Businessman’s month-long phone woes

Bob Brotchie, who has a business on the Lanwades business park in Kentford and whose phone signal is being severely affected by a Vodafone mast.
Bob Brotchie, who has a business on the Lanwades business park in Kentford and whose phone signal is being severely affected by a Vodafone mast.
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A businessman who spent thousands on advertising before suffering a ‘complete loss’ of phone service is relieved to be ‘up and running again’ - after almost a month.

When Bob Brotchie launched his counselling business in January last year, he contracted a ‘virtual landline number’ from Vodafone, enabling him to advertise as a local company but receive calls on his mobile phone.

Anglia Counselling operates out of Lanwades Business Park, in Kentford, but Mr Brotchie said a local mast owned by Vodafone stopped working on July 5, leaving his clients, many of whom are vulnerable, unable to contact him by phone.

“The loss of signal meant the number I’d advertised couldn’t be used by clients,” said Mr Brotchie, who estimates having spent around £10,000 advertising his virtual number.

The 49-year-old, from Mildenhall, helps people suffering with mental health challenges and says, as well as damaging his reputation, the month-long phone problem will have had a significant financial impact.

He said: “There’s a short window to capture people who finally take the leap of faith to call a counsellor and, if you miss it that day, they’re not generally in a mind to call back. You don’t want people to feel let down at their most vulnerable time.”

Desperate, he enlisted the help of the Bury Free Press (BFP) and his MP, Matthew Hancock. The service was restored on Tuesday.

“I’m really grateful to the BFP team for all their help, and to Mr Hancock,” he said.

Mr Hancock, who had urged Vodafone’s chief executive to take action, said: “These days small businesses can’t survive without mobiles, and Vodafone should be actively supporting small businesses, which are the lifeblood of our economy.”

On Wednesday, a Vodafone spokeswoman said: “Our local site developed a transmission fault on July 6. Our engineers were able to put in place a remedy yesterday. We’re sorry local customers have been inconvenienced.”