Manitoba couple’s Bell MTS landline broken for seven weeks

A Manitoba couple is worried they will be left with no way to call for help in an emergency after going weeks without a working phone.

Murray and Rachel Leonard have lived in their home near Anola, Man. for around 60 years.

Despite being only about a 20-minute drive from the eastern edge of Winnipeg, the couple is experiencing major problems with their phone and internet.

“It rings, and then you pick it up. He goes, ‘hello, hello, hello,’ and then all you hear is that terrible noise,” explained Rachel.

The couple says their Bell MTS landline hasn’t worked in seven weeks, despite paying their bills.

Rachel said the company told them they would be reimbursed, but not until their landline starts working again.

Coupled with spotty internet, Rachel worries her 82-year-old husband won’t be able to call for help if something was to happen.

“If he’s home and he’s had some health conditions. This spring, I had to phone an ambulance, and with the COVID restrictions, I couldn’t go. What do you do?” said Rachel.

“If I was in Steinbach to get tractor parts and something happened to him, who do you call? How do you call?” she added.

The Leonards say they aren’t alone in their issues. They note family members in the area and elsewhere are also dealing with service outages.

“My daughter in Birtle, they lost service on Thursday,” said Rachel. “Ninety people without a landline, and Sunday afternoon, they put it up, but she says, ‘Mom, it’s happening out here too.'”

Rachel said she’s contacted Bell MTS more than a dozen times trying to get them to fix her phone. Bell, which owns Bell MTS, is the parent company of CTV News.

In a statement, Bell said the problems are due to poor infrastructure from before the company purchased MTS in 2017.

“As a result of network maintenance practices of MTS prior to its acquisition by Bell, the copper network in Manitoba is particularly vulnerable to wet conditions. Record levels of precipitation this year drove a significant number of repair requests,” read the emailed statement.

“Thanks to the efforts of our technicians, and the many steps we have taken to address issues which included hiring and bringing in new technicians from other areas, the number of customers requiring repairs is currently low despite the extremely wet weather. We continue to monitor the situation and remain committed to addressing service outages as quickly as possible.”

A fix the Leonards would like to see as soon as possible.

“Just normal service. Good service,” said Murray. “If you’re going to sell a service, you should provide a service.”

Following a surge of complaints earlier this year, Bell MTS is required to update the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission monthly until October on how repairs are going. 

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