BT's Reply to 2,700 Gripes - 'Embock'; as BT Employees Prepare to Go on Strike over Pay, Writer and BT Customer PETER ALMOND Writes an Open Letter to BT Chief Executive Ian Livingston Explaining Why They Have His Sympathy
Byline: PETER ALMOND
I see you have accepted a [pounds sterling]1.2million bonus for returning BT to profit this year.
'Well done,' I might have said, except you've done it partly by charging me and my neighbours for a telephone service we haven't received; by trying to wriggle out of paying compensation; by barely informing the public and police of events; and otherwise by failing to keep your own staff informed.
Now I begin to understand why they might be preparing to go on strike for the first time in 27 years.
One night three months ago thieves pulled up a couple of manhole covers near my local telephone exchange near Esher, Surrey, and stole 3,500 copper wires worth [pounds sterling]70,000. This cut telephone and internet services to me and 2,700 residents and businesses.
The story, reported prominently by The Mail on Sunday on March 21, said this was the latest of some 60 such copper telephone wire thefts in Britain this year.
Working from home, I was unable to use my two telephone lines, fax and broadband internet for almost a week. I know I lost business. My local fire station was affected. Elderly neighbours were left vulnerable. It was the single greatest crime to have directly affected our lives in 25 years.
But we received no leaflets of explanation or apology, no followup calls, and there was doubt that BT had reported the theft to the police at all. Weeks later a police inspector did find the crime report - but listed under 'theft other (not coded)'. To their credit, BT officials say they are lobbying the Home Office to recategorise thefts of precious metals.
'It's not just copper cables, it's all kinds of metals,' said our local inspector. 'We're getting increased thefts of catalytic converters from cars ... because of the high-value metals in them. They're after new TV sets just to get their metals.' BT admits it doesn't make a priority out of local public and police co-operation because the main effort is against the middle- men and organised gangs.
Operation Eiger, say officials, is a BT operation that goes through British Transport Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers to examine links between metal-theft arrests. …