Telephone issues


Registered User
Jun 12, 2008
Hi everyone!
I have just joined the site - my aunt has been diagnosed with Alzheimers. She is in her late 80s and has failing eyesight but is able to live in her own house so far, with frequent visits from her son and family and me - also the good fortune to have wonderful neighbours (worth their weight in GOLD!)
She is constantly phoning the speaking clock to find out what time it is - very simple - just dial 123!!!! Needless to say this is racking up horrendous bills for her - BT say they cannot just bar that number - it is - either barr all outgoing calls or none at all (of course they are making oodles of money out of it!) We do not want to stop her from being able to call any of us at any time.
We have bough her a clock thast will speak the time when she presses a button on it and that is very good but she forgets and rings the speaking clock again! (I wish she would forget that but no such luck)
She is a lovely lady and very appreciative of everything we do but she has a stubborn streak which is becoming more obvious as you can imagine. We love her dearly and do not like the way she is being taken advantage of really - has anyone any ideas?
I do realise our problem is small compared to what some of you are dealing with - well so far anyway...:)


Registered User
Sep 10, 2005
Hello Jo

Welcome to Talking Point, but sorry you're here.

The issue of telephones has been a problem for a few of us here on TP and the one you raise is particularly difficult! For me it is the fact that my mum keeps dialling 1471 (to collect "messages") and then, of course just rings the last caller by using "call return". Even if she doesn't recognise the number, she calls it. Meantime her messages pile up on 1571! I've tried lots of things, all to no avail because she can't remember. Even pre-programming one button for message collection! However, I have been able to bar calls (international and premium rate). I notice you say that BT won't do this for you (or rather it's not possible). There must be a way round it!

I will put on my thinking cap and investigate.

Sorry can't be any more positive at the moment. Perhaps someone else might have some ideas. I'll get back to you.


Registered User
Mar 23, 2005


Registered User
Aug 20, 2006
I have heard of devices that sit between the phone and the phone socket, that will only permit the dialling of certain preset phone numbers.

Unfortunately, though I've Googled every likely sounding combination of names, the only device I've come up with so far is one made and sold in the United States, called the Teleblocker.

Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that this would function in the UK, and even if it did, it wouldn't comply with BT standards so you wouldn't be able to legally use it anyway.

I think the one I saw was called something like a "Phone Nanny" - in that it operates much like a "Net Nanny" which blocks access to all but permitted websites.

I believe that there was a code you could enter before the actual number, that over-rides the "nanny" and permits the dialling of any number, operating rather like a PIN or Parental Control code.

Ah! As I typed I managed to locate this:

The Call Protector. However, it looks a bit complicated to set up.

What you really want is just a device that allows you to create a list of "permissible" numbers and that just blocks all the rest. I'm sure I've seen one but haven't been able to find it!

You'd think there'd be one about, given the way that little fingers can be tempted intodialling premium-rate "competition" lines.


Registered User
Jun 12, 2008
Thank you to all for your replies...
still racking my brains to try to stop that 123 being called - she did it 8 times yesterday between 9am and 9 pm - that is £3.60 + vat!!!
If I come up with any solutions I will share it with you - I find BT most unhelpful as all the calls go to Asia where they cannot understand what I am talking about. I should have the advantage really as my sister works for them but even she has had no joy --- must try her again.
Thank you again


Registered User
Sep 10, 2005
Hi Jo,

I haven't had to tackle this problem (yet), but according to this PDF document on the BT website:

If you look on page 4, there is a list of numbers that cannot be barred and 123 is not there.

However, it does look like the call-barring service is one you have to pay for as an extra feature on the account. I think I saw £1.75 a month mentioned somehwere.

Take care,

Hi Jo

Sandy's investigations look like they've come up with the answer. Even if she has to pay £1.75 a month, it's cheaper than your aunt's current usage at £3.60 per day. I'd give it a whirl, if I were you! I know what you mean about calling Asia. I had similar probs when just trying to transfer mum's phone account (not with BT) to my address under the terms of the EPA. (It took 9 months!!!) but in the end I got there ... and am still relatively sane :rolleyes:



Registered User
Jun 12, 2008
Thanks to all again!
I have emailed BT to see if they will allow about 6 numbers on the callbarring scheme - the cost would be £5.25 per quarter - a much cheaper option than 123 calls.
My worry is that I still want her to be able to contact a few numbers if she needs us.
She was at the stage where she never left the house only to go into the garden but the neighbours say that she is taking little walks (only a hundred yards or so) but it may be reaching the stage where she cannot be on her own (even with wonderful neighbours) much longer.
Will keep you all informed


Registered User
Jun 12, 2008
Update from BT - as I suspected - USELESS!!
I have copied the reply which gives a lot of useless information to me and tells me that I can either barr all calls or none effectively. A reply which has probably come from another country and has been written by a robot!
I am going to reply to this and tell them about how unhappy I am - not that it will do any good I am sure...


PS I have not got nor ever had a PIN for the call barring feature!:confused:

Thank you for your e-mail dated 14/06/08 regarding the call barring feature on your telephone line.

In response to your e-mail, , I do really apologise for the recent difficulties you have experienced with the 'Call Barring" feature. I would like to confirm that the you have the correct PIN for the call barring feature. However, I would like to give you the correct instructions in order to use this feature properly.

To Bar almost all calls:
* To activate the call barring : *341#
* To deactivate the call barring #341*PIN#

Bars all national (incl 0870), international & mobile calls:
* To activate the call barring : *342#
* To deactivate the call barring : #342*PIN#

Therefore, I suggest you to please use above instructions for this "Call Barring" feature. I also request you to please contact us via e-mail in case of any problem while using this feature so that we can provide you with our assistance. It would be highly appreciated.

