/ Technology

TalkTalk: why we launched a nuisance calls blocking service

Landline phone

One way to stop the scourge of nuisance calls is to block them before your phone even rings. In this guest post, TalkTalk’s CEO explains how and why they’ve introduced a service to block calls at a network level.

Anyone who’s ever received persistent scam or marketing calls will agree that it is a menace and not something we should have to put up with.

Customers I talk to tell me that getting calls from suspected scammers, along with aggressive marketing calls, are one of the more stressful experiences they encounter.

This echoes research by Which?, who found that eight in 10 people received an unsolicited call on their landline last month, with one third saying they’ve felt intimidated by such calls. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be like this.

Technology exists to tackle the problem head on, and this is why earlier this month TalkTalk became the first phone provider to allow customers to identify nuisance callers, report them and, in certain cases, block them at a network level if there is evidence of misconduct that breaches a strict set of rules.

How does it work?

The service allows TalkTalk homes to report suspected scam or nuisance callers for investigation. Two key categories that the team block are:

  • Repeat likely scam calls: for example, where a customer has received more than 10 calls from the offending number in the past 7 days and if when calling back the number is unobtainable (and not the official BT service message) or cannot be identified by its voicemail or IVR message, TalkTalk might block this number. These are often scam calls.
  • Nuisance Sales & Marketing calls: excessive and persistent cold calls from call centre operators or automated recorded messages, for example those that call in excess of 30 calls to a customer within 7 days. During a recent trial of the service, the team received reports of companies calling customers over 65 times in a week.

Each investigation can include assessing how frequently that number has called the customer, whether there are multiple complaints about the number, and calling the number to identify the originator.

What else are we doing?

As well as enabling customers to report suspected wrongdoers, it’s important to provide a range of tools to empower those at the receiving end of the calls. TalkTalk homes receive free caller display, as well as more advanced optional features like anonymous caller reject. This is supported with advice on ways our customers can manage unwanted calls.

Like Which?, I believe that it’s time nuisance calls are consigned once and for all to history. I’m pleased with the focus the issue is receiving in Parliament and our new service has even been welcomed by Ed Vaizey, Under Secretary of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and backed by politicians including Mike Crockart MP.

There’s certainly a great deal more that can be done and we would encourage other ISPs to follow our lead to help prevent British homes from becoming victims to nuisance calls.

Would you like your provider to introduce a nuisance call blocking service?

Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Dido Harding, CEO of TalkTalk. All opinions expressed here are Dido’s own, not necessarily those of Which?

Comments
Member

All this is is one big advert for TalkTalk. I hope they paid you for this Which?

Member

Hello Lee, we don’t accept advertising on Which? Conversation. We often publish guest posts from companies or well-knowns. In this case we’re happy to host a piece from TalkTalk as the company has done the right thing by consumers. We’d like to see other companies taking action against nuisance calls, and this is a step in the right direction. Thanks.

Member

You know I am a fan of Which? Patrick. But I have read the full post and this is what I have got from it:

“Anyone who’s ever received persistent scam or marketing calls will agree that it is a menace” That is not true. No need to paint every person with the same brush. I like them as I make money from them as we all know and it’s old news. But some people find them fun too. I admit only 1-2% of us like them. But TalkTalk have said “Anyone ” and this is not the case.

” TalkTalk homes receive free caller display,” In other words “I have read you all hate BT for now charging for this, come to us and you can have it free”

While I do enjoy reading posts on this website I do feel you have sold yourself to TalkTalk for this advert and it is upsetting.

Member

I disagree. TalkTalk seems to be a market leader in network-level filtering, both with phone calls and internet, albeit two very different technologies. Given the scale of the problem and TalkTalk’s lead in tackling the issue, it does merit a page here. Whilst it is encouraging to hear that TalkTalk is doing this, it wouldn’t encourage me to return to TalkTalk, where I experienced the worst ever customer service for a year and then left as soon as I could. When I next move home, I’m going to try to avoid having a physical phone line and instead receive fixed line calls via VoIP on a Flextel 020 number that I have bought at no cost to myself. Only friends and family will have my 020 number and I will give my 0845 and 0871 numbers to businesses (as Lee does).

Member

I was with TalkTalk a few years ago too and they are the wost company I have ever been with. It was so bad I moved to TalkTalk Business just so I could speak to someone in the UK. (I am with Plusnet now as I love Yorkshire).

Member

At least Dido Harding is not flogging a nuisance calls phone.

I have been a Talk Talk customer for many years, first as Tiscali BB and for several years as a phone and BB customer. I have never had a problem with my phone but do suffer BB problems about twice a year. Trying to get things resolved by their call centre is hard work. I now go straight to the Forum and it is a joy to deal with their forum staff.

A couple of weeks ago I had to take on a BT problem for a friend who was having no luck in getting his phone back in working order after it was out of action for over a week. It was also out of service for a week a few weeks earlier. I started off talking to their call centre and there was no difference between their customer service and the Talk Talk call centre. Both were just terrible and a long way away from the service their CEO’s think we are receiving. I eventually found an email address for a Gavin Patterson of BT, sent an email, and my friend was contacted by someone from head office, within an hour, and his phone was working the next day, after an engineer visited the junction box in the road.. I have also contacted Dido Harding in the past and she put me in touch with someone who helped resolve an issue. We should not have to go to the top of a company when we are dissatisfied with service, there should be a customer services manager we can contact when the call centre are unable to help.

Member
Chris Gosling says:
22 November 2013

Did you know that BT owns Plusnet?

Member

While BT do own Plusnet they are there own company are Plusnet. There 100000% better than BT,