A BUSINESS owner claims he has been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after his company lost the use of its email system for a week.

Stephen Ley, who runs Didcot-based medical device supplier Marshall Curtis, believes he may have lost key orders from potential new clients after his email, provided by BT, stopped working properly.

He said: “When people sent us an email, it told them the address did not exist.

“It has cost us thousands of pounds, although the exact figure will be impossible to calculate.

“I have just been to Russia to promote custom but I don’t know whether any orders have come in. I am also in contract negotiations with the National Health Service, but my email is telling them we don’t exist.”

Despite, he claims, repeated calls to BT, the problem continued. He said he even tried to contact BT chief executive Ian Livingstone but to no avail.

He added: “I spoke to dozens of people but no-one was able to fix it.”

It was only when the Oxford Mail contacted BT that action was finally taken and the situation was resolved, although it has left Mr Ley doubting the quality of the UK’s online service compared to other business centres around the world.

He said: “Why have we had to put in so much effort to get them to do their job?

“I am currently in Seoul, South Korea, and the contrast is amazing – here the telecom system is fit for purpose and wifi is free almost everywhere. I think BT has a long way to go to catch up and it is holding back UK business.”

BT spokesman Paul Hayward said: “We are sorry for the problem experienced on this account. We have been urgently working on this issue and have now confirmed that most of the system is now working correctly as required. We are urgently working on remaining issues to complete the repair.

“We have been in regular contact with the customer directly to discuss the matter fully.”