ANGRY traders have branded a phone company “absolutely ridiculous” for its delay in fixing a damaged cable.
Businesses in Poulton Road, Carleton, claim they are out of pocket to the tune of thousands of pounds because they are unable to process card transactions in their shops.
Now they say they are considering legal action against BT, which is responsible for the cable that has been broken since last Tuesday morning.
Around 60 customers in Poulton Road and Blackpool Road are currently without a land line service.
Andy Molloy, 43, who owns Carleton News, says his takings are down £1,500 over the weekend and described BT’s failure to restore the service “outrageous”.
Mr Molloy said: “People are being fobbed off and a lot of businesses are really suffering for it, it’s absolutely ridiculous.
“I’ve lost a lot of money.”
He says the lack of service has particularly affected elderly people in the area for who a land line is their only form of communication.
He added: “Elderly people are coming in (to the shop) upset because they’re worried relatives are worried about them. It’s getting to the point where it’s beyond a joke.”
BT says it has put in place a temporary service whereby land line calls are rerouted to affected customers’ mobile phones.
However, Tony Marsh, who owns Anchorsholme Car Sales, says the service is unreliable and believes his lost earnings could run into five figures due to potential customers being unable to reach him.
He said: “I haven’t received anything like the volume of calls I usually receive.
“I could have lost tens of thousands of pounds worth of business.
“Even if they could get through I couldn’t take credit or debit card payments anyway, so I’m not happy.”
Mr Marsh says he may consider a compensation claim against BT.
He added: “I would hope we could do it as a group thing.”
Peter Lucas, 48, owner of Carleton Pharmacy, said: “We can’t accept fax prescriptions from nursing homes and surgeries.
“We’re having to run around to make sure people don’t go without.”
BT says it needs to replace 70 metres of water-damaged cable. It is thought water got into the underground cable chambers during the recent downpours.
A BT spokeswoman said: “We would like to reassure them that everything possible is being done to restore services as quickly as possible to those affected.
“Obviously we apologise due to these unforeseeable circumstances.”