/ Technology

BT’s Caller Display: would you pay to know who’s calling?

What's your number? written on chalk board

BT has announced a range of price rises for its home phone and broadband customers. The telecoms provider is also going to introduce charges for some of its free services, including Caller Display…

From 4 January 2014, BT’s broadband will increase by up to 6.5%, and its line rental will go up by 3.5% from £15.45 to £15.99 a month (unless you pay it all upfront at an unchanged £141 for the year). There’s another catch in BT’s latest price rise. Customers who want Caller Line Identification (CLI), which you can use to identify who’s calling you, will have to pay.

BT to charge for Caller Display

Previously free, BT Privacy at Home with Caller Display will cost £1.75 a month or £21 per year in the New Year.

There is a way to continue using BT’s Caller Display free-of-charge for a year. However, you’ll have to sign another 12 month contract for BT’s line rental, which is going up in price. And if you want to escape mid-contract? Well, BT’s also hiking some of its early termination charges by as much as 30%.

Of course, BT isn’t the only fixed-line provider to charge for Caller Display – Virgin Media charges £2.25 per month, for example. Though it is free if you’re with Sky or TalkTalk.

Caller Display helps in reporting nuisance calls

So, do you think you should have to pay extra for Caller Display? Knowing the phone number of who’s calling you is key to reporting nuisance calls to the regulators. This is something you can do via our complaints tool, which we launched as part of our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls & Texts campaign. It’s also something Which? Convo commenter BigMart does:

‘I had a live cold caller this morning […] Caller Display gave me their number and I shall report it to TPS.’

Robert also finds Caller Display essential:

‘I find caller display 100% effective – if a number is unavailable/withheld, the caller doesn’t get answered and any decent legit caller will leave a message on the answerphone.’

Sandie recommends Caller Display in the fight against nuisance calls as well:

‘If you are with BT why not ask for Caller Display, which is free, and if you don’t have one already, a phone which will display numbers. They don’t have to be expensive either. Then you will know if a friend is calling and which tone of voice to use! Personally I couldn’t live without Caller Display, but it surprises me how many people don’t have it set up.’

We all take it for granted that numbers are displayed on mobile phones. Should it be different with a landline – especially if you’ve bought a handset with Caller Display, such as BT’s call-blocking BT6500 handset? Do you think home phone companies should be allowed to charge extra for Caller Display?

Denys Owen says:
21 February 2015

At nearly 89 I’m not the brightest when it comes to making sense of BT’s “offer”.

I do not wish to PAY for Caller ID but can find no way of telling BT this, and without having to enter into another 12 months contract. Any suggestions?

PeterM says:
23 February 2015

So my question for you, is do you want Caller ID, or would you give it up as there’s a charge for it?

There are few options now that BT won’t offer it free forever.

Plus.Net charges 99p a month for it, while The Post Office includes it for free.

I use both for Broadband, but my Plus.Net service is on a phone line rented via Primus Saver (before they renamed themselves Fuel Broadband)

Caro says:
29 May 2015

I used to work in software development in the Telecomms industry so know that charging for caller id is a big rip off. In order to switch it on or off to any given telephone number is just a single field (just a one bit field – there are 8 bits in a byte) in one of the “messages” which set up telephone calls which would take all of 30 seconds to activate/deactivate so there is virtually zero cost involved in providing this service.
How they can justify £1.75 a month for this is beyond me.


On my December 2015 BT bill I noticed a charge of 68p for BT Privacy Caller Display (BTPCD), this had previously been provided FREE. Result of enquiry to BT was that this feature had been included FREE with a 12 month line rental contract which expired mid December 2015. I said I had paid a 12 month Line Rental Saver (LRS) which did not expire until September 2016. Yes, agreed the BT man, most people who pay for LRS automatically think they are getting PCD free for 12 months. It is a 12 month line rental contract, not LRS which has FREE BTPCD!! Well, I said, do you notify customers when BTPCD ceases to be provided FREE? No, said the BT man. You would not have been notified. After the 12 month FREE PCD period we do not cancel the service unless the customer requests us to do so. The service then becomes a chargeable service at £1.75 a month. Your 68p charge is for a few days past the end of your 12 month line rental contract!! I will refund this and provide BTPCD FREE again as you have notified us that you would like this FREE for an extra 12 months.

I was so astonished by the complexity and convolution of this exchange that I mentioned it to 5 friends. After investigation of their bills, ALL 5 found they had been paying for features that they thought had been FREE and 2 found they had been unknowingly charged for BT Sports.

If all 5 friends were unaware until prompted to check their bills, how many BT customers are in the same boat I wonder?

keith says:
1 May 2016

Better off finding a cheaper provider bt are expensive