Postmaster comes to rescue of customers

A VILLAGE postmaster is having to dip into his own pocket so elderly residents can have their pension money after a week-long fault to a telephone line.

A VILLAGE postmaster is having to dip into his own pocket so elderly residents can have their pension money after a week-long fault to a telephone line.

Alec Gardner, who runs the post office in East Bergholt, has so far handed out £340 in loans to regular customers since the broadband internet connection went down last Thursday.

Although the line is provided by communications giant, BT it is the Post Office Ltd's responsibility to organise for an engineer to fix the problem.

A spokesman for the company said workmen were due to visit by last night so the fault could be rectified.


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The situation has created problems for pensioners who have been unable to collect their money. Regular customer Norma Grimsey, 83, said she had to borrow £40 from her daughter just so she could pay her telephone bill.

She said: “It has been very difficult for a lot of people and is extremely inconvenient. All I have is a little scooter so I can't travel anywhere else to get my money.”

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Mr Gardner confirmed there had been difficulties with the line and said he could fully appreciate his customers' concerns.

He said: “The broadband system first went down last Thursday morning. I tried contacting the relevant people all week but no one came out.

“Because everything is now done electronically through the computer systems it means many of our customers have been unable to collect their pensions.

“I fully sympathise with them because it is unacceptable that they have had to wait this long to get their money.

“As a result, and to try and alleviate some of their worries, I've been giving out loans to regular customers and making a list so they can pay me back when things return to normal.

“However because I can't use Post Office money I've been doing it from my own pocket, which has so far cost in the region of £340.”

John Hinton, chairman of East Berholt Parish Council, said: “It is extremely public spirited of Alec to give out his own money and we thank him for that but at the end of the day he shouldn't have to do it because the Post Office should have got the problems sorted in a flash.”

A spokesman for Post Office Ltd apologised for the inconvenience caused to customers and said BT had been notified of the fault to the connection.

He said: “It is a BT Broadband line but as it is a Post Office system we are responsible for clearing up any faults that may occur. An engineer will be down to visit the office.

“There are other post offices nearby at Langham, Stratford St Mary and Ardleigh and of course customers can visit any of these to do their business but we fully expect the fault to be rectified soon.”

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