Users have protested at BT's decision to axe Faxminder, a portable fax service, which could cost their businesses a fortune in lost sales.
BT gave notice it would cut the service, which allowed businesses to store and retrieve large numbers of sent faxes, on "commercial viability" grounds last October. The company did not say, however, that companies would lose their specific 07070 fax number.
Faxminder was withdrawn on New Year's Eve, and callers to 07070 numbers are informed the numbers don't exist. BT says it is unable to provide a diversion service to new numbers that businesses have been forced to adopt.
One ex-Faxminder user is book publisher CGP, which has been forced to substitute its 07070 number with a plain one as part of BT's Call Minder Premier service which includes fax services. CGP's main concern is that five million books are in circulation with the Faxminder number.
CGP finance director Graham Servante said, "We are losing sales as a result of customers not being able to contact us. We thought we were buying a fax number we would be able to keep."
Another user, Adder Publications only started using Faxminder 18 months ago, but was given no indication at this time that BT was planning to axe the service.
BT has offered affected businesses compensation for replacing stationery with the old Faxminder number on. A BT spokeswoman said Oftel had allowed it to ditch the service because it was proving commercially unviable.
She said it would also cost BT too much to change its networks to offer an indefinite fax diversion service, to stop businesses losing sales. An EU directive forcing operators to allow customers to keep numbers when they changed supplier would have protected Faxminder customers - if any other operator provided a similar service, which is not the case.
A Telecommunications Managers' Association spokesman said: "This is a typical example of the conflict between the user's interests and that of the operator."