Farmer’s land­line bat­tle

Waikato Times - - Front Page - THOMAS MANCH

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.’’

PHOTO: KELLY HODEL/STUFF

Waikato dairy farmer Bhupin­der Bains, 69, is frus­trated af­ter spend­ing five weeks with a dis­con­nected land­line.

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