British Telecom Bill Part Two.

  AlanRLong50 11:46 21 Jan 05
Locked

I have an update for you.My cousins phone bill is currently being taken up by her County Councellor and her local MP along with a huge report in the county newspaper about her plight.Additionally, a hard-hitting article is currently being planned for another county paper.Either way,BT now have to investigate this at corporate level and reply and respond accordingly. I do have a question though which I think you might be interested in replying.If BT own the inbound phone line from which all services must pass through their network,and if BT also own the outbound phone line from which all services must pass through their network,and irrespective of what services are used within that household (i.e.internet, satellite and phone services),and if BT security on these rented lines is substandard enough to allow its network,and therefore its customers, to have their services stolen and misused by others for whatever purpose,then is it fair to say that irrespective of the outcome,that BT are the sole network on through which all traffic is generated and used? If the answer to this question is 'yes' not 'no' then BT must be to blame for all the inherent faults and failures of its receiving and transmission equipment.If that is so,why is it BT then blames its customers for the its own failure to make proper provisions of security for all its own customers? In effect,abject failure by BT to secure its own lines and allow them to be abused is BTs fault alone and not its customers. Does anyone have an opinion on this very complex question please? I again thank you very much for all your kind help and opinions on this.

  FelixTCat 11:53 21 Jan 05

A nice thought, but I don't think it will ever fly. BT's argument is that it provides the telephone lines; hown you use them is your business. If your argument was to hold, then the Post Office would be responsible for all the junk mail you receive and should be prosecuted if it delivers anything pornographic, even if you ordered it.

Every individual is responsible for their own actions and answerable for their lack of actions. Why should BT provide firewalls, virus scanning, spam filtering etc, especially if they were not the ISP?

  ventanas 12:05 21 Jan 05

Sorry, but It has to be the users responsibility to ensure that their line is not being misused. It may sound tough, but that's how it is. There are plenty of programs that will stop these diallers getting on to your system, a lot of them free, and plenty more that will remove them if they do infect. You can also set your line to block all outgoing premium rate calls, as I have done.

As there is now a lot of publicity about this sort of thing there is a good chance that BT may be sympathetic. But if they are not the bill will probably have to be paid.

As FelixTCat has said, it is probably down to the lack of action on your cousin's part in failing to adequately protect his system that will be to blame.

  pj123 14:51 21 Jan 05

I agree, but I also think that maybe a 50/50 option may be a better bet.

50% for the user not having any protection and 50% for BT or other telephone provider for not advising the subscriber that their telephone bill is escalating from their normal usage.

I am on NTL cable and my phone bill averages about £26 per month for phone calls. I would hope that NTL would give me some sort of warning if that suddenly shot up to £100+ at any time.

Fortunately, I am on NTL Broadband so (hopefully) I won't get dial outs to premium rate numbers (Premium Rate numbers are barred on my phone anyway)

I have all the protection installed like AVG, Adaware, Spybot, Spywareblaster and also a Firewall whether I need it or not.

Before I retired I was an IT Trainer for a County Council and the first thing I taught was: "get protection".

I have just been to someone (75 years old) who is having a problem and her computer had no protection on it whatsoever. She said she wasn't told. I installed all the above and AVG found 11 viruses and Adaware found 60 objects.

All have now been cleared. She knew nothing about call barring and has now got BT to bar premium rate calls.

  ventanas 15:14 21 Jan 05

Good point about BT not keeping tabs and advising customers about abnormal charges, but I suppose they could always say that all one has to do is log on to their web site where you can view your entire record and keep tabs that way. I do this once a week, just to be safe. It won't matter soon anyway as I will at last have BB at home.

  pj123 15:23 21 Jan 05

ventanas, OK so where is this website? Do you have to register first? Is it an accurate record of all your phone calls? ie; Telephone number, date and time called etc...? Most importantly, is it up to date, or is it a month behind?

  ventanas 15:29 21 Jan 05

Its here click here Click one of the links on the left. You can see an itemised list of all your calls just as they are on your bill. It is a bit long-winded to set up though.

  Spark6 15:30 21 Jan 05

For an in-depth info sheet on this subject click here

  pj123 15:58 21 Jan 05

AlanRLong50, sorry if we appear to be hijacking your thread, but why should it be our responsibility to check our phone bill. We sign up with a telephone provider and expect them to bill us every month/quarter. After a while they should know what our pattern is. If it becomes apparent to them that this pattern has drastically changed then surely they should advise us?

ventanas, thanks for the link. I am not on BT so I can't access it but I will pass it on to anyone who is on BT.

  FelixTCat 23:28 21 Jan 05

Do you really want BT or any other telephone provider to monitor your calls and usage? I am quite sure that I don't! You really should take responsibility for yourself. Otherwise, find a telecoms supplier that will only allow you £10 (or whatever) credit per month and block all calls after that except to its help line.

  Forum Editor 00:32 22 Jan 05

BT aren't responsible for the ways in which people do or do not use their phone lines. The job of a telephone network operator is just that - to operate the network. That includes the provision of a working telephone line on receipt of the requisite rental charge, and the provision of exchange-side technology to facilitate inbound and outbound analogue voice calls. Of late this remit has been extended to include the provision of ADSL data facilities on the same line on payment of an additional monthly charge.

That is basically it. It isn't part of the BT responsibility to guard against all conceivable 'abuse' although the company would probably (and properly) now consider that it should notify subscribers if it detects abnormally high charge rates - in connection with a premium rate number for instance. Premium rate dialers may be newsworthy right now, but that doesn't alter the fact that we shouldn't expect to shift the onus of responsibility entirely to BT. People download dialers - not BT. If a government agency decides that it will act to stop dialers accessing premium rate numbers, or that there will be additional restraints of use imposed on these numbers that's fine. What isn't fine is to seek to make BT the scapegoat whenever something goes wrong.

We can't have it both ways - if we want a society in which individuals have a high degree of freedom to live their lives as they would wish - unobstructed and unhindered by excessive intrusions and surveillances, then we must accept that each one of us must also assume responsibility for our own actions and security. It isn't the job of commercial organisations to act as nannies, any more than it's the job of governments to poke about and pry into our every movement. I want the freedom to phone any number I like, for as long as I like - I don't want BT watching over my every move, although I'll admit that a quick contact to let me know that the BT system has flagged a big jump in my normal calling pattern would not be such a terrible thing.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I'm sure that now we can all see the dangers of allowing excessive calling to premium rate numbers to go unremarked. Barring premium rate number access on a line is something that can be done with a quick call to BT, and I imagine that it would be relatively easy for BT to set up a system whereby subscribers were automatically notified whenever a predetermined billing total was about to be exceeded. That's for BT to decide however.

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