Should we have to pay to stop nuisance calls?

by , Technology Researcher Technology 7 February 2013
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BT has launched a new phone that claims to block nuisance calls. Would you be prepared to pay to stop the interruption of unwanted calls? We plan to put the phone through its paces…

Red speakers

The occasional unsolicited call from a telemarketer or PPI claims company is annoying. But if you’re bombarded by them every day, or if you’re worried about calls to vulnerable relatives, then they can become a real menace.

It’s a buzzing topic whenever we discuss the issue on Convo and the scale of the issue is staggering. BT says it receives more than 50,000 calls to its Nuisance Calls Advice Line every month and so it’s perhaps no surprise that the company has launched a new phone it claims will let you block up to 80% of unwanted calls.

BT phone home

We’ve yet to review the phone but have requested the handset so we can put the phone through its paces.

The BT 6500 claims it will bar calls from international numbers, withheld numbers and numbers without a caller ID plus up to 10 specific numbers. Blocked calls (with the exception of those from specified numbers) are then silently routed to the answer machine so genuine callers can leave a message. The phone also comes with a Do Not Disturb mode, whichswitches off the ringer but allows friends and family to get through.

The phone isn’t cheap – it costs £44.99 for a single handset, £69.99 for a twin, and £89.99 for a trio. Although it’s the first handset ofits kind to offer this service, TrueCall’s call blocker (£100) plugs into your existing home phone to deliver the same kind of service.

Time to hang up

Now in principle you shouldn’t have to shell out in order to avoid unwanted calls. You can sign up for free to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) to stop such pesky calls. However, 76% of you told us in our online poll you still get nuisance calls. And it’s worth noting the TPS cannot stop calls from international companies or from companies that choose to ignore the rules.

We’re aware that nuisance calls are a real problem and we’re busily working behind-the-scenes on the issue. We’re working with members of the Consumer Forum for Communications to take action against companies that bombard consumers with unwanted calls and texts.

Only joined-up action to prevent unsolicited calls being made, and strong enforcement action against companies that break the rules, will solve the problem. Products like the BT 6500 or the True Call blocker could serve a useful function – but we don’t think the answer will come in a paid for technological product. We need to protect everyone from the perils of nuisance calls and ensure companies respect your right to privacy.

Would you consider buying such a device if it meant an end to unwanted calls or would you be nervous you’d miss genuine calls?

72 comments

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Anthony Kaye

Shouldn’t the TPS database be unhackable?. Or might elements of it be sold off to the highest bidder?

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Bib1

When you review the BT6500 call-blocking you may want to take note of the discussions about it on the BT forum (http community bt com) thread “BT6500 not ringing all handsets”.

In your conversation about call blocking, you should also make everyone aware that, for privacy reasons, the NHS are not allowed to identify their calls. So all calls from your Doctor or hospital will be blocked as ‘Unavailable’ or ‘Withheld’. If you divert their calls to an answering machine, they are not allowed to leave a message.
Result: Your Doctor or hospital will not be able to contact you

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Neil

The last two calls I have received rang and just showed “Incoming call”. The first one I answered and hung up when a recorded voice started telling me I could get £20000 from the Government. The second I allowed to ring until it diverted to the answerphone – no message was left. I rang my own number from my mobile to check that Caller Display was still working – it was.
Have the nuisance callers found a way of turning off Caller Display rather than being identified as International, Withheld, or Unavailable? The calls were shown as No Number in the calls list, which is supposed to mean I don’t have Caller Display.

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bib1

Neil: Yea, they can do anything with fake caller-id’s – even ‘no caller-id’.

To quote Wikipedia (Caller ID spoofing):
QUOTE
In the past, Caller ID spoofing required an advanced knowledge of telephony equipment that could be quite expensive. However, with open source software (such as Asterisk or FreeSWITCH, and almost any VoIP company), one can spoof calls with minimal costs and effort.
UNQUOTE

So to me, when I see “No Number” or “No Caller-ID”, I read it as “Deceitful Faker Calling”!
Nice of them to be so honest in describing themselves, in’it.

But could it be your BT6500′s wobbly software?

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