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Mystery fault plagues elderly woman's landline for five years

Thursday, March 26th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

An elderly woman has spent the past five years stuck with a faulty landline, forcing her to disconnect it at night.

Dorothy Miller, 87, was dogged by a series of unsolicited early morning calls from a withheld number after she moved house in 2010.

When she answered the phone at her new address, the call yielded just a high-pitched beeping tone. If Mrs Miller chose not to answer, her voicemail quickly filled up so genuine callers could not leave a message.

Mrs Miller (pictured) and her daughter Julia Campbell, who both live in Achiltibuie in the Scottish highlands, tried repeatedly to get the problem fixed over the course of five years, but Ms Campbell told Cable.co.uk that BT was unable to help.

Her mother resorted to unplugging her home phone at night to avoid being disturbed – a move that left relatives worried it could prevent them getting in touch in an emergency.

Ms Campbell said: “Right from the start, she experienced problems with early morning calls – usually starting about 5am, and repeating for a couple of hours. When answered there was just a high-pitched beeping tone.

“The number was withheld and if she didn't answer it, the calls ended up in her mailbox.

“The mailbox was filling up every few days so she stopped deleting the messages – so nobody could leave a message. Bona fide callers were told the mailbox is full.

“She and I, and several other people, contacted BT, all to no effect. We were all fobbed off and sent round the houses.”

'Victim of a scam'

Ms Campbell said at one point her mother reported the problem to BT online, and was contacted the next day by a private company offering to fix the problem for between £30 and 40 a year.

She said her mother was concerned that it appeared a private company could easily fix a problem that BT seemed unable to, and feared as a result she could become the victim of a scam.

“As an elderly person living in a remote area, a phone is essential,” Ms Campbell added.

The village of Achiltibuie is located approximately 80 miles north west of Inverness, on the Coigach coast of Scotland.

Ms Campbell added: “However, she was so aggravated by these phone calls that she took to unplugging the phone all together.

“She has two, and always had the one nearest her bedroom – and therefore the most likely to be needed in an emergency – unplugged at night."

Ms Campbell said that patchy mobile coverage in the area means her mother relies on her landline.

She continued: “Fortunately she is still very able, but at 87 anything can happen. She is bound to become more dependent on communications and outside help as time goes on.”

After Cable.co.uk contacted BT, Mrs Miller received a call from the company suggesting the best solution would be to change her number. Within 24 hours, she was provided with a new number.

Her daughter told us: “I just hope we don’t get the same problem again.”

BT were approached for a comment, but were unable to provide one prior to publication.

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