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Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

sianbarrett
Dabbler
Posts: 14
Registered: 08-12-2015

Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

Plusnet has been my internet service provider since I moved to Suffolk in March 2014. We have a landline, but the only reason anyone in the house would use it is to phone my mum, who doesn't really understand about mobiles. A few weeks ago, I found that the line had become so crackly, I couldn't really have a proper conversation, so I stopped using the phone and made a note to contact Plusnet to ask them to send someone out and have a look at the line. This all gave me a reason to specifically notice that I hadn't phoned my mum for several weeks. I was therefore puzzled to receive an email saying that I had reached my credit limit of £55. I logged into the Plusnet portal and discovered the following data in my most recent itemised bill:
Date of call Number called Time of call Duration Cost
04/12/2015 123 20:59:42 00:01:00 £0.50
04/12/2015 123 18:27:45 00:01:00 £0.50
04/12/2015 123 17:06:49 00:01:00 £0.50
04/12/2015 123 01:16:37 00:03:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 23:59:59 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 23:49:05 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 23:46:22 00:02:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 21:17:00 00:02:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 21:07:50 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 13:09:43 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 12:56:06 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 11:07:07 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 10:42:30 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 10:11:04 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 09:35:44 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 04:13:15 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 03:08:53 00:04:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 03:01:10 00:02:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 02:11:25 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 01:29:28 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 01:28:04 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 00:45:55 00:01:00 £0.50
03/12/2015 123 00:18:21 00:01:00 £0.50
02/12/2015 123 11:29:08 00:01:00 £0.50
01/12/2015 123 15:09:30 00:01:00 £0.50
01/12/2015 123 13:04:34 00:01:00 £0.50
01/12/2015 123 12:46:06 00:01:00 £0.50
01/12/2015 123 12:03:39 00:01:00 £0.50
01/12/2015 123 01:06:13 00:01:00 £0.50
01/12/2015 123 00:59:42 00:01:00 £0.50
01/12/2015 123 00:47:53 00:01:00 £0.50
01/12/2015 123 00:41:33 00:01:00 £0.50
01/12/2015 123 00:38:38 00:01:00 £0.50
30/11/2015 123 23:48:22 00:01:00 £0.50
30/11/2015 123 21:26:57 00:03:00 £0.50
25/11/2015 123 21:19:08 00:01:00 £0.50
25/11/2015 123 20:39:18 00:01:00 £0.50
25/11/2015 123 20:30:47 00:01:00 £0.50
24/11/2015 123 09:06:52 00:03:00 £0.50
20/11/2015 123 10:05:12 00:01:00 £0.50
In case you weren't totting up as you went along, that's 146 phone calls, 4 hours 22 minutes and £59.90 in total. As I said, I haven't used the phone for several weeks, and I certainly haven't phoned the speaking clock 40 times since the 20th November. A quick internet search of this phenomenon turned up the following results:
http://www.okcheersbye.co.uk/kelly-communications/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/household-bills/11720945/Heres-proof-that-phantom...
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bt-engineers-ring-speaking-clock-5748745
https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/timeline-123-speaking-clock-call-charges-phone-bill/
http://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/mystery-calls-phone-bill/
Plus the following forums threads:
http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=4937425
https://community.bt.com/t5/Phones/Phantom-calls-to-123/m-p/1504896/highlight/true#M43717
https://community.bt.com/t5/Phones/Mysterious-timeline-123-calls/m-p/748768/highlight/true#M24388
https://community.bt.com/t5/Bills-Packages/high-bill-for-123-calls/m-p/1465799#U1465799
https://community.bt.com/t5/Phones/Fibre-optic-installed-in-Kingsclere-gt-landline-outages-amp-123/m...
https://community.bt.com/t5/Phones/Billed-for-calls-not-made/m-p/1538203/highlight/true#M44998
http://community.plus.net/forum/index.php?topic=139878.0
I contacted Plusnet customer support, who passed me on to the "tech" team, who declared it could only be to do with an engineer if we'd had an engineer come specifically to our house, which we hadn't. When I pointed out that the extension of a telephone phone line beyond the boundaries of your own property is rather the point of having a phone, he changed tack, maintaining that he "didn't see a pattern", and that it was likely that I had somehow managed to make the calls myself, but he would get the billing team to call me within the next 3 to 5 working days regarding the disputed calls.
Feeling disgruntled and hopeless, I phoned straight back hoping to speak to someone a bit more inspiring. The man I spoke to saw that I had already made this complaint, so I explained that I didn't think the man I had spoken to before really believed or cared that Plusnet has basically allowed £60 to be stolen from my pocket. He agreed that the other guy had been a bit unhelpful, reduced the response time to 72 hours, and assured me that even if, worst case scenario, this isn't resolved before the bill is due to be paid, it will certainly be refunded.
Let it be known that the outcome of this unresolved issue will be reported on as many consumer forums as I can get my hands on. To be continued...
25 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 7,993
Thanks: 637
Fixes: 8
Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

