/ Technology

Have you paid for ‘speaking clock’ calls you didn’t make?

Man looking at mobile phone bill

Do you check your monthly phone bill? It might seem like a bit of a chore, but you might miss something – like a ‘speaking clock’ call you were charged for but never made…

For most of us, looking through the list of calls and charges on our monthly phone bill is one of those mundane tasks we don’t always get round to. But maybe we should. Why? There are heaps of eagle-eyed landline owners who’ve spotted that they’ve been mysteriously charged 30-50p for a call to Timeline 123 (the speaking clock) that they didn’t make.

Engineers checking lines in your local area could be the cause. That’s what one Which? member was told after contacting Plusnet about a charge for a speaking call on their landline – placed when no-one was at home. After some back and forth Plusnet provided a refund, attributing such calls to BT Openreach engineers checking lines, despite having asked them to use a free number.

Others report ‘phantom’ call charges

A quick Google search reveals similar reports of being charged for Timeline 123 speaking clock calls, many on forums belonging to BT, Plusnet, Sky and TalkTalk.

Many of the posters are able to rule out themselves, children or elderly relatives from having made the calls. For some it’s a one-off, while others report up to seven calls over a couple of days. Some also managed to get a refund from their phone provider after persistence.

Are engineers calling ‘123’ to test lines?

We notified Openreach about the phantom calls – a spokesperson told us:

‘This is not an issue as far as we know. Openreach engineers have a special number to call to test a line that doesn’t result in a charge.’

Openreach offered to investigate any further examples we have, so we want to hear from you. How many of you are paying for calls you didn’t make? We may only have just scratched the surface, as not all of us religiously check our phone bills, nor do those who have bother to report odd calls we can’t explain. With 25m landlines in the UK, there could be millions of pounds going to these phantom calls.

Do you check your phone bill and have you spotted a rogue 123 call that you know wasn’t made by you or someone in your household?

Comments
MR Simon HODGINS says:
14 December 2019

I have 3 calls to the speaking clock in a row on a Sunday afternoon in November 2019. I did not make these calls and was charged 50p for each one.

Kay Poole says:
15 December 2019

I was checking my first bill with virgin mobile and there were 2 calls to 123
1 on the 19/11/19 for 10p at 15.02 and the other on the same date at 13.57 for 10p
Virgin have refunded
When I asked who they were to the Virgin advisor did not know who the 123 number was.

Lynda Bailey says:
28 December 2019

I’ve just checked my BT phone bill and found that I was charged 50p for a call to 123 made whilst I was away from the property. I immediately contacted BT and they have refunded me ÂŁ3 as a gesture of goodwill. No admission of how such a charge appeared on my bill though!