Farmer’s landline battle
The heavy rain came and took away Bhupinder Bains’ landline – sort of.
In the five weeks since, the 69-year-old dairy farmer has struggled with a phone which first couldn’t call city numbers, and now can’t even call down the road.
He can still receive calls at his rural address – halfway between Morrinsville and Gordonton – but that’s not the problem.
‘‘I’ve had health issues. I’ve had a heart attack, three minor strokes, a couple months ago I had pneumonia. I call the ambulance on my landline – if the cellphone isn’t charged, what do I do? This cellphone, I can’t trust it.’’
The landline, a lifeline, has now put Bains in a Kafkaeqsue state of disconnection.
Bains pays Vodafone just over $150 a month for a package which includes the landline, broadband and cellphone.
The cellphone is useful, sure. But at his age, Bains prefers using the landline to run his farm.
‘‘The technicians have been here, come and gone, and nothing’s done. They seem to have given up.’’
His landline produces a dial tone, but entering a number produces a 10-second crackle before dropping the call.
It’s taken at least 20 phone calls to Vodafone (Bains has never reached a manager over the phone) and three different technicians with different problems to explain the issue.
It’s a faulty line. No, a faulty exchange. The most recent reason – given last Thursday – a loose connection underground.
The technician said he would return. Bains instead received a text message saying: ‘‘good news’’.
The news was not good. He received a call on the landline from a Vodafone staffer, supposedly proving the fact the line was in action.
‘‘But that’s not the problem,’’ Bains repeats. His landline still denies his attempts to reach the outside world.
Stuff called Vodafone, to which the apologetic company responded by email:
‘‘We’ve been working with the technicians at Chorus and have tried many times to diagnose the issue.
‘‘Because the fault does not appear to be a common one, it has been more challenging than usual to diagnose the problem.’’
Vodafone had been in touch with Bains on Tuesday, and a hardware specialist is already being arranged to try to remedy the problem.
Waikato Age Concern executive officer Brent Nielsen said service providers – be it telephone or internet – were often directing people to new systems that older people struggled with.
‘‘Older people rely massively on communication . . . Old fashioned customer contact is really noticeable now, you notice it when you get it – it’s sorely missed.’’
Waikato dairy farmer Bhupinder Bains, 69, is frustrated after spending five weeks with a disconnected landline.