/ 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?


Only last month I was watching BT talking at The Culture, Media and Sport Committee Meeting on nuisance/spam calls.

BT was saying about how Caller Display & not picking up the phone and letting people just leave a message on 1571 was a good way to get around cold calls.

Then what do they do? the following month put there prices up and even start charging for stuff that is free.

So really all BT is doing is making money from cold callers. Who in there right mind wants to make money from cold calls? *looks shifty* lol

Peter Morgan says:
4 October 2013

> start charging for stuff that is free.

While I can see how they have acted with a degree of hypocrisy in saying one thing but then going from a a position of offering a facility for free to charging a fee, it is wrong to say that “Caller Display” as a service is “free”.

It has been offered free within the “BT Privacy” package, up to now. Seems that, put simply, BT has decided to no longer offer that for free, and in a way, users should be pleased they’re not going to be forced to pay the full 3.30/month for it! I did spot the small print about the “launch” (relaunch, surely!) of BT Privacy… to get this at the lower level charge, you must be an existing BT Privacy customer…

BT Retail decides its price list. Some other telecom firms charge for Caller Display, but BT opted to provide “BT Privacy” and made this a free service, so long as a certain number of calls are made. It’s unpleasant of them to introduce a charge for this after offering it free for so long, but all telecom firms are charged a fee by Openreach and most pass it on to customers.

Plusnet (ISP) charges 99p for Caller Display. Some charge 2.00 to 2.50 for each network service, including Caller Display. In the past, if you didn’t opt for BT Privacy but wanted Caller Display, BT charged you for that service.

It seems that Sky and TalkTalk offer it free, but who knows – if they spot the fact that BT customers will soon have to pay for it, they may decide not to continue to offer it for free after January. It’s not unusual for telecom firms to copy each other, after all.

I sent a tweet to Plusnet the other day, just to ask if they will start charging for 1571 as BT own them. This is the reply I got…


If they start charging, we can blame you for putting the idea into their mind, Lee. 🙂

A better strategy might be to say that they could pick up disgruntled customers from BT if they commit to providing the service free of charge.

LOL Yea, I will take the blame if they start charging too haha

“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.”

Can’t find this at the link provided, options seem to be all chargeable in 2014.

Peter Morgan says:
4 October 2013

While it says the price is 1.75/month, the page linked to does say

“Register to get BT Privacy with Caller Display free for 12 months from the date it launches* (a new 12-month line rental contract applies).”

In my view 04/01/2014 is not the true “launch date” (as BT Privacy has been available for years) but perhaps BT means “launch date of charging for BT Privacy” !!

So existing BT Privacy customers can get it free for another 12 months if they lock in to a fresh 12 months contract. I suspect if many know they could get Caller Display included at no extra charge with Sky or TalkTalk then people might switch. (I have used neither TT, nor Sky, and did not know Caller Display was free, until I saw the information from Which?)

BT seems to be wanting to lock in another 12 months of “loyalty”… I can see some benefits (eg BT SmartTalk) for keeping a line with BT, but it all depends on the mix of calls, broadband use, and so on as to whether BT or some other firm is “best option” for a household.

I’d be quite happy for a company to charge for Caller Display if I thought I’d only get calls from legit organisations and the TPS service worked as intended, as in that case I wouldn’t be getting nuisance calls so wouldn’t need Caller ID. But that isn’t the world we live in and nuisance calls are all to common and reporting them is a wholly pointless exercise with the feeble fines issued by the regulators and thats assuming they don’t just issue a warning, Sigh.

I was thinking about getting one of the new BT call blocking phones but I won’t be getting one now.

And as normal the government are visible by their absense.

Edward says:
4 October 2013

I got a call-blocking BT phone & it lasted about 2 months before pacjpking up & leaving me with no phone for a weekend.Sent it back for a refund & returned to old Panasonic system,which is reliable after many years

All BT customers who currently have Caller Display free should tell them that unless they continue to get Caller Display free of charge they will not renew their contract and will move to another provider. Like Lee, I saw the BT manager spout on about how they help their customers deal with nuisance calls and I am disgusted by their decision to charge their customers for something that is vital in avoiding nuisance calls.

