A Darlington Post Office has hit out at another "shambles" from the central Post Office after they were unable to get help fixing their electric and gas top-up machine.

Last Tuesday (February 13), the North Road post office had work done on its Paystation machine to upgrade it from the copper network to fibre optic broadband.

During that work, a crucial wire was cut which caused the machine to stop working.

Since then many families have come to the post office, sometimes with very young children and babies, only to be told that they cannot top up their gas and electricity.

Malcolm Thompson, owner of the shop, described his frustration at the lack of response and help he has received from the central Post Office.

He explained how years ago he saw the benefit that having the machine had on his customers when a young man came in on Christmas Day and was overjoyed to be able to get his heating back on.

The 86-year-old said: "The Post Office is a service. People expect to be able to come in here and for us to help them.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Malcolm Thompson, post office owner

"We have had women with babies and with young children coming in for top ups. 

"Not everyone has a car to get them to another Paystation machine.

"It's just very frustrating. It's another shambles."

Darlington and Stockton Times: Malcolm Thompson, post office owner

Christine Hall, manager of the shop, described it as "hard work all the time" working with the central Post Office team.

She said: "We phoned the Post Office and they put us onto Paystation who told us to call the Post Office.

"We have got it working on our retail phone line but it is not ideal.

"We have no area manager any more which means we have no one to contact about this at the Post Office.

"We have had people who tried to come earlier in the week calling to see if we have got it fixed. 

"It's just hard work all the time. The call handlers we get put through to don't have a clue."

The North Road post office have been told that somebody should now be coming to fix the issue within two or three days.

A Post Office spokesperson confirmed the problems that the branch is having and apologised for the inconvenience.

They said: "Harrowgate Hill Post Office is open as normal for most transactions including bill payments.

"However, there is an issue affecting the Paystation in the branch where people top up their smartcards and electricity keys.

"We are working hard to resolve an issue as soon as possible.

"We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused by these services not currently being available. Alternative Post Offices in the area include Springfield and Albert Road."