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Landline Phone Problems

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I know there are a few ex-GPO types on here so I'll run this past your collective knowledge:

I was with my supported user on Monday, late afternoon, when she picked up the phone to do a 1471 and found it dead. We had exchanged calls earlier in the morning so it was fine then - something happened in the mean time. As far as she was concerned, it had to be the phone broken and needing a new one!

No, I said, it's a problem on the line. Ringing in (from mobile) produced the strange symptom that the call just ended immediately - no ringing tone - even with the phone unplugged. There's a master socket and nothing else.

We didn't have much time, but I looked up BT fault reporting and found an on-line chat facility. Went through a load of nonsense about me not being the subscriber but representing the subscriber (knee-jerk over-sensitivity to privacy issues, when there are really no privacy issues in reporting a fault), but eventually got a line test... no fault. Okay, well, I suppose it could be a failed phone (not!), I'll carry on the investigation tomorrow.

Back at home I looked out a disused corded phone ready for the next day. Better check it... dead! Hmm. Found another (identical model, both bought when belatedly upgrading to tone dialling on all the phones instead of just some, and both subsequently made redundant when broadband was installed when replaced with DECT to strip down the internal wiring)... this time working.

Took it over Tuesday (yesterday), plugged it in, got the expected result: no change.

On to chat again. Through the riggamarole again. This time they wanted my DoB and mother's maiden name, as well as the subscriber's full details (WtF???). They ran a line test (again). This time they found a fault. You need an engineer. We need to authorise this with the account holder. Can you put her on? Not really, no! (She's 86 for christ sake.) Can you ring my mobile to speak to her? We have no access to making a call, you'll have to ring in yourself. Give me a fault reference.

So I rung in. On hold for ages, gave up and went to dinner, try again later. Tried again much later (supposed to be 24/7), on hold for ages (no music this time thank god), got through to somebody with a very Indian sub-continent accent and I had to listen carefully. Put madam on the line just to authorise me dealing with it and she could hardly understand at all.

Look, I said: if you ring the number, you'll find it drops out straight away with no ringing tone. That says exchange fault to me, presumably the line card. I'll try it, he said... yes, you're right (I know), let me run a line test (arrgghhh!). There's a fault, we'll have to send an engineer - but first try the socket inside the master socket. Okay (as if)... no difference (dead, dropped line on ring-in).

So now they are sending an engineer Thursday morning, who might start at the exchange end and not actually come at all. Am I right? Or does a modern exchange system detect a line fault and respond by dropping the call?

BT (and all other call centres interfacing with the public for essential services such as this): you need to work on accessibility. Madam is by no means incapable, but suffers from the normal degradations that accompany old age - lack of experience with the Internet (and insufficient dexterity to use it efficiently even if she were), reduced hearing, degraded vision for close reading, reduced mental agility. She can get by generally - goes shopping, picks up the phone to speak to people when she needs to - but how would she cope if she had to get through this herself (needs somebody without a difficult accent and who speaks at 1200 baud instead of 19200), and how would she even contact you in the first place with a dead phone?
 

Wallace

Traveler 34122
The engineer might well start at the exchange. That way one can rule out any external line factors. However, my money is on some external issue. It sounds like ‘ring-trip’ which is usually a damp joint/connection.
You said that you tested from the main (master) socket. Did you remove the faceplate and plug your test telephone into the test socket that removing the faceplate reveals? It is quite possible due to the age of the installation that this is not possible.
As you are most probably aware, the main line in should connect directly to the master socket (NTE5) and any internal wired extensions should be terminated onto the removable faceplate of that socket. It is a means of isolation so that when testing, issues with old wiring etc can be ruled out. Old installations might not be wired this way. Is there any other internal cabling involved?

I am sure that they have made you aware that if the issue is within ‘your’ premises, that there will be a charge.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
Did you remove the faceplate and plug your test telephone into the test socket that removing the faceplate reveals?
Yes
first try the socket inside the master socket. Okay (as if)... no difference

Is there any other internal cabling involved?
There's a master socket and nothing else.

However, my money is on some external issue. It sounds like ‘ring-trip’ which is usually a damp joint/connection.
That's the kind of thing I was driving at - whether the exchange line circuit has the "intelligence" to react differently when there is a line fault.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I looked up "ring trip" and found this: http://www.strowger.com/faqs/ring-trip.html

I take that as meaning it's the ringing current that causes the trip and the dropped call (there is no opportunity to intercept - the call hangs up immediately). However, for there to be a lack of dial tone but no fault at the exchange, I presume there must be a break or a dead short which does not seem to correlate with ring-trip... and ought to have been immediately spotted first time the line test was run. Alternatively the off-hook detection isn't working, but again that's either a fault in the phone (eliminated by substitution) or a fault at the exchange.

Please note I am not dogmatic about this - I am well aware long bits of wire with joints can produce all manner of funny effects that defy the service manual.
 

