Telecoms carrier Colt has promised to launch an investigation after thousands of customers were affected by a breakdown in the Demon Internet service. Demon blamed Colt's failure to cope with the pressure on its lines.
James Gardiner, marketing manager at the Internet service provider, said many users trying to access Demon over the past week got a recorded message saying "there is a high demand for that number. Please try later".
When Demon staff investigated last week, they were stunned to discover that, for a week, Colt had requested BT to "call gap" - provide a recorded message to block three calls in every 12 to reduce the pressure on Colt lines.
"What annoyed us is that Colt failed to tell us it was planning to do this. We have alternative lines with Energis that we could have advised our customers to use while Colt needed to call gap," Gardiner said.
He added that, although the incident did not cost Demon customers anything, the recorded message meant it was impossible for them to automatically redial, which was a major inconvenience.
"Most customers would not think to blame the comms company and we did not know it was happening until we were told. It just looks bad on us," he said.
Gardiner doesn't know how many customers were affected by Colt's action as Demon's system does not register customers until they enter its network. But with Demon responsible for more than three per cent of local calls, the figure is likely to be in the thousands.
Colt has since agreed to remove "call gapping' and has redistributed calls to Demon more evenly around its network to reduce the pressure.
Colt president Paul Chisholm has promised an immediate investigation into what he called "an oversight".
"Demon should have been told that we were call gapping, as it is certainly our policy to inform everyone. This is not how we operate," he said.
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