Having moved from a paid service to a free service, it seems a bit petty to go back to charging for Caller Display.

This may encourage some to discontinue their landline. That’s fine for them but hard on others who have to pay high charges to call mobiles from landlines.

Peter Morgan says:
4 October 2013

> hard on others who have to pay high charges to call mobiles from landlines.

One (relatively) cheap way would be to buy a PAYG phone on Three (30 pounds for a Nokia) and then it costs 3p/min to call mobiles.

I know there’s the outlay for a new 3G-capable mobile to start with, but the lowest regular prices are around 10p/min so after you’ve used about 400 minutes, you’d break even (and that’s not including any “call connection” charge which is on top of the per minute fee).

At 900 minutes of calls to mobiles, you’d have saved about 30 pounds using Three PAYG even if you had needed to buy the handset to start with and kept it only for calling mobiles…

Thanks Peter. I recently switched from Vodafone PAYG to a monthly contract because of the cost of calling mobiles from both my landline and mobile. If it was not for the fact that Three has such poor coverage (I know because I have used their mobile broadband for several years) I would be tempted.

There are plenty of reasons I’m keeping my landline, and one of them is that I don’t want to make calling me expensive for others.

Peter Morgan says:
5 October 2013

Quite understand the cost of calling a mobile argument (and about poor signals too) but in the case of the former, more and more services (from builders, plumbers and joiners, to pet grooming, mobile hairdressers and so on) are likely to advertise with their mobile number.

While there are plenty of High Street firms a landline number is likely, but we’ve seen the disintegration of many town centres, and in many cases people “go it alone” or never even start in employment but go straight to self-employment.

Phoning mobiles is getting very common, and while residential phone packages may not include any/many calls to mobiles, the need is there. So for almost anyone, of whatever age, being able to call a mobile without it costing too much is becoming the norm. OK, I mentioned Three because they have really low charges, but Asda PAYG is not far behind (8p/min again, now they are switching from Vodafone to EE), and basic mobile phones are often around 10 pounds. It might appeal to those who infrequently need to call a mobile but don’t want a fancy phone, nor a contract.

Alternatively, you could opt for the other method, of course, if you moved solely to a mobile (and had a plan allowing a lot of minutes), where for friends whose numbers you already know, you’d ask them to just let it ring once, and ring them back if you were available. No charge for them at all, no need to use voicemail, and no “extra” cost for you, if you had a suitable plan.

Would that be more acceptable than the concern over it costing them more, because of your choice of cancelling a landline ?

Been ther and done that. 🙂 For years I used to give friends with contracts two rings and they would call me back, either then or when convenient. This saved me a fortune and did not cost them any extra. When on holiday with friends, I often borrowed a contract phone. Now that I have a contract phone, I let those with PAYG use it.

I would not deal with a business that just advertised a mobile number, unless I know something about the company.

I’m sticking with my landline and must have been using Caller Display for over 20 years without paying any extra for this service. If I did cancel the landline then I would certainly call people back to save them money, but I don’t envisage this happening.


I have just remembered a problem with PAYG on the 3 network. Unless things have changed, credit expires after 30 days. I have already been caught out once by this.

TuxWang says:
6 October 2013

Asda mobile is moving to EE. All existing customers must use up their credit in a few months and geta new Asda EE sim.

We are all moving to another PAYG provider.

Peter Morgan says:
7 October 2013

It has changed. From July, PAYG dropped the cost to 3p per minute for voice (2p per text, 1p per MB of data) and it no longer expires. Obviously they encourage people to top up (they have various add-ons which cost from £5 to £15 and last 30 days), but you don’t need to do so every 30 days unlike several other PAYG offerings.

I think my borther-in-law will have his 500 minutes (£15) top up for a long time (maybe the rest of his life) – he seems to keep calls down to a minute or two at most and while that was understandable with Orange PAYG costing up to 50p a minute (for a call to a friend on some other network), it should stop him topping up £10 a month just to know it will work when he wants, and he should now be able to have a proper chat with friends when he is at the pub or out shopping.

