BT has left me without internet and I need it for my heart monitor

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My mother, who is nearly 80, moved from one assisted living flat to another across the corridor on 9 December 2019.

She has a heart monitor which requires wi-fi and relies on her phone so was concerned to learn her BT broadband wouldn’t be reconnected until 18 December.

However, the 18th came and went and whilst she was given a new phone number, her broadband was not enabled. 

She is still living with a new number which no one knows including hospitals, GPs, friends and relations.

One reader’s mother was left unable to use her heart monitor after BT cut her broadband

The broadband was looked at on Christmas Eve but the engineer couldn’t fix it. 

Since this time, her broadband has only worked for three to four days in January before ceasing to work again.

I don’t know what to do as my mum needs the wi-fi for her heart monitor, to communicate and she needs her old number reinstated as she is missing important calls. What can we do?

Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: Your mother not being able to access medical equipment due to her internet connection not being reinstated after moving is concerning.

The slow response from BT is even more frustrating, especially considering this should be deemed as a welfare issue as your mother needs the broadband for her heart monitor to work.

Heart monitors that use wi-fi to send information to doctors are critical for those with certain heart conditions.

Unfortunately, your mother has been without broadband for nearly a month, including over the Christmas period, which not only put a dampener on the celebrations but also meant she was unable to access the same healthcare as usual. 

This has been a great source of upset and frustration for not only your mother but also you, as you have spent weeks trying to resolve the issue. 

Worry: Not being able to have access to wi-fi has left the reader's mother frustrated and upset

Worry: Not being able to have access to wi-fi has left the reader’s mother frustrated and upset

You claim that you have spoken to the engineer team which said the whole business was a ‘shambles’ and that her order should have been brought forward on that basis it is a welfare case.

Aside from needing broadband for her health, your mother is also paying for a service that she is not receiving.

Since the problems began, she has been given a mini hub, which is a compact, wireless device also known as mi-fi, by BT but this has stopped working multiple times.  

You have said that, despite contacting BT multiple times, no one ever comes back to you. 

Although you have been told of three case managers planning to call, you say none of them have. 

You also claim you have been hung up on five times – as has your mother.

Your mother’s phone is proving to be an extra problem as she is still stuck with a new number that not many people know, meaning she is missing many calls, even though she was told her old number would be transferred to the new property.  

Not long ago you were told that the case with her phone was closed as she has a landline number, although she requested to keep the same number. 

We contacted BT on her behalf and 11 days later it resolved the problems and gave us a statement. 

A BT spokesperson replied: We’re very sorry for the time it has taken to fully transfer Ms G’s services to her new address and for any inconvenience caused. 

After providing a mi-fi device to keep her connected we’ve now fully restored Ms Green’s broadband and her original number has been reinstated.

What can you do to resolve broadband problems? 

Dani Warner, broadband expert at uSwitch, replies: For many of us, a delay in getting a broadband connection up and running is an annoyance, but when vital equipment such as a heart monitor is reliant upon it, the need for reliable services becomes much more pressing.

Given you have recently moved, and were assured that the service would work in the new property, the onus really is on the provider to ensure that the broadband you are paying for is working to your satisfaction. 

A quick fix should not be seen as the end of the problem, especially give the ‘fix’ itself, is now not working.

Get back in touch and find out exactly why you are unable to receive a broadband service at your home. 

If the provider is completely unable to connect your property, then you may have to switch to another provider. 

But before doing so, make sure you speak to them to find out if – and when – they are able to deliver your broadband service, as the last thing you’ll want is to be stuck in this position again a couple of weeks down the line.

Should conventional wired broadband not work at your home, there are other options, such as 5G broadband and satellite broadband, which could offer you the opportunity to get a reliable connection in your home.

Whenever you are consistently unhappy with the service you are receiving, it is important to make a formal complaint to your provider. 

This will kick off the official process by which you’ll be able to take your complaint to the appropriate free and independent ombudsman service.

Mark Pocock, home communications expert at Broadband Choices, replies: When a problem with your broadband arises, always try to establish from the provider how long a fix will take, and how they intend to keep you informed on the progress, so that you can hold them to account if they do not keep to their deadline. 

Most broadband providers are signed up to the Internet Service Provider’s Association, which means that they are obliged to respond to any complaints raised within five working days, and resolve within ten. 

If this isn’t the case, you can then take up an official complaint with an Alternative Dispute Resolution, which all broadband providers must be signed up to. 

Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds: Fortunately the problem has been resolved and BT is sending your mother £216 for the inconvenience caused. She is now also on a discounted BT package. 

For others who are experiencing issues with their internet provider, Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, advises that your provider is the best person to speak to about this as they are the one who supplies your home.

There is now further support as most suppliers, including BT, signed up to Ofcom’s voluntary Code of Practice, which came into affect from March last year.

Many major suppliers use Openreach’s network, again including BT, and those who signed up agreed a deal with Openreach that if any delays to repairs or installations occurred, it would compensate the providers.

The providers would then use that money to automatically compensate their customers. 

Under the terms of the agreement, if an engineer does not arrive on time, or cancels within 24 hours, customers will receive £25 compensation.

If a service stops working and is not fully fixed after two working days, customers will then also be entitled to £8 a day in compensation.

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