Swamped power company couldn't cope
LITTLE over one per cent of calls were answered by 24Seven staff during last weekend's gales, The Evening Star reveals today.More than half a million callers swamped the call centre on Sunday in a frantic bid to find out when their power would be restored.
By James Fraser
LITTLE over one per cent of calls were answered by 24Seven staff during last weekend's gales, The Evening Star reveals today.
More than half a million callers swamped the call centre on Sunday in a frantic bid to find out when their power would be restored.
Only 7,500 calls were actually answered by call agents and a further 67,000 calls were routed to a recorded storm message.
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On Monday it was the same story with 259,500 people trying to get through and only 7,800 were picked up by call centre operators.
The figures show that just 1.3 per cent of calls were actually answered on the first day of the power crisis, exposing a startling weakness in coping with the storm.
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A spokeswoman for 24Seven said it was impossible to speak to more than half a million people who called the company's helpline on Sunday.
She added that as of Friday, around 90 per cent of calls to the company were being answered.
The shocking statistic is sure to enrage the families still suffering in 2,000 homes in Suffolk as they wait for power to be restored to their homes, almost a week since storm-force winds tore down power cables.
Hundreds of engineers have been drafted in from across the UK and as far away as France to help combat the problem.
But all week angry customers have been fuming that they cannot get answers to find out when exactly their power lines would be fixed and many still face another weekend without power.
Marjorie MacFarlane from 24Seven said: "We've made good progress throughout the evening as we now have extra engineers who've been drafted in from France, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The number of those without power in Suffolk has halved and there are now 2,000 people.
"We're working hard to get the problem fixed and the current situation is that our non-engineering staff are making contact with those without power to offer advice.
"If you are without power, especially if other homes around you have their power back on, call 0800 7838 838 to let us know you are still without power."
Nick Akers, from 24Seven said that last Sunday 400 field engineers and technicians were called in and 100 call centre agents were working on Monday.
On a normal Sunday in the Eastern Counties there might be 30 field engineers and technicians with a further 48 on standby.
In the call centre on a normal weekday, only 10 agents would handle these type of calls, but on Sunday there were 65, he added
He denied that the system 24Seven had in place had failed and stated that they had been swamped by callers.
He said: "We have increased our capacity to handle calls during the week as our sister company Seeboard did not incur as much storm damage and have now got free call centre capacity.
"When our agents are busy calls are now directed to staff in Seeboard who are dealing with them."