a landline! Only took 11 weeks!! Now I have to wait for broadband,” was the email sent by resident Anne Grainger to Rye News on Tuesday April 7 at 18:17.

Grainger didn’t have the longest wait. Some moved into the Square before Christmas and, months later, were still without a landline. When they compared notes, many of the neighbours found that they had the same BT complaints contact: Keiran Farrugia. But Farrugia, they said, did not keep them informed or updated. On one frustrating day, Grainger wrote to me: “I tried to telephone Kieran on three separate occasions. All have gone straight to voicemail.” Her neighbour Damien Martin wrote: “Useless bunch. Kieran won’t answer calls or mail. Fed up with them.”

Martin, unaccountably and wholly unexpectedly, found himself with a working landline before the Easter weekend. Unexpected because BT had told some residents in the Square that a connection wouldn’t be made until the end of April. Martin then phoned BT to try to order broadband only to be told that he couldn’t do so because an engineer hadn’t confirmed the connection. “He pointed out that he was phoning them from his landline but they still wouldn’t have it,” said Grainger. “You couldn’t write it!”

Martin added: “It was total farce. They say our phone isn’t working so I can’t place an order for broadband. I point out I am phoning from the phone but they tell me the computer says it is not.  They said we should expect an update in 2 weeks.”

Rye News first published the story of Vidler Square’s plight on March 27 [Where BT Infinity takes an eternity]. Shortly afterwards both Grainger and Martin noticed BT Openreach engineers at work. She commented: “I’m not sure that anything we have done has made a difference but it seems a big coincidence to me that the day we go to press is the day they leap into action! Regardless of what else happens I am going to the Ombudsman. The situation is appalling and BT must pay, particularly to those like you [Damien Martin] who have been stranded for so long.”

Grainger is determined on one issue: compensation. “I have increased mobile costs, have had to upgrade my phone and renegotiate my mobile contract and I am paying for Sky services that I can’t receive.”

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