EEPhil

Number 28
Madam is by no means incapable, but suffers from the normal degradations that accompany old age - lack of experience with the Internet (and insufficient dexterity to use it efficiently even if she were), reduced hearing, degraded vision for close reading, reduced mental agility. She can get by generally - goes shopping*, picks up the phone to speak to people when she needs to - but how would she cope if she had to get through this herself (needs somebody without a difficult accent and who speaks at 1200 baud instead of 19200), and how would she even contact you in the first place with a dead phone?
I know what you mean - I have a similar problem with my mother (* although she has difficulty with that bit). Have to agree about the accents. I can just about understand anyone speaking English - but she can't.

As for BT. There is a strange fault on the landline - the phone now only gives one long ring (no "dring"..."dring" type ringing). It's a bog-standard old phone. I tested using the test socket and the (undocumented?) call-back number. This was a few years ago. Reported it. "Nothing wrong with the line". If you get an engineer out and they can't find a fault - a large bill. You'd think the exchange would realise the ringing current is continuous. If it does it isn't reporting the fault. Ho humm! Had to put up with the long ring ever since.
 

prpr

Well-Known Member
Don't use the wrong terminology!
A master socket is an LJ2/1A box. A Linebox is an NTE5 type box, with a removable faceplate which disconnects any extension wiring, and has a socket inside.
The socket inside is the official demarcation point as to whose responsibility the fault is and who should pay to fix it.

BT retail is a hideous organisation to deal with. Full of Indian liers who will just steal your money at any opportunity.
I've had the misfortune to go through this 6 times in the last 6 years or so, on 2 different lines. Been charged once for something I shouldn't have been and it was about £150.
Every time, when clearly there has been a line fault, both with broadband and voice, the automated line checker has said everything's fine. It's virtually useless, but the droids seem to treat it as God.
It's not difficult to find the number for the automated tester yourself, but if you have no dial-tone, it's not going to do a lot of good.
Anyway, it's bound to be a cable or jumper fault somewhere - it almost always is IME.
 

Ezra Pound

Well-Known Member
BH : I presume there must be a break or a dead short which does not seem to correlate with ring-trip
A dead short does correlate with ring-trip, check the DC voltage across the incoming line, you should see 50 Volts normally with somewhere in the region of 10 Volts* when off hook

* it will vary with line length
 
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OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
A dead short does correlate with ring-trip, check the DC voltage across the incoming line, you should see 50 Volts normally with somewhere in the region of 10 Volts* when off hook
No doubt, but that would mean digging around inside the socket (or making up a test lead to plug in), and by the time I see it again it will (hopefully) have been sorted! I don't suppose I will ever know what the problem really was, only that it's working and the technician engineer did or did not attend the subscriber's premises to get it working.
 

Ezra Pound

Well-Known Member
Hey, you raised the subject, I thought an 'Engineer' would have been a little more adventurous / curious
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
All done. Madam reports (and I have reinterpreted) the Openreach guy came and then went away again, saying something about a visit to the exchange but then returning some time later and swapping out the master socket.

I suspect the latter wasn't strictly necessary, but may be an upgrade.
 

MikeSh

Well-Known Member
I suspect the latter wasn't strictly necessary, but may be an upgrade.
Yes, we had similar last year. They moved our line to a different 'card' in the cabinet to fix the problem, but he put a new master socket in while he was here even though the old one seemed to work fine.
 

EEPhil

Number 28
How do the telecomms companies get away with it?
We had an interesting problem back on the 12th June. The phone rang. There's a novelty! These days it just does one long ring (see post #5 above). This time it rang properly. I answered it, but there was no one there, just the "ringing current" sounding in my ear. Hung up and then found no dialling tone. I though - aha one of those spam calls. But no. I checked the landline from my mobile and it rang. So, let's get this straight - no dial tone, but you can ring up. The connection is not made when I answered the landline. The mobile reported a 4s call. I used the online report a fault and it traced a fault to outside the house, between me and the exchange. In the meantime the phone stopped working (no ringing, no crackling instead of dial tone, but the mobile gets a ring tone and sometimes connects even though I haven't heard or answered the landline).
The next day Openreach turn up and climb the post outside. Then sit in the van for a couple of hours and p. off. At no time have I been kept in the loop by BT/Openreach emailing/texting/phoning my mobile or even knocking on the door. According to one method of "track a fault" on the BT webshite, there was no problem with my line. By using another method, it showed the problem and said at 23:59 on the 13th "In progress".
It gets to the Friday 21st of June. No action. I put in a complaint.
Monday 24th June Openreach turn up again and replace a cable between two posts. Hey presto! The phone works. Did anyone bother to tell us. (email/text/mobile/landline) Did they £"$^! What is more annoying is the the "track a fault" says 13th June 23:59 problem solved. No it was about 13:00 24th June. Is that a con to avoid the automatic compensation that is supposed to be made for loss of service. My calculation is that BT owe me £80 (£8 per day after 2nd working day following report of loss of service. I wonder if they will try to wriggle out of that? Oh, and by the way, the bloody phone still does one long ring when it is called. If someone from customer services ever contacts me about the complaint I may just bring that to their attention.
Customer service :roflmao:. Customer satisfaction :rolling:.
 
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