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What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

hbb98
Dabbler
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Registered: ‎09-07-2014

What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

First -- I apologise.  This isn't really about Plusnet's phone service.  I have some niggles with that, but I really want to ask for some pointers to sources where I can start to research a little and begin to understand what is happening to our landline phone service in the UK.
There are a few people who contact my wife and I by landline phone.  They're dying out. About 80% of the calls to us are "spam", by which I mean silent calls, obvious scams, repeated recorded messages everyday at midday, etc etc.  Recently, there are more and more "spoofed" phone-numbers -- like from a life-guard station in the Isle of Man, or a car repair shop in Lancaster .. and so on and so on. (I generally google the calling number when it is available to me.)    About once a year I get a marketing call that I might hesitate to classify as spam.  I am beginning to think of the (general) phone service as a seething cess-pit full of reptiles and criminals.  Like the internet, I suppose -- but surely someone somewhere has to pay real money to try to scam me over the phone?  It's not like they can just command some compromised computer somewhere to blast junk emails loaded with malware at me, it's the phone for chrissake....
I could go on.  I acknowledge this is is the wrong place to ask, but honestly I don't know where to start to understand this, and how it has come about, and why it keeps getting worse.  Some humiliating "Let me google that for you" put-down would honestly be gratefully received.  All I've found is some "task force" deriving from Which Magazine that is loaded with direct-marketing representatives full of utter woffle about how valuable it is to us little people to assailed by the tsunami of crap that makes the phone ring.
I don't want to be told what to do about it, or what gadget to buy to stop it. I've got a gadget, which works to some extent. I'm signed up with all the acronyms. I just want to know how it is that things have got so f'd up!
To try to make a tenuous connection to the thread I'm hijacking -- sooner or later one wonders why the hell one has to have a phone service.  Is it a punishment?  Cui bono?
27 REPLIES 27
Anotherone
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What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

Rather than hijack this thread (no problem with a first post it can be a bit bewildering where to post what) think of a suitable thread title for your issue and post back here and I'll asked a mod to move the post to a thread of that name.
Is your current phone service with Plusnet? If so it could be moved to the Home Phone board, otherwise the Chit-chat board may be the best place if phone service is with someone else.
hbb98
Dabbler
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎09-07-2014

What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

Yes my phone service is with Plusnet.  But I don't have phone problems, other than niggles with Plusnet,  so far.
I've no idea what forum to ask in, but if you'd like a better thread title, it might be, perhaps, "What has happened to the UK landlaine service, how, and why?".
I wondered about posting to some Thinkbroadband forum, but even they don't seen to have somewhere to ask.  It's really about phones, and only
tangentially about broadband.  I honestly don't know where to ask.

hbb98
Dabbler
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎09-07-2014

What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

> Is your current phone service with Plusnet? If so it could be moved to the Home Phone board ...
By the way, I thought I was in the Home Phone board...
Anotherone
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What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

So we are, silly me never looked at that, as this thread came up in my "Replies to your Posts"  Embarrassed
I can see the predicament, but your own thread on this board seems fair to me. I'll ask a Mod.
Oldjim
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Re: What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

split off and title changed
Anotherone
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Re: What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

Thank you Jim.
@hbb98 - difficult to know where to start on this one. I'll give it a bit of thought and post later. I've also got a few other clued up contacts that might have some bright ideas. I'm sure a few others will come here and post, I hope they read your comments about not needing kit or registering with whoever  Wink
hbb98
Dabbler
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎09-07-2014

Re: What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

Thank you all!
I've got as far as thinking that BT derive some revenue from transferring these calls to us, and then selling us equipment to block the calls they transfer to us.  There must be more to it.
But how much can it be?  How  can it cost so little for someone to ring me (and, oh, 100 thousand other people, I don't know) every day at about 2pm with the same recorded message about some Green Initiative?  (I suspect that that the Green angle is some misfiring, ill-thought-out government initiative.)
How has it become possible in the past few months for phone-spammers to spoof legitimate 1471 numbers?  Is this some newly-discovered broken-ness in our telephone system?
How come TPS is so routinely flouted?  What is special about Indian call-centres?
Why is Ofcom so toothless?  Why are they in thrall to direct-marketing organisations?

Maybe these questions just arise out of my ignorance.  I'd really like to get better informed. How do I start?  I don't want to be a conspiracy-theorist. 
There must be some hard facts to get hold of.  Where do I find them?
Thanks again.

chrcoluk
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Re: What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

TPS I think only protects from spam calls originating in the UK meaning its trivial to bypass, plus I dont think its even enforced properly.
BT probably do make money from these calls, else they would be blocking them for marketing reasons.
I have no idea how to spoof caller id, but there is even websites offering the service for prank calls, so it cant be that difficult.  My guess is because BT allow a number to be witheld (which itself  is a spoof), this has made a vulnerability which people have managed to exploit.
Landlines are close to been obselete for residential users, only my dad rings me on it (as he keeps going on about been too expensive to ring my mobile, he doesnt understand his mobile minutes doesnt care if mobile or landline), occasionally I get a call from someone like GP on the landline, otherwise its spam/nuisance calls.  I usually only use the landline for 0845 and 0800 numbers and thats it.  There is occasional exceptions but they exceptions only.  The obvious thing is mobiles are now cheaper to use than landlines with exception of certian 08xx numbers and mobile's are also more conveniant as can be used anywhere.  The only reason millions still have landlines is isp's bundling them with other services.
ReedRichards
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Re: What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