Are you sure their are no devices in your house that have the ability to contact the speaking clock,  I recall something similar in the press several years ago when someone else had a massive bill due to some item constantly requesting a time check, what other items have you got that might do this, a burgular alarm connected to your phone line might cause this or something with wifi ?
Apologies if you have checked these things out or they don't apply.
sianbarrett
Dabbler
Posts: 14
Registered: 08-12-2015

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

Hi there, thanks for your message.
The first person I spoke to on the phone also suggested this... no, we don't have a home alarm system or anything like that. The only devices connected to that line are the landline handset and the router.
dick:quote
jab1
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 1,633
Thanks: 312
Fixes: 5
Registered: 24-02-2012

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

Have you any idea who those numbers belong to? One minute (minimum charge) suggests some sort of alarm check.
As gleneagles said, apologies if you have already checked.
John
RobPN
Pro
Posts: 811
Thanks: 76
Fixes: 3
Registered: 17-05-2013

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

What number do you get reported back if you dial '17070' (free call).  I'm just wondering if your line has been swapped with that of someone else by a bungling engineer at the cabinet or exchange.
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,315
Thanks: 973
Fixes: 57
Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

This one
25/11/2015  01728452392  20:29:52  00:01:00      £0.26
is the Jubilee Hall Aldeburgh
This may help http://www.telephonecodes.info/code/01728#sthash.O5TZEICT.dpbs
See allocated sub sets
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,735
Thanks: 12
Registered: 02-02-2008

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

A lot of those numbers look like (ignoring the exchange code) a relatively random set of presses on a keypad.
Could "something" be calling, as an example, 321332 and as it is actually a valid local number it gets logged and the exchange code (01728 for Saxmundham) added in the record?
123 (speaking clock) would just be a variant of those.
For example a faulty digital phone, stuck keypad or even a cat? Or faulty exchange equipment?
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,651
Thanks: 206
Fixes: 9
Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

If you want to listen to the speaking clock, http://www.speaking-clock.com/ is free of charge. Cheesy

pwatson
Rising Star
Posts: 2,468
Thanks: 8
Fixes: 1
Registered: 26-11-2012

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

I'm assuming that you are on the 01728 exchange?
It looks to me that the calls could well be the fault on your line causing this - Intermittent breaks and makes being interpreted as pulse dialling.  Most of the numbers dialled consist on 1, 2 and 3 with the odd sprinkling of higher numbers.  You can ignore the 01728 as that doesn't need to be dialled.  The calls to 123 are caused by this as well so you can rule out 'engineer action'
sianbarrett
Dabbler
Posts: 14
Registered: 08-12-2015

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

Quote from: jab1
Have you any idea who those numbers belong to? One minute (minimum charge) suggests some sort of alarm check.
As gleneagles said, apologies if you have already checked.

Hello, thanks for replying,
No, there are only a handful of people whose landline numbers I have who live in our area code, and none of them appear in this bill, and we don't and never have had a home alarm system.
sianbarrett
Dabbler
Posts: 14
Registered: 08-12-2015

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

Quote from: RobPN
What number do you get reported back if you dial '17070' (free call).  I'm just wondering if your line has been swapped with that of someone else by a bungling engineer at the cabinet or exchange.

Hi, thanks for your suggestion. I phoned that number, and it read our normal landline number back.
sianbarrett
Dabbler
Posts: 14
Registered: 08-12-2015

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

Quote from: Oldjim
This one
25/11/2015   01728452392   20:29:52   00:01:00       £0.26
is the Jubilee Hall Aldeburgh
This may help http://www.telephonecodes.info/code/01728#sthash.O5TZEICT.dpbs
See allocated sub sets

Hello, thanks for the information. Neither my husband nor I have any recollection of calling the Jubilee Hall, or indeed of using the landline at all.
sianbarrett
Dabbler
Posts: 14
Registered: 08-12-2015

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

Quote from: HPsauce
A lot of those numbers look like (ignoring the exchange code) a relatively random set of presses on a keypad.
Could "something" be calling, as an example, 321332 and as it is actually a valid local number it gets logged and the exchange code (01728 for Saxmundham) added in the record?
123 (speaking clock) would just be a variant of those.
For example a faulty digital phone, stuck keypad or even a cat? Or faulty exchange equipment?

Thanks for your response. I don't know what exchange equipment is, but there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the digital or physical functioning of the handset, and we don't have any pets.
sianbarrett
Dabbler
Posts: 14
Registered: 08-12-2015

Re: Mystery calls to 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local numbers

Quote from: vilefox
If you want to listen to the speaking clock, http://www.speaking-clock.com/ is free of charge. Cheesy

That's great, thanks.
pvmb
Rising Star
Posts: 263
Thanks: 17
Fixes: 1
Registered: 12-02-2014

Re: Mystery 123 ("speaking clock" or "timeline") and unknown local calls

Do you recognise the 01728... numbers?