Reid criticises amount of time it takes BT to repair faults
Alan Reid MP told the House of Commons how a South Kintyre man has been kept on hold weeks on end by BT, during a major debate on rural phones and broadband.
"In the past two months, telephone companies, both landline and mobile, have failed miserably to keep many of my constituents in telephone contact with the rest of the world," said the MP for Argyll and Bute during the debate on Tuesday.
And he wants to see the government get tough with the telecom giant by tightening the rules.
"Following a storm in early December, some constituents are still waiting for their landline service to be repaired," Mr Reid told the Commons. "The experience of one constituent from South Kintyre is typical.
"He reported a fault in December. BT made an appointment for an engineer to visit on December 28. That appointment was not kept. It was the same on January 14 and 28. He is still waiting. He now has another appointment for this Thursday. I hope that this time the engineer will turn up and fix the fault.
"BT’s excuse is that it has declared MBORC, which stands for “matters beyond our reasonable control”. It claims that owing to exceptional circumstances, it is unable to meet its normal commitment times to provide a service or repair faults.
"It seems that by declaring MBORC, BT can also get away with not turning up for appointments. This is totally unacceptable. The engineers are clearly working flat out, often in difficult weather conditions, but BT clearly does not have enough engineers operating in Argyll and Bute."
Mr Reid added: "BT Openreach is in the privileged position of having a monopoly on landlines. It should not be able to dodge its responsibilities for months simply by declaring MBORC. Will the Minister look at the regulations again?"
"The universal service obligation is supposed to guarantee a landline service no matter where one lives, and my constituents are quite rightly fed up being told that if they lived in Glasgow their phone line would be repaired quickly, but that they will have to wait months because they live in a rural area.
"Heavy fines need to be levied for failure to repair faults in a reasonable time and for not turning up to appointments. If BT was faced with heavy fines, it would compel it to employ enough engineers."