Number Withheld says:
3 October 2013

Totally agree with your comment “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”. Having read many of the comments on nuisance calls these should be put in front of the BT executives who made this decision so that they realise the stress and upset caused by these calls especially for the elderly and frail who can least afford this cowardly increase.

As it happens BT have just written to me to say that my contract expires on 1 November and they have a new contract. Keep getting unlimited evening and weekend calls, free and sign a new one year contract. Alternatively stay on the same package but pay £3.50 pm

There must be a catch, but I cannot see what !

I received an e-mail about the caller display charge, but wasn’t mentioned in the letter.

As I have a month to decide, I will look at other phone companies before I make a decision.

I think your wise BigMart to look at other deals as I am with BT and they regularly contact me to try to get me to upgrade the service I have to Infinity at more cost, and if you accept you end up on a new 18 month contract. Beware of the £3.50 pcm as this is a price increase of £42 per year which probably represents between 8-10% and effectively is a termination penalty should you wish to leave them.
TalkTalk was my previous provider and their trick was to ring you up before you contract was up and ask you if you were happy with the service they provided. If you answered “Yes” this formed a new contract as the call was recorded. I found this out when trying to leave them for extremely poor service and asked them to send me a copy of the phone conversation, to which they replied it would cost me £15 for that service. I ended up kicking them out at a cost to me of £157 and will never use them or the Parent Co Car Phone Warehouse EVER !!! So be careful cos they are all the same Only want your MONEY

@petbode I am lucky enough to have two properties. My main property is serviced by Talk Talk. I have had no problems I am on a basic package, with ‘anytime’ calls, but without the boosts (which they have often tried to sell me). It gives me free 1571 and caller display.

My other property is supplied by BT. There I have only evening and weekend calls, plus caller display and 1571. It is the latter that want me to renew.

I will ring TT and ask them if they can better the BT deal !

I like caller ID. One of the reason I stay with BT is because it was free. Now that it isn’t free I am free to look at other providers. The savings I make on their contracts might pay for caller ID on their networks. BT pretending to be doing something about nuisance calls while adding a charge for the service that tells you it IS a nuisance call seems hypocritical.

Caller display is very useful if you get cold calls.
My approach is if the screen shows “withheld” or “unavailable” or something like “00000” it is most likely “India calling”. To stop the ringing I press the green button and then immediately the red button. Works every time.

To my mind if whoever is calling withholds their number the outcome of the call is unlikely to be to my advantage so I don’t want to talk to them.

I’m sure someone could enlighten me if there are any legitimate calls (not cold calls) where the caller withholds their number????
And if so why????

I’d rather not lose caller display but I think it a bit much to start charging for it, I reckon phone service providers already do very nicely out of what they charge.

When I make a phone call I ALWAYS put 141 to block my number. 100% of the time as I like to keep my number private so no company can get it that way.

As for others. My local council tax use private numbers, my dr’s does and a few more. Not sure about the rest of the UK, this is just Leeds I am talking about 🙂

Doctors & hospitals, ex-directory people.

Many companies with large switchboards will appear as unavailable. This is because calls from them would generally display the switchboard number, with no indication of what extension the call came from. Switchboards then get innundated by replies from people who don’t know who they want to speak to, if the caller hasn’t left their name.

Number Withheld says:
4 October 2013

That is a fair comment but since I have an answerphone (not BT’s 1571) if someone from a large organisation rang me they would be able to leave a message (or at least announce who they are). Until a year or so ago the Day Centre used by one of my family had a visible number so when they rang I would immediately answer. Then Bucks County Council changed its phone system and calls from the Day Centre now come up as withheld. As a result when I would previously have ignored a “Number Withheld” or “International” number as almost certainly being a sales call, I now have to answer it or wait for the answerphone to kick in and see whether the caller announces themselves. The Day Centre staff have had to be instructed to always leave a message when they can since they know that many people ignore “Number Withheld” calls.

