Consumer: Phone customer left speechless after landline ‘hijacked’

Linda Hoult who had her telephone line 'hijacked'.
Linda Hoult who had her telephone line 'hijacked'.
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A Talk Talk customer was left speechless when her phone line of 15 years was ‘hijacked’.

Linda Hoult, from Seacroft in east Leeds, returned home on Monday October 22 to find her land line being used by an unsuspecting neighbour.

On finding she had no dialling tone, she used her mobile to call her home number and had the surprise of her life when someone living 100 metres away on Kentmere Crescent answered.

Neighbour Pamela Quick told Mrs Hoult she had been given the phone line by BT earlier that same day, having opened a new account with the telecoms giant.

Mrs Hoult contacted Talk Talk in a bid to have her telephone number, line and broadband connection reinstated, but was told there was no fault.

She called BT, who told her to speak to her service provider.

After being passed from ‘pillar to post’, the security supervisor decided to take action and cancelled her contract with Talk Talk as she feared she would be billed for someone else’s usage.

A final bill for line rental and broadband of £26.99 was sent by Talk Talk, said Mrs Hoult, which she paid - even though it covered a period of eight days when she had no service.

She was horrified when she tried to open a new account and was told she would be charged a £130 reconnection fee.

Mrs Hoult has never received a formal apology or explanation from either Talk Talk or BT as to what went wrong.

She has since reported the matter to the telecoms ombudsman and Consumerwatch.

The mum-of-three - who has a son posted with the British Army in Germany - said: “It’s been really really frustrating as no-one believed what I was telling them.

“They would say: ‘Your land line is live Mrs Hoult. There is nothing wrong with it’.

“Of course it was live, it was being used by my neighbour.

“What they didn’t seem to understand or care about is that I have a son who is due to be posted to Afghanistan any day now, and a disabled mother-in-law - both who rely on calling me on the land line.

“I’ve spent around £30 in calls to Talk Talk on my mobile trying to get this sorted out and I’ve not even had an apology.”

Asked why she decided to cancel the contract, she added: “They were telling me the line was there and I was making calls.

“It stressed me out as I wasn’t making those calls and I couldn’t possibly afford to pick up someone else’s bill.

“For an entire week I was receiving texts from Talk Talk saying they couldn’t find a fault with my line.

“I was in the meantime trying to open a new account - but they wanted to charge me £130 to reconnect my line.

“I kept calling and trying to sort this out.

“Then I received a text on the Friday from Talk Talk asking me to call as it was urgent. They told me I was using my land line as calls were being made - but it wasn’t me.

“I didn’t know what else to do so I called Consumerwatch.”

Consumerwatch called Mrs Hoult’s former phone number, but it has since been disconnected.

We tracked down Mrs Quick who said she had moved her service from Sky to BT on Monday October 22, and had asked to keep her existing telephone number.

Mrs Quick said: “It never worked. They told me to put a ‘2’ in front of my usual number but that number took me through to West Yorkshire Police.

“They then gave me a third number, and I started getting calls from people asking for Linda, including her son and finally Linda herself.”

Consumerwatch reported the problem to both Talk Talk and BT to see if Linda’s phone number could be reinstated.

Mrs Hoult received a call from Talk Talk offering to reconnect her for free, but it would take a further seven working days.

It was not clear if she would get her old number back.

Talk Talk also eventually offered to send a cheque for £25 by way of a ‘goodwill gesture’.

A spokesman for Talk Talk said: “Another company made a mistake and gave Mrs Hoult’s number to one of its customers. We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.”

A spokeswoman for BT said the issue had been nothing more than a ‘crossed line’, that was finally resolved on October 30 - the day Mrs Hoult closed her Talk Talk account.

A compensation claim against BT had to be made by Talk Talk, she added.

Call 0330 440 1614 for the communications ombudsman.

PIC: Simon Hulme

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