Sidmouth man cut-off and left helpless

PUBLISHED: 20:31 24 March 2009 | UPDATED: 08:49 18 June 2010

AN ELDERLY Sidmouth man has branded his telephone provider scandalous after his phone was cut off for nearly two weeks - although he paid his bill three times. Peter Shephard, who turns 79 at the end of March, could not even use the pendant he wears ar

AN ELDERLY Sidmouth man has branded his telephone provider "scandalous" after his phone was cut off for nearly two weeks - although he paid his bill three times.

Peter Shephard, who turns 79 at the end of March, could not even use the pendant he wears around his neck, which is designed to contact a call centre when he presses it in an emergency.

Mr Shephard, of Winslade Road, was told by his service provider Pipex in February, which recently took over Toucan, that he owed the company £14.11 and he would be disconnected if he did not pay the amount.

Although he explained to the caller that he had already sent off a cheque he soon received another bill, which included the £14.11 they said he owed.

Mr Shephard, who was recently taken to hospital after falling in the town centre, said: "I just thought I'd let it go and sent a cheque off for the whole amount."

But on Thursday, March 5 Mr Shephard tried to ring out and found he had been cut off without any prior warning.

He was told that the cheques had not been received so he paid by debit card and was told it would take up to 48 working hours-or the equivalent of six working days to be reconnected.

Although annoyed, Mr Shephard waited patiently and regularly checked to see if his phone was working-but by Monday this week it was still cut off.

Mr Shephard said: "I think it is scandalous. When I tried to test my pendant alarm and it was out of action it really put me on my knees. I felt more helpless if anything were to happen."

After the Herald contacted Pipex on Monday, Mr Shephard received an apologetic phone call and was told that his phone line would be reconnected within 24 hours.

But a disillusioned Mr Shephard said: "I've been left without a phone for 12 days. It is a thing that should never have happened - I feel bitter and rankled."

A Pipex spokesperson said an "error" occurred with the cheque and Giro system after transferring Toucan customers to Pipex, and as a result Mr Shephard's payment was not received.

She added: "This bar has now been lifted and the error has been rectified. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to Mr Shephard because of this issue.

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