Ofcom today published information about the main services offered by phone companies that can help consumers protect themselves against nuisance calls and compare any charges that may apply.
Some of the call features offered by landline providers include Caller Display, Incoming Call Blocking, Anonymous Call Rejection, Last Caller Identification (or 1471) and Voicemail (or 1571).
Ofcom has set out the charges for these services across seven landline providers. In some cases, these services are free. In other instances, monthly charges can apply and may vary depending on which particular package a customer is signed up to.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom's Consumer Group Director said: "When shopping around for a new landline service or provider it's important that consumers have access to information about a range of factors such as price, quality of service and any additional call features.
"For many consumers, protecting themselves against nuisance calls may be a high priority and providers offer a number of useful services.
"We have set out information about some of these services to help consumers understand the choice available and whether they're free or cost extra. This information is intended to help consumers to make an informed decision about the landline provider and package that might best meet their needs."
The prices listed are per month. The communication providers shown above are those with a relevant market share above 1% or with a universal service obligation to ensure that basic fixed line telecoms services are available at an affordable price to citizens across the UK (BT and KC). There are other communications providers offering the same or similar services. When choosing a provider consumers should also consider them and check their provision of the relevant services and the charges. Consumers who are a customer of another provider should check their services and charges.
For ease of comparison Ofcom has used a generic name and description for each of the services offered by the communications providers listed. Whilst the services are broadly comparable there may be slight differences in the way the services operate and the features they offer. Consumers should therefore check the precise nature of the service with the provider directly.
Information correct as at 10 December 2013
Caller display helps consumers (who have handsets capable of displaying numbers) identify who is calling them. A consumer can choose whether to answer an unrecognised number or not and shield themselves from potential nuisance calls.
Caller display information is also important so customers can report nuisance calls to Ofcom and other regulators, and for the effective use of handsets and services that rely on the telephone number to help block and filter calls.
Incoming Call Blocking
Incoming Call Blocking services can help consumers to tackle nuisance or unwanted calls by preventing selected numbers from getting through.
Anonymous Call Rejection
Scammers or callers making unsolicited or nuisance marketing calls may wilfully try to conceal their identity by withholding their number.
Anonymous Call Rejection allows consumers to stop calls from people who withhold their number from getting through.
Last Caller Identification or 1471
If a consumer receives a nuisance call, dialling the 1471 service immediately afterwards can help identify the telephone number of the last caller (unless the caller has withheld their number).i
Consumers could then contact the person or company to opt out of future calls, or report the caller to the relevant regulator.
Voicemail or 1571 (standard and enhanced services)
A voicemail service allows consumers to decline to answer certain calls (perhaps those from an unrecognised number) and make a choice whether to return the call once they have listened to the message.
Some providers also offer an enhanced voicemail service. This includes features such as remote access, allowing consumers to listen to messages from a device other than their landline.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
* On 30 September 2013, BT announced price changes for all its residential customers. These changes will take effect from 4 January 2014. The prices listed here are the prices that will be charged by BT from 4 January and not the charges currently applied by BT. Legacy products such as BT's Call Minder and Caller Display services, offered as part of BT's call features package, have not been included as they are no longer being actively marketed by BT.
BT's caller display product is currently free with the BT Privacy product when consumers make a minimum of two calls per month. If the call quota is not met customers are charged £2 a month. From 4 January 2014, the service will be free on request with a 12 month line rental contract or charged at £1.75. Customers on the BT Basic tariff will receive BT Privacy with caller display without charge and with no commitment to a 12 month line rental contract.
KC's charges of £1.02 for caller display and £1.00 for anonymous caller reject applies to consumers who are on their light user scheme, KC Local and homelite tariffs. For all other tariffs, including their social access package, the services are free. The charge of £1.02 for 1571 voicemail applies to the light user scheme, KC Local, homelite and the social access package.
** This service is not available to Virgin Media’s cable customers.
i The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive contain provisions enabling a calling party to withhold their calling line identification (CLI). The ICO has primary responsibility for enforcing these regulations.
ii Price comparison websites can assist consumers when they are choosing communications services. Price comparison websites can apply to Ofcom for independent accreditation so consumers can be confident that they are receiving accurate, transparent, up-to-date and comprehensive information. Currently, six price comparison websites are Ofcom-accredited. These are Mobilife,BillMonitor, broadbanchoices.co.uk, Simplify Digital, Broadband.co.uk, and Cable.co.uk.