Elderly couple lost vital lifeline after BT fault

Elizabeth and Bobby Timm have been left without a working telephone after a fault on the line to their Plains Farm home
Elizabeth and Bobby Timm have been left without a working telephone after a fault on the line to their Plains Farm home
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A DEVOTED wife who cares for her poorly husband has told of her fears after her home phoneline was disconnected for five days.

Elizabeth Timm looks after husband Bobby, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease as well as heart problems, prostate and bone cancer.

The Plains Farm couple were left without a phoneline after a British Telecom fault.

It left Mrs Timm worried as her husband of more than 50 years suffered a number of blackouts in recent weeks, and has faced several trips to Sunderland Royal Hospital for treatment.

A temporary line has now been restored in the area while permanent repairs are carried out.

Mrs Timm, 77, said: “The phone is my lifeline.

“I keep a check on my husband as much as possible, but knowing our luck I thought he might have taken bad while the line was down.

“A neighbour said we were OK to use their phone if anything happened, but what if they were out?”

Mr and Mrs Timm’s daughter, Alison, who lives in Darlington but regularly visits her parents, called BT on their behalf to get the line reconnected, but claims an operator told her that her dad “is not ill enough” to be a priority case.

Ms Timm hit out at the firm for not reconnecting them sooner.

“It’s really upsetting for my mam and something she could do without at the minute,” said Ms Timm, who is 50.

After Ms Timm contacted the Echo, BT managed to reconnect the phoneline hours later.

The company say they have no record of what Ms Timm says the operator told her, but added that Mr and Mrs Timm’s case was not a priority because they are a couple and not one person living alone.

A spokeswoman for BT said: “We are very sorry for any worry or concern caused by the loss of Mr and Mrs Timm’s telephone service.

“To ensure we can deliver priority fault repairs to all our vulnerable customers we have in place a set of criteria which advisers go through with those requesting a priority repair.

“A key part of this criteria is whether or not the customer lives alone, which in this case they did not.

“This was explained to the customers’ representative by an advisor who made no reference to the level of the customers’ illness during the calls we have monitored.

“During a second call, a manager contacted the priority team and raised further concerns which resulted in a temporary service being restored while a permanent fix which requires excavation is undertaken.

“The account now has a marker on and a leaflet explaining how to avoid future issues by joining a pre-registered scheme has been sent out.”