Couple left ‘in danger’ with no phone access

Birgit Bendle SUS-180131-115628001
Birgit Bendle SUS-180131-115628001

An elderly couple have been left ‘in a dangerous situation’ after being cut off from their family without telephone access for three weeks.

Deer farmer Birgit Bendle needs constant telephone access to summon help for her diabetic husband Alan, 81, who also suffers from dementia and has frequent falls.

There is no mobile signal in the area near their rural home at Broadford Bridge, near Billingshurst.

Birgit, 77, says she’s been trying for three weeks to get action from BT who, she said, had promised repairs within 24-48 hours, but nothing had happened. She said she had previously been without a phone for five weeks.

“It’s driving me insane. I can’t live like this,” she said. In exasperation, she decided to end her BT contract and switch to satellite broadband - but was further incensed when BT sent her notice of disconnection fees of more than £160.

Meanwhile, Birgit’s daughter Katarina - who lives in Hong Kong - in an email to BT customer care MD Libby Barr, hit out at the length of time taken to repair her parents’ service.

She said: “BT provides a vital service that my parents rely on, so they may continue to live in their rural home in the countryside with some independence. If they are unable to contact emergency services or neighbours when they need help, this could result in devastating situations.

“I am incredibly worried and upset that BT would put my elderly parents in this dangerous situation.”

A spokesman for BT said: “We’ve spoken with Mrs Bendle and agreed to refund the telephone and broadband charges as a gesture of goodwill. We’re sorry that Mrs Bendle was billed for some services she didn’t use. Mrs Bendle has our contact details in case she needs to call us at any time in the future.”