Black Isle customers hit ‘wall of silence’ with broadband internet collapse
Kate Forbes: ‘Wall of silence’. ANGRY Black Isle broadband customers left without a connection for more than a fortnight are fuming that their frequent complaints have been ignored by their Lincolnshire-based provider. Businesses claim they have lost trade since the AB Internet service went down at the start of May and users say they have had difficulty getting any sensible explanation from the company.
The provider has blamed BT for the problem, but this week BT made it clear there was no fault in the area. Local MSP Kate Forbes has described the firm’s attitude as a “wall of silence”. Householders and businesses have turned to AB Internet’s radio service because they are unable to get a service through normal phone lines due to their rural location.
The company’s website promises that it delivers superfast broadband “across rural Britain”. Referring to the ongoing loss of service, Graham Clark, who lives at Easter Kinkell, said: “It’s very frustrating when you have no internet connection at home.
“The biggest problem is lack of communication from AB Internet.
“I must have phoned 10 times in the past fortnight and got no response.” Mr Clark said he had been a customer for six or seven years and was currently paying ?35 a month for the service. Kinkell House Hotel manager Jamie Maclennan said he had logged 21 calls with the company with “not a single call returned”.
“We have undoubtedly lost some business, it’s not acceptable in this day and age,” he said.
A conference booked at the hotel which needed a wi-fi connection had to be cancelled, with no guarantee that the organisers would re-book.
“It’s been terrible, and the support service has been non-existent,” he said.
“I have to drive to my parents’ house four times a day to pick up my emails to check bookings and we can’t take card payments from customers – it’s been terrible.”
AB Internet drew attention to the loss of broadband service on the Black Isle on its website on May 2, with a restoration date promised “in approximately three working days”. But as we went to press the service was still down. A Rootfield householder, who asked not to be named, said she believed hundreds of Black Isle people had been affected by the outtage.
She said: “There has been a total lack of communication from the provider. We received no information whatsover and it is blaming it on a BT – it’s disgusting.
“Last week we could at least get through to AB Internet, but this week you just get an engaged tone.”
The householder added: “I feel particularly sorry for the kids who are sitting their exams and won’t be able to get online.”
Furious postings from Black Islers on AB Internet’s Facebook page tell a similar sorry tale of woe about the lack of service in the past two weeks. Simon Jolly said on May 9: “It would appear the whole of the Black Isle is down with no sign of it coming up any time soon.
“Absolutely pathetic state of affairs.” Colin Lawrence, chairman of Ferintosh Community Council, highlighted the difficulties for residents with mobility issues who did their shopping online and were now unable to do so.
“It disrupts people’s lives when they don’t have an internet connection,” he said.
A BT spokesman said: “We have no faults on the Openreach network in those areas.
“Anyone with another service provider should report any faults to that provider.”
Black Isle constituency MSP Kate Forbes has escalated the issue in the Scottish Parliament. She said: “The last correspondence I had with the company was on Monday, May 8 when a member of staff at AB Internet promised my office that the internet service would resume within five working days. This has not happened.
“Since then I have left voicemails and written emails to AB Internet but have had no response at all.”
She added there hadn’t been Facebook updates by the company since Wednesday, May 10.
“It is completely unacceptable to be putting up a wall of silence to paying customers when AB Internet’s service is not delivering,” she said.
Repeated attempts to contact AB Internet for a comment were unsuccessful.