HOMES, shops and offices in Westcliff have been left without phone connections after bungling workers pulled down BT lines while demolishing shops.
About 20 business and household phone lines and internet connections went down on Saturday, with users being told it could take weeks to get them back.
BT is diverting calls to customers’ mobile phones, while traders have had to resort to manual credit card machines.
Christine Wellham, manager of Halo hairdressers, next to the demolition site, said: “It’s causing us a lot of problems.
“BT has diverted our numbers and we are using a mobile broadband dongle for our online booking system, but it’s terribly slow and keeps cutting out.”
Ms Wellham is also concerned about the way the demolition work is being carried out. She explained: “We are right next door. There’s stuff falling down into our back yard when we go out there.”
Francina Kops, of nearby Encore Exclusive Menswear, said: “We didn’t have any notice of this demolition work. It has affected shops and the flats above them.
We’ve been told it could take weeks before we have our phone lines, internet and transaction machines back.
“It’s really affecting our businesses. We are having to do transactions on old card machines. Sometimes we get cut off three or four times before we get through.
“A lot of customers say they will go to get cash, then don’t come back while others are just leaving deposits. It’s really having a big effect.”
Hamlet Court Road residents have also been hit. One, who asked not to be named, said: “I have had no contact from BT.
Absolutely nothing. So I went down myself to ask the workmen, who said a cable had been cut through when they were demolishing the build ing. I don’t have the internet anyway, but I use the phone a lot and it’s having a big impact.”
Another resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I get my TV through the internet, so I have no broadband, no phone and no TV. I’ve had all the DVDs out for entertainment.
“We’re not even with BT, but it all runs on BT systems.”
A BT spokesman said: “We have suffered some third-party damage and cuts to our network cabling in the area, for which we have had 12 reported faults from people who have lost service.
“Engineers are planning all the repair work needed to replace this cabling.
“We will be doing all we can to get this done as quickly as possible, but we are not able to give a date at this stage.”
The demolition work is being carried out by Bayview Construction. The Echo approached the company, but got no reply.
LOST TRADE - AND NO APOLOGY
Businesses have been hit hard by cut phone lines, with many reporting fewer customers.
Card payments will not connect, a cafe has been unable to take phone orders and hairdressers are losing clients.
Beverly Ashwood of the Eliza boutique said it was like stepping back in time.
She said: “We are having to use a Dickensian-looking machine to take card payments.
People see it and are worried.
“We have to ring every transaction through to the bank which takes a long time, and then they all have to be physically taken to the bank.
“If people want to pay cash, we are sending them to the machine at Sainsbury’s, but as soon as they walk out the door, it gives them a chance to change their mind.”
Rakela Hair Fashion has sent all but one member of staff home because business is so slow.
Owner Roland Karaj said: “We have lost 80 per cent of our customers. Are the builders going to pay my staff? Is BT?
They are each blaming each other.
“A simple apology from the builders would have been OK, but I didn’t even get that.”