23 August 2002

Hotline hiccup

A HERTS farmer waited for an hour-and-a-quarter to speak to someone on DEFRAs telephone hotline because the greeting message had been left unchanged.

Melvin Palfreyman from Stevenage called the helpline at 4.55pm on Monday (Aug 19). The message told him he was third in the queue and he should wait to be connected, which he did for an astonishing 75 minutes.

He eventually rang the main switchboard at 6.10pm to ask what was wrong and was told someone must have forgotten to switch the system off when the office closed at 5pm.

Mr Palfreyman said: "I kept thinking I was the next to be answered so I kept holding and holding. I was so aggravated."

A DEFRA spokesman admitted the helpline had been having technical problems which it was looking into. "We apologise for any inconvenience." &#42