|New 'Line and Calls' services - A consumer guide - October 2002|
'Line and Call' services - introduction
Telephone companies can now provide new 'Line and Calls' services using existing BT lines into customers’ homes. This leaflet explains how the 'Line and Calls' services work and how they could benefit you.
With 'Line and Calls' services, customers can get their bill for line rental from the same company that they choose to carry their calls. For some time, you have been able to choose different companies to carry some or all of your calls, while keeping your BT line. You do this by selecting these companies in advance or by dialling a prefix before the telephone number. But if you use these services, you get two bills - one from BT for your line rental and one from your chosen company for your calls.
In parts of the country, you can also choose cable television companies to supply your telephone line and calls.
All these options will continue to be available. The new 'Line and Calls' services will bring extra choice and encourage more competition.
'Line and Calls' only applies to standard 'landline' telephone services. Other telecoms services are unlikely to be affected (such as broadband, mobile and Internet services).
How can I benefit from these new services?
Different phone companies are likely to offer a choice of packages. Prices will vary for line rental and calls, and for additional services. By shopping around and comparing prices, you may be able to get a deal that is better for you. For some tips, see 'What to look for when you shop around' below.
What happens to my telephone line if I take up a new 'Line and Calls' service?
If you choose a 'Line and Calls' service, your telephone line and number will not change, but your contact about your whole service will be with your new telephone company. It will send you your phone bill, and if you have problems making a call, or wish to report a fault, its customer service section should be able to solve the problem.
All telephone companies will provide:
If you have more than one telephone line, you can choose different packages and different telephone companies for each line. However, all extensions on the same line will be on the same package.
My phone line is with a cable company – can I get the new services?
Yes, but there may be an extra cost on start-up. You need a BT line into your home to get the new services. If you used to have a BT line, it may be possible to reactivate your old line at low cost. The cost will be higher if a new line has to be installed.
Do I need to get a new phone or any special equipment?
You can use 'Line and Calls' services with any approved phone equipment, whether bought, rented or leased. This includes, for example, telephones, fax machines or extra loud bells.
If my alarm system is connected to my phone line – will it still work?
Usually there is no problem about alarm systems, but you should make sure by checking with the new phone company.
Will I still be able to get additional services on my phone line?
Popular additional services include last caller’s number, voice messaging, call forwarding, selective call barring, and finding out the amount spent on calls since the last bill.
With 'Line and Calls', companies are likely to offer most or all of the additional services currently available; and there may well be some new ones. Make sure you can get the additional services you want by checking with the company you are considering before you sign up.
Will I still be able to choose other companies to carry my calls?
Yes, you will still be able to choose other companies to carry all or some of your calls by selecting the companies in advance or by dialling extra digits in front of the number. You can get information on these services from our separate ‘CPS consumer guide’.
Will special arrangements for disabled customers still be available?
All telephone companies must provide the following to eligible customers:
How can I get this new service?
To get this new service you need to make an agreement (written or spoken) with your chosen new company. The new company and the company you are leaving will then write to you to confirm the transfer. You only need reply to these letters if you decide not to go ahead with the transfer. It is a good idea to keep all the paperwork safe for future reference.
There is always a ‘cooling-off’ period, when you have the right to change your mind about the transfer. If you do change your mind, you should contact your new telephone company straight away. If there has been a mistake about ordering the
transfer, or you do not have contact details for your new telephone company, you should contact your current telephone company. If you need more help, contact Oftel’s Consumer Representation Section (see 'Contacting Oftel', below).
How do I complain if I have a problem with my telephone service?
To complain after you have transferred to your new telephone company, you should first contact your new telephone company. If you are not happy with its response, contact Oftel or the appropriate national Advisory Committee on Telecommunications (for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland). See the contact details below.
Can I change my phone company again?
When deciding whether to change telephone companies, it makes sense to compare the different prices and services available.
We cannot recommend companies, but we can give you more information and advice about telephone services in the UK. As the market develops we may also be able to offer more information to help you decide on the best company and package for you.
Several other leaflets and factsheets may give you further helpful information. These include:
rights and choices as a telephone customer
If you have a complaint
– in England, Scotland and Wales
– in Northern Ireland
The Advisory Committees on Telecommunications (ACTs), which give advice to Oftel, were established by the Telecommunications Act 1984. They aim to ensure that the regulator and the companies supply telecoms networks, services and equipment; and take account of all users’ needs.
The other ACTS
CCE, DIEL and CfB
CCE – Communications
for England represents the interests of consumers in England.
phone: 020 7634
Scottish Advisory Committee on Telecommunications (SACOT) – represents the interests of consumers in Scotland
Secretary to SACOT
phone: 0131 226
Welsh Advisory Committee on Telecommunications (WACT) – represents the interest of consumers in Wales.
Secretary to WACT
phone: 01970 636
This explanatory leaflet was produced in October 2002 by Oftel with representatives from consumer groups and telephone companies.