BT customers want talks on network failure (UK) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Breaking News 2/28 7:40 CST Email this article

BT customers want talks on network failure

LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Corporate customers of British Telecommunications Plc. said on Monday they were seeking urgent meetings with the company over a major network failure that blocked hundreds of thousands of calls on Friday.

BT said it fixed the fault at 0230 GMT on Saturday and its gateways for routing non-geographic calls, special tariff numbers used by customer service centres, were fully operational.

But a spokesman said it would not say what caused the problem, which began on Friday morning, until it had completed its investigations. He said it will consider compensation for businesses affected by the fault.

Companies said their first priority was to meet BT to get assurances that the problem would not happen again.

"What surprised everybody was the speed with which this happened and that it wasn't fixed quickly," said a spokeswoman for National Westminster Bank Plc., whose customer service lines were inundated with calls on Monday from people unable to get through on Friday. "Everybody's been a bit shocked by it." She said it was too early to say if it would claim compensation.

"We'll certainly be looking to sit down with BT to discuss what went wrong and to seek assurances that this won't happen again," said a spokeswoman for BG Transco Plc, the distribution arm of Britain's biggest gas company BG Group Plc .

The company was evaluating the cost of resources it used to track blocked calls to its emergency lines, but said it was too early to talk of compensation.

The fault struck at an embarrassing time for BT. It blocked calls to many Internet service providers as a row with the government over improving access to the Web bubbled on.

It also struck a day after BT announced plans to boost its 27 percent share of the UK's 226 million pound ($360.3 million) call centre industry.

But analysts said the debacle was more likely to hurt its already battered image than its business.

"I can't imagine them losing many customers in the long term, but it's rather unfortunate timing," said Paul Mount of Nomura International Plc.

BT's shares have been beaten down this year partly on dismay over the loss of UK residential customers to competitors. They were 2.8 percent softer on Monday at 11.21 pounds.

(US$1 = 0.6273 Pound)

-- Homer Beanfang (, February 28, 2000

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