@Chris Gloucester
Legitimate calls with number withheld?
I have it set up on my phone that any callers with their number with-held is automatically barred – but this is only applied to UK, landline callers.
A while back I was staying in an hotel for a conference and wanted to phone home.
Unfortunately the hotel, apparently in conjunction with many others, stops their phone number being given! Result, I was blocked from phoning my own home!
OK, I’ll use the Call box in Reception. Same problem.
In the end I had to phone using my PAYG Mobile!!

Peter Morgan says:
4 October 2013

> I like to keep my number private so no company can get it that way.

Really sorry to disappoint you, but if you are dialling a business, odds are they can still get your number. I work from home, and have 0800 numbers for my business, and on the web control panel, I can set the service to display the number even if it was withheld. As I am paying for the call, doesn’t it seem reasonable for me to know the caller’s number (and be able to ignore it, if it is a nuisance caller).

Years ago I had one of my 0800 numbers (found at random) put up in dozens of phone boxes in London, by some kids I assume, on a card saying something like Sexy Suzy will charm your Snake… I was getting calls at all hours and if my answerphone took it, when I was out, I was being charged for the dubious privilege of such calls. At least when I was in I could see from Caller Display whether it was a London payphone (it said PAYPHONE) and could ignore it.

I tried to get the addresses of the boxes, to be able to scare off callers, telling them “XX Street phone box is under CCTV monitoring” or similar, but BT would not release the locations because of “bomb threats” (this was in the late 90s, well before 9/11 or 7/7).

You can rent 08xx, 03xx and local numbers (and 09 but you need approval from PhonepayPlus) from about 100 firms, with varying facilities and prices. All I can say is not to be too surprised if the business you call, whether it’s an 01xxx 02xxx etc number, could have your number logged on their bills and displayed on their phone.

I try and never phone companies I tweet them and ask them to call me. I just meant if I do i put 141 at the start and they do not get my number. All companies have my 0871 number and they call me on that.

Peter Morgan says:
10 October 2013

> I just meant if I do i put 141 at the start and they do not get my number.

The service I use (and the one offering the 0871 you use, perhaps), has an option which says “Reveal number if withheld”. That means the number is sent to me and logged in the call records. After all, if I am paying a fee to receive each call, I’d like to know that if there is a nuisance caller, I can just not answer them, and not be charged for the call.

When someone dials 141, then it depends on the receiving exchange as to what happens with the number. In the case of a public service network, such as BT, the exchange has been programmed to store the number (to be able to prove nuisance calls, but can only be checked by Openreach staff) but for Caller Display and 1471, reports “Withheld”.

When a call doesn’t go to a BT exchange, it is up to the recipient as to what happens. The firm I use offers the option to receive that number (or display the number the person called, so if I have 5 numbers for 5 different companies, the call can be answered with the correct company name).

It’s why dialling 141 999 would not ‘hide’ a caller’s number, similarly if the number is “always withheld” (an option you can ask for from the telecom firm charging for line rental), the number still would not be hidden (important in an emergency in case the phone goes dead… they can call back, and more important, can get name and address of account holder so can request emergency services visit the location.

Peter Morgan says:
4 October 2013

I used to use BT, and had “BT Privacy” and did find Caller Display very useful (you also need it if you want to be able to receive SMS messages on your landline phone, and have a suitable handset).

Since they have repeatedly increased line rental every 12-18 months for years, and in the past “justified” the cost as it included weekend and evening calls, I looked around for someone giving me just the line rental (I generally use my mobile for calls to mobile, and found Three has dropped the PAYG price to just 3p/min to landlines and mobiles!).

I’ve been with Primus for the last 2 years, and they recently called me to inform me they have dropped the line rental price to 5.99/month (no “included calls” – but they have other options including evening+weekend or ‘anytime’ calls). I have a link on my website (and if you phone them, you and I could get a 20 pounds credit) but I don’t think I’m allowed to post a link here.

Grumpy says:
4 October 2013

Too true, but why do hospitals and doctors consider it necessary to withhold their numbers. There should be a campaign against it.

See my comment above regarding large switchboards.

