Here’s yet another cautionary tale pointing out that what the rep says and what the contract stipulates may just differ a tad.

Lorna and Paul Davis run Aubrey Road General Stores in Tonypandy, South Wales. They recently got one of those free Booker epos systems and are very happy with it. To speed up ordering they decided to switch their phone and broadband provider from Talk Talk to Unicom on the basis that the package was the same, albeit a bit cheaper and with faster broadband.

Lorna emphasised that it must all switch over at once, because the business relied upon it and the rep said it will all be smooth, no worries. The company’s literature stresses ‘seamless’ switching.

On the appointed day in late April, three BT Outreach engineers showed up to change the phone line, the cash machine line and the outside box from Talk Talk to Unicom. Although the place was swarming with engineers no new broadband line could be detected.

The couple took turns to get on the phone and were still there the following day, talking to a variety of customer services personnel, supervisors and managers. They were told that it required seven to 10 days to switch broadbands.

It would appear that the contract they signed didn’t include broadband switching - the fact that they thought they had switched was all based on verbal agreement: in other words, the rep’s say-so.

After having to make a huge fuss, they got the switch date moved a few days forward, but were told it would take an extra £100 “to expedite it”. Unicom then agreed to pay 50 quid of it. Meanwhile, Lorna and Paul are having to take stock by hand then take it home at 11pm after a long day to order online from the home computer. And they’ve since discovered that the engineers screwed up the shop’s alarm. The pair are dreading switching the till over.

Technology is great, when it works. So are people - perhaps Unicom might consider a bit more training for its reps.