Neath boss claims phone company mix-up led to job losses
BY RICHARD YOULE
A NEATH businessman has claimed a phone company mix-up has lost him months of trade and forced him to lay off two staff.
Recycling boss Kevin Thomas said he agreed to switched his landline and broadband from Sky to Orange last September, with one of the provisos being he could keep his landline number.
But he claimed the new landline, which he uses for work purposes, was installed more than three months late and that his number had changed.
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Both Orange and Sky said they followed correct procedures regarding the landline number.
Mr Thomas, the owner of K Thomas Waste/Recycling Ltd, said he reckoned the long spell without a landline and broadband connection had lost him three to five jobs per day.
His woes are due to be featured on this evening's ITV programme The Ferret.
"I have had to lay two boys off, and people have been asking me if I had packed up," said Mr Thomas, of Park Street, Tonna.
"It's devastating, to be honest. And there's all the phone calls I have to had to make (to Orange)."
The 48-year-old said adverts he had placed with his long-standing landline number were fruitless.
He said he originally agreed to switch landline and broadband to Orange on September 21 last year. The switchover, he said, was arranged by Orange for October 8. On that day he said his connection ended - but that nothing replaced it.
He said he contacted Orange, who said a new line had to be installed by BT Open Reach.
Mr Thomas said Orange told him on October 26 that there was a problem keeping his landline number, and that the earliest installation date would be December 13.
He said: "This was getting ridiculous, so I phoned Sky, but they said there was nothing they could do."
Mr Thomas claimed he was advised by Sky that Orange had got in touch with them two days after the October 8 switchover to request the landline number should remain the same.
When no engineer came on December 13, as apparently agreed, Mr Thomas notified Neath MP Peter Hain, who took up the matter.
Finally, on January 31 this year, a new landline and broadband connection was installed. Mr Thomas's landline and broadband provider is now BT. He has a different phone number than before.
He said: "BT tried to get my old number back, but it has gone into a 'pool' of numbers and can't be touched for six months."
Mr Thomas said he still spent £350-450 per month with Orange with his and his five employees' mobile phones.
A Sky spokeswoman said its service to Mr Thomas stopped on October 8.
An Orange spokeswoman said: "We followed our procedures correctly. For us to transfer the (landline) number, the previous supplier has to make it available to us."
According to communications regulator Ofcom, a customer's current phone provider must allow the number to be transferred to a new phone company.
"Whilst the new provider doesn't have to accept this request, it is in their interests to do so," said Ofcom. "They should also make all the transfer arrangements."