A REMOTE Highland village was plunged into communication chaos after bungling BT workers crossed phone lines.
Residents of Bundalloch, West Ross, have no mobile phone signal and rely on old-fashioned landlines to keep in touch.
But BT’s attempt to fix a phone cable damaged by bad weather resulted in phone numbers being mixed up as well as several residents being cut off altogether.
Frustrated callers dialling the numbers of friends and family in the village found themselves routed to other homes in Bundalloch.
Amid the chaos, most residents had no idea which number their home phones were responding to.
Several Bundalloch residents trudged two miles to the nearest phone box and dialled their normal home number to see who in the village answered.
BT engineers crossed the phone lines of around 30 homes on Friday following the “repair” job.
The problem was fixed on Monday but only after a desperate villager called in a local tradesman.
David MacRae, 39, said: “All the houses were getting mixed up. Our line was dead until about 11am on Monday so we couldn’t call out.
“I actually walked down to Dornie and used the phone box to dial our own number and a girl who was a stranger to me answered.
“There was no internet either so we had nothing at all. It was a bit inconvenient.
“My sister’s husband was away and he couldn’t get in contact all weekend.”
A group of workmen who were booked to stay at the village’s Glennan B&B on Monday tried calling to check their reservation but kept getting through to a couple who had just moved to the village.
According to Mr MacRae they gave up and travelled to the village in the hope their accommodation was available.
“The men arrived and got to stay,” he said.
Bundalloch which has only one street – Mary Street – is situated on the banks of Loch Long, about 50 miles north-west of Fort William.
Teaching assistant Jane Nickson took it upon herself to get the lines fixed after being left out of touch for two days.
She said: “I had to use my neighbour’s phone to register a complaint with BT but the whole process of speaking to a robot took so long I got in my car and went to find the local engineers.
“They were great, I couldn’t fault them.”
A spokesman for BT apologised for the “small number” of crossed lines in Bundalloch following work to replace a faulty aerial cable.
In June last year around 10,000 people were left without landlines and access to emergency services when Wester Ross thieves struck an optic fibre cable while trying to steal copper.
BT said they were looking into how the mix-up happened.
A spokesman said: “Engineers replaced a faulty overhead cable serving Bundalloch on Friday following which a number of residents reported their lines were crossed.
“We would like to apologise to everyone affected for the inconvenience they suffered – the cause of the problem is under investigation.”
He added: “If there are 30 lines in a cable, each line has two copper wires – so there are actually 60 connections that need to be placed in exact positions.”