When to give up


My father disliked using the phone. My mother did like a chat but had difficulty hearing us on her phone or in noisy locations like pubs and restaurants. She found a magazine advert for hearing aids and the end result of that was two digital hearing aids costing several thousand pounds which actually never helped and she ended up not wearing them.

My father died in 2006 and my mother in 2008 and I inherited the house. Something over a year later after having some pretty extensive modernisation work done on the house we moved in. I’d kept the telephone line on over that time – mostly because at first I hadn’t realised just how long building work can take to get completed and then later because it seemed cheaper to just keep paying the line cost than having a new installation although I think it’s possible to avoid those charges by taking on a lengthy contract.

We moved in and had ADSL broadband installed which ran well if not quite as fast as I’d hoped given how close we are to the exchange compared to our old house. Now I’m like my dear old dad and any phone conversation lasting more than a couple of minutes is too long but my wife and her sister can and do spend a long long time chatting to each other. My wife complained about crackling noises on the phone. Now as it happens I’d spent a while on some broadband forums and coupled with my background interest in amateur radio and electronics I knew what the causes were – a dodgy ADSL filter (so I swapped it) or a line fault known as an HR DIS in the parlence of the boys with muddy boots who fix the wretched things.

Now a fault affecting broadband has to be reported through the ISP and will involve a tedious process of checks before they will eventually call out BT because if it turns out to be the customers fault because of dodgy internal wiring or equipment such as the filters there is a hefty charge and nine times out of ten it is the customers fault. In this instance I already knew the cause – an HR DIS which is a bad joint somewhere on the route back to the exchange – these act like the crystal in an old crystal set and convert the ADSL signal (which uses a similar frequency range to MW radio) into audilble noise. As it was sometimes causing audible noise on the line I reported it as a voice fault  direct to BT. To cut a long story short BT still hadn’t fixed it after 5 visits and I lost patience with them.  As there was a good cashback deal for taking VM cable ending soon I cancelled the phone and the ADSL and moved to Virgin Media. The cashback paid for the termination costs with a little left over.

I found out later that non ADSL trained bods who you get for plain old phone faults have neither the training nor the kit to easily locate the dodgy joint so it’s going to be pure chance whether they actually find the fault or not.Now you’d think after a few unsuccessful fix attempts the BT system might flag ADSL as a possible cause but apparently that is not so.

Sometime later still I remembered those digital hearing aids that cost thousands and didn’t really help.

Some you win but in my experience not many.


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