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LocalTel MD blasts BT

Embattled telco's troubles caused by giant's blunder

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Jeremy Stokes, the MD of Surrey-based telco LocalTel, says the blame for the problems that have plagued Screaming.net over the last four months lies squarely on the shoulders of BT. He told The Register how BT's inability to handle the transfer of BT customers to LocalTel caused confusion, disruption and untold misery for many of his customers. "If BT had done what they should have done, we wouldn't have had 80 per cent of the problems we've experienced. Instead of handling customer enquiries and growing our business we've spent the last three months firefighting," he claimed. His comments support a ruling last week by watchdog Oftel which concluded that BT failed to provide a proper service to LocalTel. An eight-week investigation into complaints found that "defects in the transition process were causing major problems for consumers" with some being left without a telephone for up to 33 days. Stokes is seeking compensation from BT for the damage to his business, but he acknowledges that any amount of money won't repair the damage done to LocalTel's reputation. However, things are now improving. The company claims to have 150,000 users and currently handles more than one hundred million minutes of Internet call time a month. It is planning to launch its redesigned portal within the week and has plans to offer cheaper dial-up Internet access during the day. LocalTel is also in the process of opening a dedicated call centre in Ramsgate. The centre will be open in six weeks' time and employ up to 50 people. Stokes also confirmed LocalTel was also in talks "two other major telcos" about possible future partnerships. ® Related Story Screaming.net takes legal cudgels against 'copycat' ISP

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