Peter Morgan says:
4 October 2013

It’s fairly common for numbers to be “Withheld” by default. On a form I was looking at recently for a phone line and broadband deal, there was a box for number to be withheld without needing to dial 141. Some time ago I feel sure I saw that around 55% of residential customers are not listed in the directory. Many of those want their privacy, and therefore withhold their number.

I expect a number of doctors and other medical/ legal/ “out of office hours” callers to want their number to be withheld because otherwise the recipient of the call may try ringing them any time 24 x 7, hoping to get assistance, when that individual is not “on shift” and deserves their privacy.

Similarly, in a medical centre or elsewhere, there is a desire to keep incoming calls via the switchboard, where you might receive a call from a specific number which would be unsuitable for “anytime” use as the member of staff may not be at their desk.

Alan G says:
4 October 2013

Hospitals, Doctors and businesses suppress the number because they want you to phone in via their inbound call system, which has many lines (and probably an IVR menu system to direct you to the best team) rather than direct to a single phone. There is a much higher chance you will get through to somebody on duty if you use the official incoming channel rather than a direct line to an individual’s office. (Of course, they could set it up to provide the switchboard 08xx number instead, if they have one, but many don’t do that, which is rather more puzzling. Maybe they don’t know how! 🙂

Peter Morgan says:
5 October 2013

Unfortunately, many Telecom firms keep the user in the dark about what their exchange system can do. It’s an easy way to make more money by charging for any “programming” on top of an annual maintenance contract. There has been long-standing fraud where small companies have had their exchange “hacked” and had international calls routed through them, then being hit by their provider with a bill for thousands.

Providers sometimes reduce the bill (threat of being on some Consumer show may help) but expect the firm to make their exchange “secure”. The firm has no way to know how to do this (instructions for programming the kit is often not passed to end user, it’s how the supply/support firm keeps a noose around them and charges them rip-off fees… The small firm (the victim of the fraud) has to call in their reseller, and pay them for “securing” the system (when the reseller should have a duty of care to have done that anyway).

Some chap on R4 You and Yours this week is in this position and cannot get assurance (from the firm that set up his exchange) that this cannot happen again. He needs something in writing for his telco to know he has “taken steps” against it.

Lucky for some, it’s now possible to use a Raspberry Pi or similar to act as a telephone exchange “switch” and use Voice over IP to link staff on the internet (so no need for outgoing, chargeable calls, via the switch, so even if it was hacked it could not dial out!).

Peter Morgan says:
4 October 2013

Sorry – should have added that Primus (and a few others) charge around 2 pounds or 2.50 for Caller Display. I cancelled it a few months ago (most incoming calls are on my mobile nowadays) so never see any number displayed… I have the odd cold call, PPI claims, foreign call centre claiming to be “Microsoft” and telling me my computer has a virus (I use Apple iMac and linux and Windows and explain I’m an IT consultant and to stop wasting my time).

Anyway, if I had ignored calls, I’d never have answered the call from Primus when they wanted to tell me about the price reduction, so there can be unexpected calls that are to your advantage. I will save over a hundred pounds next year using Primus compared with someone paying BT 16.99 a month line rental.

I also use 1899.com for international calls – 1p a minute to USA and a number of popular countries (esp Commonwealth links), and 2-5p for most calls to EU landlines. Oh yes, and 5p per call if I am ringing one of my sisters’ landlines. That allows me 5 minutes, 50 minutes, 3 hours if need be, for just 5p. Can recommend them and been using them for 6+ years. Last debit was 1.50 which took 2 or 3 months to accumulate (so roughly 10x 5p calls each month).

It is absurd that BT suppresses the caller’s number unless the customer pays an additional monthly fee. Caller display is a standard feature of the global telephone network and it costs BT nothing to deliver this data. The only reason BT is doing this is in order to legitimise a misleading indication of price, i.e. advertising line rental excluding this additional charge for basic zero-cost functionality. It is just another form of drip pricing, a practice more commonly employed by the budget airline industry.

