My 98-year-old mother’s phone line was transferred to Shell Energy last year after it took over the telecoms arm of the Post Office. My mother thought that Shell was a fuel supplier and concluded that, since she was with another energy supplier, the bills that arrived were scams. Because she didn’t pay them, her phone line, which also operates her panic button, was cut off in March. Shell was unable to reactivate the old account and claimed her number had been given to BT.
I arranged the reconnection with BT, but was later informed that her number had not been released by Shell. We were given a temporary number, but despite a month of daily calls to Shell and BT, there was no news on the number. We’ve now been told it’s lost and both sides now say that they can do nothing. AB, Sittingbourne, Kent
Your mother has had the same number for 70 years. It had sentimental value as it was her late husband’s work number and an anagram of his birthday, and its loss has cut her off from old friends and vital services. Both companies decided there was, in fact, something they could do once a headline loomed. Shell discovered that it still had the number and released it to BT, which connected it within a week and gave her a dedicated support contact. Both companies have apologised.Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditionsRead more on theguardian.com