‘Kind of a life and death thing’: Toronto man loses Bell landline, service to be restored

Click to play video: 'Case of life and death for Toronto man after Bell takes away landline' Case of life and death for Toronto man after Bell takes away landline
WATCH ABOVE: Martin Wuori is quadriplegic and has a tracheostomy. Wuori said he is very worried for his safety after a Bell modem upgrade means he has lost his copper landline, something he was not informed of beforehand. However, Bell changed its position after receiving a call from Global News. Sean O’Shea reports – May 29, 2017

Martin Wuori resisted upgrading his Bell home internet services for years, despite calls from the company’s marketers. Among the reasons? He was fearful of losing his coveted, traditional copper telephone service.

But earlier this year, Wuori gave in. He agreed to accept the company’s fibre optic-based service.

Wuori said he was confident, after conversations with sales representatives, that his traditional line would still be intact – only to find out later that his service was gone.

To a typical consumer, the change might be an annoyance. But for Wuori, who is quadriplegic and breathes through a tracheotomy tube, losing a reliable phone line is like losing a security blanket.

“For me, I feel like it’s kind of a life and death thing,” said Wuori, who has been quadriplegic since 1986.

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“If my airway blocks up, I can’t breathe and I choke to death. It’s as simple as that.”

Wuori called Global News desperate for help after Bell refused to roll back the service. The telecommunications company’s customer service agents told Wuori, with journalists present listening to a customer service call, that it couldn’t be done. When he asked to pursue the issue to a supervisor, Wuori was put on hold and the line went dead.

Wuori’s East York apartment building contains living units with both copper wire and fibre optic service.

“All the wired infrastructure in this building is still there,” said Wuori, whose pleas to Bell representatives were repeated and unsuccessful.

However, when Global News contacted Bell executives asking for an explanation, the company immediately promised action.

“We are contacting Mr. Wuori to restore his home phone service to a copper wire connection as soon as possible and apologize for the inconvenience,” said Caroline Audet, Bell’s senior manager of media relations.

John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre based in Ottawa, said consumers aren’t always fully informed about the consequences of changes to their telecommunications services.

“They don’t tell you that when you’re getting this new deal that gives you faster Internet … they are actually changing your phone service’s delivery method, and they don’t make a big deal of it,” said Lawford, who cautioned consumers to take care before switching service.

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Wuori said he’s grateful to be getting his trusted phone line restored.

“Thank you.”

With files from Lucas Di Rocco

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