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Business declines for Stoke-on-Trent café after BT loses its phone number

Friday, July 17th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

A café bistro faces losing thousands of pounds after BT lost its phone number and left it without broadband for several days.

The owners of Zest Café Bistro in Stoke-on-Trent wanted to move from Sky to BT for a better broadband deal.

But despite telling BT they wanted to keep their landline number – which appears on all their advertising literature and is known to all their regular customers – it was cut off and they were given a new one.

Ian Norman, who owns the bistro with wife Dawn, said he has since been told that they may never get their original number back.

The mistake means anyone trying to phone up cannot get through. The bistro's broadband has also been off for several days, leaving Mr and Mrs Norman reliant on mobile data to access the internet, including their online booking system.

The bistro has already had to cancel two events that are usually fully-booked due to low numbers, and Mr Norman told Cable.co.uk it was difficult to know how much other business they have already lost.

“Everyone who knows us knows the number, all our publicity, our signage, loyalty cards, business cards, leaflets, brochures, posters – all of that carries the old number,” he said.

“This renders all of that useless.”

Mr Norman said he arranged at the end of June to switch from Sky to BT.

He asked for the switch to take place on 21 July and said he needed to keep their phone number, but on Thursday (9 July) their broadband and phone line were cut off and they were assigned a new landline number.

Despite calling BT repeatedly to get the problem fixed, days later the café is still stuck with a different phone number in a nightmare that Mr Norman has now been told may never be resolved.

He has tried to let potential customers know about the phone number problem via social media, but said it is impossible to know how much business the bistro has lost because of the mistake.

'Empty promises'

“That number might as well just be a public phone across the road for all intents and purposes.

“There’s an event coming up and we’ve had to cancel it. Normally it’s fully booked, but we have only had nine people book in because nobody can get through to us.

“I’ve had texts from people who know my personal mobile number asking what’s going on and why the phone is cut off.

“We’ve spent the last two years building up our business and this is a kick in the teeth.”

Mr Norman said he had phoned BT each day since Thursday, but had just been given “empty promises”.

The first few times he was told the problem would be resolved the following day, he said, then that it would take eight days, then later that it may never be resolved.

And when he called Sky to enquire about reactivating his old account, they said they no longer had the number either.

Once the situation is resolved, Mr Norman plans to launch a claim against BT for the money his business has lost because of their mistake, but at this stage it is hard to know how much that is.

“How can you quantify who has tried to phone you and hasn’t got through, and also the damage to our reputation?

“If someone is calling our number to all intents and purposes we have closed down. How can you quantify that damage?”

Cable.co.uk contacted BT for a response but had not received one by the time of publication.

On Thursday Mr Norman received a call from BT's chairman's office saying they were taking control of the situation, but as of today he still has the wrong phone number.

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