BT's miseries grew a little more today, and it couldn't even ring the Samaritans for free to have a moan. The counselling service has cancelled its long-term contract with BT.

The care line complained after 20 percent of all calls were not getting through. It has now gone with BT rival Cable & Wireless, cutting its bill by half.

“Now callers are getting through in a matter of seconds,” said spokesperson at the Samaritans.

BT charged the helpline £700,000 for a system that allowed local rate calls to be made via an 08457 number. Under the same system provided by Cable & Wireless, the Samaritans are charged just £350,000 - a noticeable saving.

“Not only are people getting through,” said the Samaritans' spokesperson. “But we are saving money as well.”

BT saw its share price fall again yesterday as it desperately continues to tackle its £30bn mountain of debt.

The teleco giant has had a stressful year, with tough pressure from watchdog Oftel to stop its reluctant and slow handling of the local loop unbundling process.

Now BT is facing pressure from its shareholders, who among other demands are calling for the resignation of BT's chairman and chief executive. BT refused to comment.