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BT privacy

Free Caller Display - how to avoid unwanted phone calls

Well Done to British Telecom! As part of the crackdown on bothersome problem phone calls, BT have made CALLER DISPLAY freely available to anyone with a BT phone in the UK. This represents a considerable improvement, as it used to cost £1.50 per month, and now it's free. BT Caller Display in effect tells you who is calling you before you pick up the phone.

The "BT Privacy" offer has two parts, which you can opt to have either of, or both of. One part is the free Caller Display, and the other is your option of going on the Telephone Preference Service to disallow all sales calls (some of which would be phone spam).

To use BT Caller Display you need a special device, either a stand-alone unit or a feature integrated to a modern phone which can actually display the incoming phone number. These are available (and sensibly priced) from BT Shop and many other electrical shops and gadget shops. You can get such a thing before or after opting onto BT Privacy (caller display option).

Caller Display tells you the incoming number before you pick up the phone, so this is especially good versus nuisance calls (hoaxers) and known bad telephone marketing companies.

If you have a BT phone in the UK, you can opt to join BT Privacy (yes, it's free), by going to www.bt.com/btprivacy or by phoning (UK) 0800 121 8000.

It's nice to see BT giving away something free, and so when this happens it's good to say Well Done BT! Cynics wishing to see an ulterior motive in this will find no answer in the idea that BT will sell more fancy phones and gadgets, as these aren't exactly an expensive and profitable item, and besides they are available from many different places. It may have to be acknowledged that BT introduced the service out of the goodness of their own hearts, although it also makes good business sense for BT to help to knock down telesales from some of their rivals poaching their customers by badgering them on the phone.

BT's clever advertising campaign shows people being interrupted and inconvenienced by incoming sales calls, illustrating the valid point that the phone should be there for your convenience rather than for companies to phone you up. Well said!

The BT info pack also includes a cleverly designed sticker which looks like a doorbell with a warning which helps to deter door to door reps from disturbing you.

Special subsequent note and warnings: It now appears to be the case that BT Caller Display ceases to be free if you move your phone calls to other phone providers, but BT don't tell you! I think that's a bit naughty. You end up paying for a service which you signed up to as free. Also, on your BT phone bill, it's displayed as "one-off charges", which looks like a way of obfuscating what it really is.

On the "Telephone Preference Service" part of the BT Privacy package, you should be able to make a definite decision on whether you want to sign up for the Telephone Preference Service and then stick to your decision. I found in my own experience that even though I did not opt for it, I still ended up being signed up to it (by BT), and I had to make a special request to avoid it.