Alun Cairns, co-chairman of the All-Party Group on Nuisance Calls, has provided us with this comment:

“Charging for this facility is wholly unacceptable and flies in the face of what they told the Culture and Media Support Select Committee on September 3.

“I am about to introduce legislation that will force non-domestic callers to display their telephone number to help individuals identify and report nuisance calls.

“If they persist with this charging structure, I hope that telephone users seeking to limit nuisance calls will look at switching service providers.”

Can you ask him about adding market research calls to what TPS blocks?

I’m not impressed by the final comment from Mr Cairns. There’s a whole bundle of reasons why we choose one telecom service provider over others. This scam by BT should be stopped in its tracks by regulators or, in default, by legislators. We shouldn’t be expected to go through the rigmarole of changing suppliers every time some tiny – but vital – element of the service gets changed so that price and market manipulation can be deployed, as NFH explains above. BT is such a vast organisation that even a hundred thousand switches will barely register on its nervous system. The contractual lock-ins alone make what Mr Cairns said so superficial and condescending. I expect the self-importantly titled All-Party Group on Nuisance Calls to stand up for consumers, not tell us to naff off.

A bit smarmy, perhaps. Shows just how much power his “All-Party Group ” has, ie none at all.

We have the threat of switching in so many other industries and yet as we all know, industry isn’t bothered. In fact their business models all seem to be geared around getting new customers rather than retaining existing ones.

I wonder if Mr Cairns leaves in the real world, as going by his comment, it doesn’t look like it.

I have Caller ID and Voicemail free with Talk Talk, but for how long? I’m sure they are likely to jump on the charging bandwagon if BT customers lay down and are walked over. This happened with the Airlines. They urged us to do our own checkins and print our boarding cards thus allowing the Airlines to reduce the staff at the Airports. Now, if we do not do our own check in and print our boarding cards, they charge us a huge fee for doing what they did in the past for no additional fee. We need to shop around for a better deal, tell our existing provider we are moving unless they match or do better and carry out that threat if they are unwilling to agree. When my TT contract expires in Feb 2014, I am prepared to go back to an answerphone if I don’t get the right deal.

We must also ensure that we do not buy any BT phones and certainly not the one they introduced to help us deal with unwanted calls. I’m sure they have been rubbing their hands with expectation when monitoring the posts on nuisance callers. They have not suddenly decided to charge for caller ID and Voicemail and the manager who appeared before the Culture and Media Support Select Committee on September 3 knew this was in the pipeline. The Select Committee should have him back to explain.

FYI, BT is also going to start charging £1.75 a month for its BT Answer 1571 voicemail service.

That is true Patrick, That is why I mentioned 1571 in my comment. It’s really shocking!

Edward says:
4 October 2013

Have a phone with built- in answering system.Then you do not have to pay BT.II would have thought this was both blindingly obvious & very simple

Peter Morgan says:
4 October 2013


I find it very annoying to be charged (or use up some of my mobile minute allowance) for 1571 “answering” my call. There’s no guarantee that the person whose line was busy will actually listen to or check for messages – in some cases I’ve been told “Sorry, didn’t know a message had been left”.

If I get an engaged tone, there’s no charge and I can decide whether / how often to ring back.

HINT: For anyone who gets charged by their mobile network to LISTEN to their voicemail (it’s not uncommon whether using PAYG or on contract), in most cases the user can disable it, or call Customer Services and disable it. That way, if you are busy or phone is off or there’s no signal, the caller does NOT get prompted to leave a message and you don’t have any new messages costing you money to listen to! Success, no payment for calls I missed, they will ring me back if it is important enough to them…

“Have a phone with built- in answering system.Then you do not have to pay BT.”

So you saying people should now buy a new hone phone? That would cost money too you know?

