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'BT's digital voice switchover has cut me off. Can you help?'

What you can do if you have problems with BT's digital voice switchover

Do you have an issue you need put right? Which? is here to help get your consumer problems sorted.

Dear Which?,

My wife and I have been left without any means of communication. 

After switching to BT's Digital Voice, I've been regularly left unable to use my landline due to the frequent power cuts. I live in a rural location so I also have a poor mobile signal. 

I saw your article on BT's Digital Voice switchover (Which? Computing, June, p5) and so contacted BT. 

After being promised a battery pack to solve the issue,  I then had to chase BT again when it didn’t arrive, only to be told that no battery pack had ever been ordered and it would cost me £85 for one to be sent out.

This surprised me somewhat as my loss of communication is through no fault of my own. Can you help?

Rob M, location withheld

Put to Rights

Daljinder Nagra, Which? Senior Researcher, says:

This is an incredibly frustrating situation to be dealing with, Rob, and you're certainly not alone here. BT paused its Digital Voice switchover (ie moving landlines from the old copper network to digital lines) due to the disruption it was causing to customers, such as those living in rural areas being left unable to use their phones during a power cut.

We raised this issue with BT, asking why Rob had been told he’d need to pay for a battery pack, despite its obligation to ensure that customers can access emergency services in the event of a power outage. 

BT confirmed that Rob shouldn't have been asked to pay. It said: ‘We’re really sorry [Rob] had trouble getting a battery backup unit from us. We’ve spoken to him and sent him one free of charge.’

Rob has now received the battery pack, but it’s unacceptable that he was left without reliable communications for an extended period due to a BT error. We’d like all landline providers to do more to ensure vulnerable customers are not disadvantaged by the move to digital phone services.

Need to know

  • If you're having problems with your Digital Voice service, BT's troubleshooting guide has some tips to try out first. 
  • If you're still having problems, then you should contact BT directly to complain.
  • Broadband and landline customers can get automatic compensation for service problems that include delayed repairs or delays to the start of a new service, find out more about automatic compensation
  • If you've been without service for some time, then you're entitled to leave your contract without penalty.

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This article originally appeared in Which? Computing magazine as part of our Put to Right series that investigates readers' problems.

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