Patience is a virtue…

By Sylvia Irvine Robertson

Unfortunately, this is not a virtue that I have possessed until recently, when a problem with Relay UK taught me that some things are worth waiting for!

Relay UK is an excellent free service provided by BT via a smartphone app. As you may know, a relay assistant types what the other person is saying, so that the person with hearing loss can read it on their mobile phone, tablet, or computer. This service is a lifeline for many people like me who cannot hear well on a phone. It means that I can contact my GP, bank and other organisations without relying on someone else to make the call, which is frustrating and demeaning. Often there is no other option than to make a telephone call.

I have never experienced a delay with provision of a relay assistant, and I admire the speed at which the speech is relayed to me with few errors. It is all too common these days to be held in a queue, and on occasions, I have enjoyed chatting to the Relay Assistant waiting to get to the front of the queue. One assistant I recall kept my spirits up with a few jokes until I able to speak to a doctor during the pandemic.

Dialling out is easy with the Relay UK app as the prefix is embedded, so you just need to click on the phone number in your contact list.

I have something called a TextNumber, which is an alternative mobile number provided by Relay UK. I can give this to anyone and it removes the need for the incoming caller to use a prefix to call me. However, recently I discovered that my bank was unable to contact me using this number, either by phone or by text.

I initially thought this must be a problem at the banking end because Relay UK had assured me that there was no reason why it shouldn’t work. I spent a lot of time discussing the issue with my bank, which seemed to think I would accept an apology and some monetary compensation rather than a resolution – but this was not the case! Nevertheless, I remained in regular contact with one senior staff member who agreed that there was an issue to be resolved. At the same time, I was in regular contact with Relay UK.

I then experienced a similar problem with my GP practice when I missed an appointment. I didn’t receive their text or one from another company. At this point, I realised that the problem lay with Relay UK which strengthened my resolve to pursue the matter.

My contact at Relay UK assured me that their technical team was addressing the issue, but I had no idea when I could expect a resolution. I was impressed by the support my point of contact gave – she was equally keen to find me a solution.

I must admit that I began to wonder if I would ever get to the bottom of it. I am determined by nature, and even more so when the issue affects not only me, but potentially all those with hearing loss who may encounter a similar problem.

Six months later, I received an email to inform me the issue had been resolved, although it is unknown what caused the problem I encountered in the first place. I was asked to make a phone call and text to my GP surgery, as well as my bank. I set up both without high expectations, but to my absolute delight, both worked without a hitch. They thanked me for alerting them to the flaw and I breathed a sigh of relief. Job sorted!

To find out more about Relay UK visit https://www.relayuk.bt.com/. For more information about TextNumbers visit https://www.relayuk.bt.com/relay-uk-services/textnumbers.html

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