Openreach is failing to connect me

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I am a 75-year-old pensioner and have been cut off from broadband and landline since I moved into my new home in February. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to sign up with two internet service providers (ISPs), after my original provider was unable to connect me, and both blamed Openreach for a cabling issue at the local exchange. The previous owner had no issues with their service. I live alone and, as the mobile phone signal is poor, I feel very isolated.

SM, Banwell, North Somerset

Openreach’s response makes dismal reading. It told me that the technician it initially dispatched to connect your line needed access to a footway box in the middle of the road and decided to wait until the weekend, when there was less traffic. He forgot to return and so the order was cancelled. The good news is that Openreach found an alternative overhead connection; the bad is that before that could happen the order was again cancelled due to a “systems error”. And that’s where you were left until the advice site referred you to me. Within 48 hours of my contact, Openreach dispatched a new technician who told you there was no problem with the connection and got your landline up and running. Your broadband was sorted a few days later.

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Openreach has apologised for the “inconvenience”. The ISPs you signed up to must share the culpability here because, as Openreach does not deal directly with the public, they were your conduit and should have held Openreach to account.

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Tom Paton from Broadband Savvy says most people are connected by Openreach without issue, but that a lack of accountability can cause any problems to escalate. “In theory, Openreach troubleshoots any problems, and the ISP liaises with the customer,” he says. “In reality, Openreach doesn’t have a big incentive to fix issues quickly, and information gets lost in translation as it passes from party to party. If something goes wrong, it’s very easy for the process to become stuck.”

Had you not contacted the press, your route would have been a formal complaint to the ISP (the process for this is on each company website) and, if the matter remained unresolved after eight weeks or you received a letter of deadlock, an appeal to an alternative dispute resolution service.

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