With no working phone line, there are fears an 87-year-old woman has been left without a lifeline.

Raka Tandon said her family's Epsom phone line has been down since an outage last week, meaning her mother Rani's medical alarm does not work.

The family are Spark customers, but the fault exists on Chorus' copper network.

Mrs Tandon and her husband Dev both work fulltime, and are "worried senseless" leaving the elderly woman alone and unprotected during the day.


"She is scared, she is so scared. We all are. What if something happens? She is 87 has had both knees replaced, she is extremely frail and has a bad back."

While the family were relying on mobile phones, it was not the best option due to Rani's arthritis.

"Her arthritis it is too much to pick up the phone with her arthritic fingers. There are limitations. Just because you have a cellphone doesn't mean it is the most efficient."

Mrs Tandon said she had made countless calls to Spark where she always left a message as the wait times were often over an hour. She said she was yet to receive a call back.

"Do Spark care for our lives? Do they care for anyone's lives? Not from where we are sitting. We are at our wit's end, we just don't know what to do."

To make matters worse, the family's internet had also stopped working - so they were unable to contact the company online.

Spark spokesman Sam Durbin said the customer's issue was caused by a fault on Chorus' copper network.

"We understand that Chorus technicians have attended and are still working on the issue before the customer can be back up and running.

"Landline faults do happen from time to time on the older copper network, particularly at this time of year with poor winter weather."

He said the company contacted the customers following Herald inquiries and landline diversions had been set up to their mobile phones.

"We share our customer's concerns and we'll continue to advocate on behalf of them to Chorus."

However, Mrs Tandon was told the issue was unlikely to be resolved before July 1, a fact she said was "Third World".

A Chorus spokesman apologised to the family. He said it was up to the internet provider - in this case Spark - to notify Chorus about medical circumstances.

"We pride ourselves on having a quality network, however, from time to time we do have faults on our network. Where services are required for medical reasons we always endeavour to provide a temporary service as quickly as possible. However, we first need to be alerted by an internet service provider that service is required at a house for medical reasons."

The spokesman said the company was only notified by Spark at 6pm. That was after Herald inquiries to Spark.

"Now that we have received this notification from the internet service provider, we have a technician attending the site ... to see if we are able to provide temporary service while the fault is permanently repaired."

The Tandon family are among an estimated 43 households affected by the fault, which has occurred in a large cable.