High Street businesses in Perth lost out on the crucial busy sales period after a problem with a BT Openreach cable left them unable to take card payments from customers for a week.
Twenty-one shops on the city centre street were without, or had limited access to, internet and phone lines from Boxing Day until New Year’s Day, with many taking a financial hit.
As well as affecting card payments, some shops were unable to process vouchers in the vital post-Christmas period.
The shops were originally told they may need to wait until January 6 or 7 for the problem to be fixed but on December 31 Openreach said they would try to fix the problem the following day – a week after the connection went down.
Caitlin Greenan, an employee at Mountain Warehouse, called the situation “exasperating” and complained that BT had not kept the shop updated on the situation.
She said: “We’ve had no phone or card machines whatsoever.
“We’re losing loads of sales from it. Some people have been really good going to the bank machine, some people just see the signs (saying cash payments only) and dump the stuff.
“It’s impossible to tell how much money we’ve lost. It’s really started to be down heartening. BT have been awful, we’re being left in the dark.”
Staff at Boots and New Look on the High Street spoke of similar problems as customers with Christmas gift cards were left unable to avail of the Boxing Day sales in their shops.
A New Look employee said: “We are currently looking into reviewing our sales targets at branch level because of the fault.
“A lot of gift card sales are affected because people come into get the Boxing Day bargains.
“So I was having to refer them to online or go to a bank so they didn’t miss out.”
A staff member at Boots said: “It’s affected everything.
“We couldn’t make any or take any external calls or get card payments or give loyalty card reductions.
“It’s definitely cost us money. We’ve had people walking out.”
On December 31 Perth and Kinross Council said senior management were allowing excavation work by BT contractors to go ahead.
A spokesperson for Openreach said: “We can confirm that a faulty cable is affecting service to some businesses on the High Street in Perth.
“In order to replace the damaged cable our engineers first need to dig down to repair a blocked duct.
“Having liaised with the local authority this will be completed on Wednesday (January 1).
“We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and would like to thank those that are affected for their patience while our engineers work to fix the fault.”