A call centre worker who claims a ‘sudden crackling’ sound on his headset left him with hearing so sensitive the sound of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange being tapped on a table leaves him in agony has won a court appeal to sue BT for £30,000.
Mark Storey says he suffered ‘acoustic shock’ when an intense high-pitched noise burst onto the phone line while he was on a customer call at a BT call centre in Lancaster.
The 48-year-old says the sound was like a ‘knitting needle through my ear’ and has permanently damaged his hearing, making it so even every day sounds are ‘intolerable’.
But BT denies liability and says Mr Storey, of Carnforth, in Lancashire, must prove that he was subjected to damaging noise and that his hearing was affected as a result.
Mark Storey, pictured, is suing BT for £30,000 after claiming an intense high-pitched sound came through his headset while working at its call centre and permanently damaged his hearing
The case reached Burnley County Court in 2020, when Mr Storey’s case was rejected – but the Court of Appeal has now reinstated the claim, allowing him to continue his damages bid.
Outlining the case in the appeal judgment, Lady Justice Andrews said Mr Storey had been working at the BT call centre in Lancaster in April 2014 when the alleged incident took place.
He said he was taking a call when a ‘sudden intense high-pitched crackling sound’ burst through the headset, which he described as ‘feeling like someone had put a knitting needle through my ear.’
He threw it down and told his manager, he said in his evidence, and colleagues suggested a mass of cabling underneath his desk might have suffered a power surge and contributed to the sudden burst of noise.
The 48-year-old says as a result of the sound he now has tinnitus and even the sound of a Terry’s chocolate orange being banged against a table is ‘intolerable’
‘Mr Storey says he experienced symptoms of nausea and dizziness that evening and a high pitched multi-tonal whistling sound in his right ear, which caused him serious sleep disturbance then and since,’ the judge continued.
‘He also had a headache down the side of his head which lasted for 48 hours. The tinnitus persisted. He became intolerant of loud noise, to the extent that even the sound of a colleague tapping a chocolate orange on the table before unwrapping it was unbearable.
‘He underwent numerous examinations and tests, and a course of cognitive behavioural therapy to help …….