Faulty landline triggers 'panic mode' for stroke patient

Author
Tess Nichol,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 16 May 2018, 5:39PM
Shiree Mackay says she's at her wits end with the issue and just wants Chorus to fix it once and for all. (Photo / Peter Meecham)
Shiree Mackay says she's at her wits end with the issue and just wants Chorus to fix it once and for all. (Photo / Peter Meecham)

The family of a man terrified his faulty landline will fail him if he has another stroke say they'll believe Chorus' promises to fix the problem for good when they see it happen.

79-year-old Richard Mackay and his family said after a string of temporary fixes they were losing faith in the company.

Chorus has pomised a permanent solution by Friday.

Mackay lives alone rurally in Tinopai, near Dargaville, with no internet or cell phone reception and his nearest relatives are his children in Auckland.

He relies on his Spark landline to connect to his St John medical alarm as he has recently suffered a series of strokes and seizures.

But a fault in the copper line owned by Chorus has caused issues with the line's reliability for years, which has become worse in recent weeks.

The Herald first reported on the problem in late April, and Chorus sent a technician to fix the line immediately.

But the technician did not fix the underlying issue, which was that the box the line connects to is corroding and easily compromised, especially in wet weather.

When the line can't take outward calls, Mackay's St John medical pendant beeps, showing there's no connectivity.

This means if Mackay were to use the pendant if he started to suffer a stroke or seizure, there would be no signal and emergency services would not be alerted, leaving him alone in his house without help.

"I rely on [the phone for] having my contact with the outside world and not being well I could have a stroke or a seizure at any stage," Mackay said.

"If I can't get help I'm in a bad situation."

Richard Mackay, pictured with his granddaughter at his house in Tinopai near Dargaville, said he would believe Chorus' promises when he saw them.
Richard Mackay, pictured with his granddaughter at his house in Tinopai near Dargaville, said he would believe Chorus' promises when he saw them.

Chorus has sent a technician out three times in the last three weeks and each time the problem has been temporarily fixed, only for the line to play up again a short while later.

A technician was at the property making the third temporary repair today.

A Chorus spokesman acknowledged the entire box servicing Mackay's line needed to be replaced, promising a new box will be installed by Friday which should fix the problem permanently.

He apologised again to Mackay and his family, saying Chorus "could and should have done better".

"While we have been working quickly to deploy the new cabinet, there are simply no excuses for what has happened with their connection in the meantime.

"It's not good enough and I apologise to Richard and his family who are understandably frustrated waiting for a fix."

Mackay's daughter Shiree Mackay said she was at her wits end with the "bandaid solutions".

She and Mackay said they would believe Chorus was permanently going to fix the problem when they knew the new box had been installed.

Shiree Mackay was worried if the line wasn't permanently fixed soon the stress would impact her father's health further.

"I'll believe it when I see it. This is the third time they've said this and it's just… it's dad I'm worried about.

"When dad knows the phone isn't going he goes into panic mode."

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