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Had a phone fault? Watch out for odd call charges
Tuesday 01 April 2014 10:25:46 by Andrew Ferguson

It is not clear how many people are affected by the issue we will discuss here, certainly we do not recall anyone mentioning it before, but you can find others using your favourite search engine. Alex Bloor who works for Andrews & Arnold has blogged about the experience of finding their line was suddenly not working on the same day that a Kelly engineer was working at the street cabinet.

The faults arose for Alex because it appears that the testing to find a spare pair by the Kelly team was either not done or random pair selection took place. Fixing a broken telephone by connecting it to a spare pair at the cabinet is a fairly standard procedure, but records are meant to be checked and tests done to ensure a live pair is not stolen. The last time we saw this as a widespread issue was when SDSL did not carry a phone signal, so to phone engineers it was essentially dead and spare.

Beyond the inconvenience that a non working line creates there is also the issue of the costs that can arise from what is believed to be the test procedure by Kelly staff to find a spare pair.

  1. croc clip the line
  2. listen for dialtone
  3. do the “123 test”
  4. do 17070 to establish the number
  5. check the number with “Numbering” to ensure it is a stopped line

Now that looks reasonable, until you notice that 123 is actually the speaking clock, and can be charged at 15p to 30p and there is scope for an engineer to test several lines until they find one where the clock does not work. The reason AAISP lines are at risk of hijacking by this procedure is that outgoing calls are barred, in an attempt to create a naked DSL type phone line.

So the next time you have a phone bill that looks odd, check it for calls to the speaking clock.


Posted by zhango over 3 years ago
Thanks for that because it now explains why I had a charge last year for a call to 123 at the time I had a fault. I only use my landline for BB so shouldn't get any call charges and I had to Google the number to find it was the speaking clock. The girl at BT was great about it and agreed that as my phone was not working I couldn't have called 123 so refunded the charge.
Mystery solved!
Posted by Spectre_01 over 3 years ago
Wow really??? - dialing a premium rate service to see if it is a working line! :/

Why not just dial the first several digits of a local number and see if the line gives an out of service tone, then find out the number of the line using 17070 followed dialling it with your mobile to check if it takes IC calls.

Then maybe its spare and you get it confirmed before taking it.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
For AAISP naked voice lines would still not work as out going calls are barred.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 3 years ago
Sure, my suggestion is only for suspected out of service lines with dial tone, instead of dialling 123 which just shows a complete lack of respect for the account holder renting the line.
Posted by sean2003 over 3 years ago
I had a call to 123 on my broken line. At the time, I guessed it may have just been an accidental pulse from the broken line rather than a deliberate dialling by someone.
Posted by nickofherts over 3 years ago
One of our customers had a noisy line. BT line check showed an earth leg fault. The phone bill had a number of calls to 4,5,6 and 7 digit numbers. All invalid but billed nevertheless ! It was only for a few pounds so never bothered to take it up with the carrier.
Posted by idf03 over 3 years ago
"had to Google the number 123 to find it was the speaking clock."

I feel old
Posted by naptonboy over 3 years ago
Saw a call to the speaking clock on my last bill.Never made it. Directed the manager at BT to your article, he didn't believe it. Complaint will be winging its way to BT soon!
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