BT could face legal action from Localtel over its poor response in switching customers over to the reseller's toll-free internet access service, Screaming.net.
Surrey BT reseller Localtel launched the service in partnership with Tempo on 29 April, but it emerged that BT was unable to transfer customers due to a 'lack of resources', as exclusively revealed in PC Dealer (26 May). Localtel has since officially complained to Oftel about the situation.
A representative for Oftel said: 'We are investigating. We met with BT before the official complaint and told it the situation was unacceptable and that it should sort the matter out.'
He added: 'If BT is in breach of its licensing conditions by stalling - either deliberately or inadvertently - then we would issue an enforcement order. If we believe BT then continues, Localtel would have grounds to claim for damages.'
Of the 50,000 customers that registered with Localtel, about 5,000 have been switched to the service. BT claimed it could only process 250 orders per day, although between 1,000 and 3,000 requests arrive daily.
Jeremy Stokes, managing director of Localtel, described BT's transfer rate as ludicrous, adding: 'Our customers are demanding the service that we offered. We have done everything in our power to deliver this service and are now waiting for BT to take steps to rectify the situation.'
In a letter from Localtel the week before the launch, BT was warned that between 2,000 and 2,500 customers per day would require a transfer.
It concluded: 'The purpose of this letter is to provide you with further advance notice so as to ensure that the appropriate procedures are in place.'
A representative for BT claimed that more resources were being added but refused to put a figure on the number of customers being switched per day.
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