I have a small business and people usually contact me by telephone.  My telephone records the number of the last 25 calls.  Of these, 23 were land line calls, one mobile and one 0845.  I cannot remember what the 0845 number was but the other 24 were genuine calls.  I believe that is the usual pattern.  I am with the TPS and get no more than one marketing call a week.
So my personal experience is entirely contradictory to that reported by hbb98 (&chrcoluk).   
Anotherone
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Re: What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

Err, some of that is not entirely correct chrcoluk  Reed, you are lucky then. Most of my "spam" calls do originate in the UK usually in the recent past for PPI. but more recently for "Boiler replacement with government grants".
TPS rules apply to calls originating in the UK. I would actually say it applies to UK companies, whether it came from the UK or an overseas call centre - not specifically had that issue, but it depends on identifying the company. Most UK companies with overseas call centres don't operate in that manner anyway.
Yes there are quite a few "companies" that don't check the TPS register, they tend to use "sequential number dialling lists"
If you get a call with a genuine caller id in the UK, and you are TPS registered, there are a couple of things you can do -
1) Call the company, ask to speak to a manager, and tell them they have broken the rules & to remove your number from their lists and never call again otherwise you will report them to the I.C.O.
2) Report them to the ICO anyway without 1)
The ICO does take action, especially when it gets large volumes of complaints. You can report a number using their simple on-line form.
I don't know the method(s) to spoof the ID, but it's been possible for years. The withheld number option doesn't stop the caller id being transmitted, it still arrives at your local exchange. It's just that you don't have access to it if it's been tagged withheld. BT can access such info on an investigation, whether instigated by them or the Police or ICO, but not much use directly if it's been spoofed.
BT don't make money from all these calls, because it will depend on how they enter the UK telephone network. Most are likely to have originated from VoIP networks where they have been spoofed - those are usually the malicious/fraudulent ones. I would imagine it would be "possible" to track the source of such a thing whilst it was in progress, but likely to be a very specialised thing that only organisations like GCHQ, FBI, CIA, or major providers such as M$ etc can do when attempting to track down spam email. There will no doubt be some sort of record after the "event" but how traceable that would be I'm not sure. Recent legislation may help a bit in that.
Calls that enter the UK via the International UK Telephone exchanges no doubt earn BT a small fee, which I believe is "paid" by the sending Communication Provider in whichever country of origin. But how all that works these days I haven't a clue because there will be a similar thing for outgoing calls. It could be called a "termination fee" and may work in a similar manner to the ones you may have heard about in connection with mobile providers where OFCOM has forced them to cut the charge and I think goes to zero or near zero in years to come.
BT would have absolutely no idea whether a particular call was some sort of spam call wherever it came from. In theory they could block calls with a particular Caller ID but that would only likely happen where there has been large volumes resulting in complaints to the Police or ICO.
You should report fraudulent spam calls to the Police with as much detail as possible including the date and time of call and any caller ID - spoofed or not.
Edit: ah, one "silly" question hbb98, as you didn't mention it, are you "ex-directory" - no number in the phone book, and for how long?
Anotherone
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Re: What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

Another thought, more connected with calling any number to check if they are genuine, always withhold your number.
If it's a genuine UK company you get through to you, then you can verbally tell them your number to delete from their list and not call again.
The other thing, any company that you have a "contract" with, and have provided a phone number to, is entitled to call you even when you are TPS registered unless you have told them you don't want marketing or other such calls. I've recently had to tell my energy supplier to remove my number from their list as they've been trialling a new automated bill payment reminder system and it was damned irritating.
In any event I don't give any of them a landline number these days, If I give a number it's a mobile one - free caller ID  Smiley
Did you hear that Plusnet - free Caller ID? No point in mentioning it really, we've been harping on about it on here for years, even had polls. Just like all the providers now in the greedy Cartel, they charge  Angry
chrcoluk
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Re: What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

Quote from: ReedRichards
I have a small business and people usually contact me by telephone.  My telephone records the number of the last 25 calls.  Of these, 23 were land line calls, one mobile and one 0845.  I cannot remember what the 0845 number was but the other 24 were genuine calls.  I believe that is the usual pattern.  I am with the TPS and get no more than one marketing call a week.
So my personal experience is entirely contradictory to that reported by hbb98 (&chrcoluk).   

are you on a ripoff 084x number or 01/02/03?
The only people I know personally who use their landline with any regularity is my parents.  I dont know any young people who do.
Anotherone
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Re: What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

That's because they waste so much money on mobiles, usually texting Grin
Too many people have lost the ability to speak to one another  Sad
ReedRichards
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Re: What has happened to the UK land line service, how, and why?

Quote from: chrcoluk
are you on a ripoff 084x number or 01/02/03?

It's an ordinary land line 01 number.