BT accused of profiteering over nuisance call ID fee

Woman on a mobile phone
Image caption Nuisance calls and texts are on the increase

BT has been accused by an MP who heads a group set up to tackle nuisance calls of profiteering from the problem.

The cross-party parliamentary group on nuisance calls says such services should be free of charge, in a report to be published this week.

The criticism follows news that the company has introduced a charge for its caller ID display service.

BT said the service would remain free if customers signed up for a 12-month contract.

The caller ID service allows users to screen calls and is generally seen as a good method to combat unwanted marketing calls.

Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart told the BBC that Ofcom and other interested parties were unhappy about BT's decision to charge a £1.75 a month for the service.

"When we started to look into this, BT talked about how important it was to have caller ID, but failed to mention that they were about to start charging for it," Mr Crockart said.

"This can be seen as profiteering on the back of nuisance calls."

'Improving the network'

BT said that it "takes the issue of nuisance calls very seriously".

The company said in a statement: "We work with Ofcom, industry and consumer groups to tackle the problem."

It also has a handset, the BT 6500, which bars calls from international and withheld numbers as well as up to 10 specified numbers.

"BT is improving the network over the next 12 months, so that the caller display service will also be able to display full telephone numbers calling from abroad," said a spokeswoman.

Unwanted calls and texts from companies selling products are on the increase.

Complaints to the Telephone Preference Service, which allows people to opt out of receiving UK-based marketing calls, have gone up despite critics claiming the service is ineffective.

'Law strengthened'

Consumer group Which? is leading a campaign to stamp out nuisance calls.

It claims that 85% of people received a nuisance call each month, with nearly six in 10 people so fed up with it that they no longer want to answer the phone.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: "Millions of us are being bombarded with nuisance calls and texts, and people are totally sick and tired of it. We're pleased to see MPs recognising that the current system is failing the public and that the government must go further and faster to call time on this menace.

"We need to see the law strengthened so people have greater control over use of their personal data and to make it easier for regulators to take action against companies breaking the rules."

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