BUSINESS has been put on hold for worried traders left waiting for answers after a near three-week phone and internet black out.
Shop bosses on Whitburn’s East Street have made an urgent call for action after feeling “left in the dark” by BT.
The fault on the BT Open Reach line has not only cut out vital phone and internet services, but also cash machine and credit card processing systems which are key to day-to-day business.
The telecom troubles were sparked by water damage to a cable, but gas was detected in the area where engineers were due to start work, forcing repair plans to be temporarily shelved.
BT has apologised for the delay – which has left businesses and many residential properties without services since Saturday, October 6 – but are unable to give a date when shops will be back in business.
Wendy Chambers, proprietor of Paper Moon Gifts, is desperate for a solution to be found to bolster sagging trade.
Wendy’s phone provider is Talk Talk, but the mobile firm rely on a line in the BT Open Reach coverage area.
She said: “There’s been no line since two weeks last Saturday. It means no phones, no cashpoint, no card processing and no internet.
“I’ve had three different reasons for the fault from three different people.
“We haven’t had anybody just come down and give an explanation.
“I’ve had to transfer cash from my personal account to prop up the business.
“Business is already tight as it is in a recession.”
Businesses had been able to send customers to a nearby cash machine as an alternative to using card services, but that has also fallen victim to the fault.
Steve Owen, owner of Owen Technical Services, added: “I’ve had no phone line and now have no access to my email account.
“You don’t know if potential new clients have been trying to get in touch.
“We’ve all been left in the dark over it.
“If this happened in Westminster they’d soon get it fixed, but because it’s happened here in Whitburn, it seems like they don’t care.
“Not having internet means I can’t access important documents on my email account, such as building control and planning. I switched my business line to my mobile, but it was only last week that I got my first business call for over two weeks.”
A BT spokesperson said: “We would like to apologise to customers without phone service in the East Street area of Whitburn.
“A cable has been damaged by water intake due the recent bad weather. Unfortunately gas has been detected within the area engineers need to work.
“This needs to be investigated and if necessary made safe before engineers can continue the repair. Those affected should contact their service provider to arrange diverts to mobile phones where possible. Once the area is safe we will restore service as quickly as possible.”
A spokesperson for Talk Talk added: “Customers in the Whitburn area may be experiencing disruption because of severe water damage to cabling at the local exchange.
“Engineers are working to restore a full service and we apologise for any inconvenience.”