Mrs Tuck of Leam Lane Estate, Gateshead, 79, was left with no way of calling for help when BT cut off her phone line. She had just come out of hospital after a fall and was also coming to terms with the death of her husband George.
But she was left unable to make any calls when BT said she had failed to pay a £61 bill she never received. That meant emergency services could not be alerted by the grandmother-of-three if she got into difficulty.
And this month, BT added insult to injury by charging Mrs Tuck for their mistake.
BT added an £11.50 fee to Mrs Tuck’s April bill. The charge was for passing the account to their credit control department, after the non-payment of January’s phantom bill. Mrs Tuck’s son, George Jnr, is furious his mum was branded with bad credit for a mistake that wasn’t her fault. George, 50, said: “I was assured that this problem had been sorted out, but they charged mam again.
“BT imposed a fine of £11.50 for referral to their Credit Control division. An assistant explained it was due to mam’s disconnection for non-payment in January.
“I thought that the previous bill was bad enough, but for mam to live now with the belief she has been referred to a ‘bad debt’ agency leaves her a frightened elderly lady. BT have caused an elderly lady distress and expense at the very worst time in her life.”
BT apologised and refunded the charge, as well as three months’ line rental.
A spokesman said: “The £11.50 charge was raised automatically by the billing system after the advisor had dealt with the case. “However, this was incorrectly raised and has been removed from the bill.”
Mrs Tuck’s problems started in January when BT restricted her phone line, saying she had failed to pay her bill, which only arrived four days later. BT accepted the error and offered £100 in compensation.