Peter Morgan says:
22 October 2013

Yes, it costs money, but it’s a one-time cost and (based on a phone lasting for a few years) a relatively cheap option, if you are after an option to limit the times you ‘rush’ to answer the phone, only bothering when it is a call you are expecting, or from someone you know, or sounds important based on what the caller says when they announce themselves.

tom gray says:
4 October 2013

BT does not impress me in relation to the cold calling business. The situation is that I pay a monthly rental so that all and sundry can call me several times a day with information I don’t want and they are ignoring the fact that I am registered with TPS. I have more false calls than genuine ones. At one stage I complained to a BT sales person who was trying to get me to sign up for more services. He put me onto caller display which he claimed was free. My subsequent quarterly bill had a charge. It seems it was only free if your outgoing calls were with BT which mine were not. At present there is no incentive for phone providers to tackle cold calling, particularly in relation to overseas calls which are now my major source of cold calls. The only remedy I can find is to suspend my landline phone.

David says:
4 October 2013

I used to be charged for Caller ID before I moved from BT. BT have always maintained this was a chargeable service. Now I read here that it was free. Do I have any recourse to getting my money back?

Peter Morgan says:
4 October 2013

Probably not – Caller Display was only free if you decided to use “BT Privacy” (where your number was reistered on the TPS [Telephone Preference Service], and you had to also make a number of calls each billing period).

It was always in the BT Price List with a fee for rental, like most other network services (called “Calling Features” by BT).

I’ve had Caller ID since I got rid of my last rotary dial phone, long before BT Privacy came along and I’ve NEVER paid for it.

Peter Morgan says:
5 October 2013

Then if you’ve never paid for it, consider yourself lucky. You’re probably stuck on whatever you are using, because from now, if you ever switched to another provider and later went back to BT, the billing “glitch” that means you’re not charged for it would be unlikely to happen a second time… and like many others, you would then be paying for it.

I signed up for the BT Unlimited Anytime Call Plan just over a year ago. As part of the deal, three Call Features were included (free) with the 12-month contract. However these freebies have been dropped at renewal, no doubt in anticipation of the changes announced by BT early next year.

In a sense, I feel a double wammy is on its way. In January 2014, I’m going to be paying more for less. Let’s hope the mobile phone operators don’t follow suit and start charging for numbers to be displayed on their customers mobile handsets!

I can’t believe it costs them anything to provide it. If I’m right then charging for it is a rip-off.

Peter Morgan says:
10 October 2013

The software for System X was developed a number of years ago, and probably ran to many man-years in development time. Whichever business developed it sold it to telecom firms for many millions of pounds.

Each of those services is a feature, and by changing for features, a telecom firm can recover the cost of the software licences they are paying every year. When Anonymous Call Rejection came out, some time ago, I asked Ofcom to determine whether it was valid for this to cost much more than any of the other network services. They decided, having looked behind the scenes at commercially confidential information, that it was a justified cost.

If you think all the services (Caller Display, Call Waiting, Reminder Call, etc etc) are free, then Ofcom would probably explain very politely that that is not the case. Caller Display is just one of the “extras” that came with System X. It was not available before things moved towards digital exchanges and while BT has sometimes provided features for free, enhancements that have been added are very unlikely to have been cheap for them to purchase, and are therefore charged to customers.

If you have one of BT’s nice new “nuisance call blocking phones” do you need to have caller display? If so that would be £21 a year forever.

Taken from the BT 6510 webpage on the BT shop … * You need to have a Caller Display service from your network provider to block nuisance calls and for text messaging features. Charges may apply.

Senga says:
4 October 2013

I have just renewed my contract with BT. I followed the advice Which gave a few months back re negotiating a better deal. I said I was shopping around before deciding whether to renew my contract and I was offered a £1.30 reduction per month on broadband so said I would consider this. I phoned a couple of days later and was offered a £3.00 per month reduction which I have agreed to. Having said that, I was told that I will now have to pay £2 for my evening and weekend calls, £1.75 for caller display and £1.75 for the 1571 service from January. Since I have taken out a new 12 month contract I am getting caller display free but will have to decide 30 days before January if I want to keep the 1571 service which I would then have to pay for. Reading the comments posted here I have decided it makes good sense to now buy a phone with built in answering machine so thanks for the suggestion. It does make me angry however to think that BT is now charging for prices that used to be free and yes, I agree, they are cashing in on all these nuisance calls we keep getting even though I have signed up for TPS. Aaghhhh!!!