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    • 2 Post By marjohn56

    Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines

    This is a discussion on Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines within the Everyday Life forums, part of the Community channel category; Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines - ISPreview UK UK ISP Andrews and Arnold ...

    1. #1
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      Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines

      Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines - ISPreview UK
      UK ISP Andrews and Arnold (AAISP) reports that some of their broadband-only customers are still being charged around 30-40p for phantom calls to 123 (Speaking Clock) and that’s despite the use of Outgoing Call Barring (OCB). The finger of blame is once again being pointed at BTOpenreach’s contractors.

      Last year we ran a piece on this same problem and so today’s story could perhaps be consider a follow-up (here), albeit one with some interesting twists. In our original report it was noted that engineers working for at least one of Openreach’s contractors (e.g. Kelly Communications) were sometimes calling 123 in order to identify if a line (spare copper pair) was available for use with another customer.

      At this point if the call to 123 didn’t connect then the engineer sometimes incorrectly assumed that the line was inactive and moved it for use by another customer, which left the original owner of the line with a dead service and an unwanted 30-40 pence call charge to the speaking clock. Needless to say that this is NOT standard practice for Openreach’s engineers (they call a special number to test lines).

      A Spokesperson for Openreach told ISPreview.co.uk (March 2014):

      Openreach is fully focused on connecting new customers and helping restore service to those experiencing a fault. We do not condone impacting one customer’s service to restore another’s and we take such allegations very seriously.

      We would encourage anybody with any evidence of this activity to report it to Openreach immediately and we will investigate
      .”
      Since then Openreach has been keeping a closer eye on their contractors, although ISPreview.co.uk has continued to receive occasional complaints about phantom 123 call charges (we see these gripes from customers of various ISPs, such as PlusNet, BT and of course AAISP etc.). Some providers, such as PlusNet, have allegedly even refunded a few customers for related calls.

      However one problem with 123 is that it’s very difficult to say for sure that the charge came from a telecoms engineer, rather than perhaps a naughty 5 year old playing with the handset etc.

      The latest situation adds a new dimension to this because AAISP has noted that the calls to 123 are still being spotted, although they’re now cropping up on broadband-only lines where Outgoing Call Barring (OCB) has been enabled and so 123 shouldn’t even work.

      Adrian Kennard, Managing Director of AAISP, said:

      Customers have mystery charges to 123 on their bills. These are customers that do not even have a telephone connected to the line as it is provided for broadband only. So the most likely explanation is an engineer testing the line with a call to 123.

      What is stranger is that the lines in question do have OCB enabled, and so a call to 123 should not have worked. One of them is even set up with our message (using “Direct Connect”) and so does not even have a proper dial tone or a means to call 123. This suggests BT have a more serious problem of allowing calls on lines with outgoing barring enabled, or some serious billing system errors causing calls to be put on the wrong line!
      At this point we should remind readers that AAISP are one of the few ISPs that sells a raw copper line rental service, which effectively does away with many of the phone/voice components so that it can act as a kind of broadband-only (Naked DSL) service. As such it’s much easier for them to spot when calls to 123 are being made in an incorrect way.

      AAISP has already raised the problem with Openreach, which saw one of their agents give the following flaky response: “Perhaps someone deactivated it? Not sure OCB blocks 123 either (speaking clock)“. We have also asked Openreach to comment and are awaiting their reply. The 123 issue is quite well-known and so we’re a little surprised that it still occurs.


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    3. #2
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      Re: Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines

      At least it times out these days. Gone are they days when the jilted 'ex' would dial the speaking clock and then leave the building, I remember seeing some horrific bills being presented.

      Oh well, hell hath no fury...
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      Re: Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines

      The speaking clock, assume we are talking where that bloke reads back the exact time.
      Not sure that I ever used it or even knew that it still existed.
      I'm sure if I remember you once dialled TIM or something, so 846.
      Did not know that it cost money or it was now 123.

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      Re: Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines

      I thought that it had always cost money to dial the speaking clock.

      The point from the article is that complaints were raised previously about BTO Engineers dialling '123' to test lines. This time not only are they still doing it, but thy appear to be doing it on lines that shouldn't even be able to dial any chargeable number.

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      Re: Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines

      Outside director areas (large cities) and before deregulation the number for the speaking clock was 8081 and 8091 for the weather forecast. Remember Dial a Disk?

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      Re: Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines

      No, I remember asking my grandad for the time, he didn't have a phone.
      Scubbie and seawright like this.
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      Re: Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines

      If openreach can't fathom electronic data retention then maybe they should try these?
      Cable Labels - Self Adhesive Pack of 24: Amazon.co.uk: Office Products

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      Re: Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines

      If only things were that simple.

      The simple truth is that whilst it works, the mesh of wiring between your home and the equipment in the telephone exchange is a real mess.

      Too many engineers who haven't done their job correctly in the past (it only take one or two) have left many cables unidentifiable and all too often when they identify a faulty cable, it isn't cut to a point so that it can't be reused.

      A 'simple' trunk cable from the exchange may be split across say 10 different customers. They won't necessarily be 10 home in a row, but could be a different ends of different roads. When someone moves from one provider to another, a different pair of wires in a different trunk cable might be used.

      This all adds up to a complete mess.

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      Re: Phantom Calls to the 123 Speaking Clock on BT Openreach Phone Lines

      The cabinets do always look very jumbled and packed to the limits, when you see an engineer with their head inside.
      Not sure if that promotes mistakes.
      There is a virgin box in town here, that has had one missing door for a long time and all the cables hanging out, it looks to be in use with many lights flashing.

      But watched an engineer recently connecting a new neighbour and they were very methodical and very safety concious climbing up and down the telegraph pole.
      He put the master box in the best position and nicely trained the line.
      The neighbour asked us for the best place for the box re router setup, being centre house in our victorian houses.
      This was a new line, as the previous occupants had virgin, they now have sky. Mind it was a bt engineer doing the phone work and then next day they had a sky engineer arrive for the sky box/dish.
      Last edited by lettice; 04-11-15 at 11:56 AM.

     

     

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