Moreover, I like to inform you that there is not any such service in which you have upto 6 no.s to call on after putting a bar.

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us again via e-mail.

Thank you for contacting BT.

Yours sincerely,

eContact Customer Service
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Registered User
Sep 10, 2005
Hello Jo

Oh dear! Looks like a standard letter written, as you say, by a robot (as an aside, it might be worth you deleting the name of the sender?!).

Firstly, have you got EPA for your aunt? Because if you start going down the route of asking for a PIN for someone else's account you are going to hit a wall. Having said that, the issue I had with mum's phone company was that despite sending two copies recorded delivery of the reg'd EPA, making numerous phone calls, and writing follow up letters about the crummy service AND involving the telephone ombudsman, it wasn't until I wrote to the CEO's office of the company threatening to go to the press that I finally received a reply. As I said earlier this took nine months, and all I wanted to do was block calls on mum's phone to protect her (and, I guess the provider) from fraudulent use/scams etc and also change the billing address. Not rocket science, but it began to feel that way! (My only experience of rockets is watching the moon landings in 1969! :D)

So, you have two choices here. Persevere as you are, but with the chance they will come back and say you have no legal authority. Or register the EPA and (potentially) still have a saga on your hands but at least you hold the stronger set of cards. Of course by that time your aunt might have racked up a huge bill and you might just feel like unplugging the phone at the wall ... Not making light of it as I know how b****y frustrating it all is.

In my dealings with mum's phone co., the bloke in the CEO office said: "of course we have to be sure (legally) you are who you say you are hence demanding a copy of the EPA, because of the Data Protection Act." (This after I'd faxed a third copy to them). My reply was, "and what of the copies that were signed for as being received? Who signed for them? Where are they now? Who else has a copy of my mum's registered EPA?" He didn't answer. Companies blithely drop in the Data Protection Act at every turn, except when it's them losing the information, so don't let them fob you off.

On a separate, but slightly connected note, what of your aunt's utility bills, etc? I've got mum's coming to me now as meters weren't being read and letters were being shredded, so it was the only way to go in terms of keeping tabs on things. Might be worth you or another relly helping her with all her "administration"? Just a thought.

Good luck and let us know how you get on. :)


Registered User
Oct 15, 2005
Dear Jo

Do know that you cannot barr individual numbers except in the case of premium rate numbers when all premium rate codes are barred, it's an all or nothing situation, ie all outgoing calls barred except emergency 999 or all calls allowed. There's no in between even with the technology available now in that field, darned difficult, and have come across this so many times. Sorry can't help on this.


Registered User
Jun 12, 2008
Thank you to all for your input and support.
I have just been to visit my aunt and she is horrified by her bill and WILL NEVER ring the speaking clock again....How often have I heard that?
We have got her other bills fairly well sorted - my cousin (her daughter-in-law) can withdraw money and sign cheques so that is not a problem.
What we do though (as there are other relatives who do nothing for her but may in future interfere) is we keep a diary and have done for the past 3 years and we write EVERYTHING down so we cannot ever be pulled up for doing anything incorrectly (we hope!)
Reading some of the other posts - our problems are so very small compared with what a lot of you are coping with.
I am sure that in the future we will get such a lot of information from all the discussions - you are a wonderful bunch of people.
Talk soon


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
I use to be with BT

I use to bar everything but out going calls & still do the 1471, I am sure that no one could do the 123 because I never notices it on my phone bill, like I did when I use to get high bill from BT

one individual numbers stop one individual call

what I don't understand from that Email they sent you what is the Numeber you need to press to Bar 123 talking clock ?

because that what I presume is you all need to know ?

Seem you are not asking for to much for God sake

I had to do
*342# 2
*342# 3

can't rememeber what the 4 done , oh yes not pressing the 4 let me keep the 1471

but never the 1 or 5 , because if I did the 1 it stop all out going calles as did the 5 really confusting but after a year of high bill from my daughter I percervied in learning it :D
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Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Jo - you might want to have a look at something called COMMTEL INTERNET & PHONE GUARD . I have no idea if it works, but it claims you attach it to the phone socket and you can then put in an allowed list of phone numbers. Price varies widely apparently.


Registered User
Jun 12, 2008
Thank you so much for this - it looks promising.
This must be what another reply was talking about earlier.
I will certainly think about getting this device.


Registered User
Jun 12, 2008
Thank you - it works

The Comtel telephone device works well.
The only thing is that you need one for each phone socket - we put one on the downstairs phone and she got crafty and started ringing the speaking clock from the upstairs one! So I have one on order for that one now - still cheaper than the phone calls.
Check on ebay and they are from £6-£7 or thereabouts including postage.



Registered User
Feb 24, 2007
N E Lincs, UK
Hi all

I am relatively new in posting on this site. I haven't posted much as I am too busy reading through all the information, etc.,

This so rings a bell with me. My mum was dialling the 09 numbers and ended up with a bill of £200! When I first rang and tried to do the call barring for 09's the asian lady kept asking for a pin number. I was confused - I thought, how could there be a pin number? When had this been activated. I was thinking they had introduced one recently for all activities.

I had so misunderstood her. When I rang back a couple of days later and spoke to a chap, he was so much clearer. It transpired that I had to choose a pin number so that when the 09 blocking was not needed, I would just put the pin in to take it off!

She then received a letter from BT about her direct debits. They had changed her 12 monthly payments to £154 per month, even I knew that wasn't necessary to clear a £200 bill! When I rang up a chap said he would change it to around £50 per month. It was a good job I kept my eye on her bank bills account because the next month they had taken £158. On enquiring I was told that if I went to the bank and put in a claim form they would return the money to her account. I told them to keep the £158 in payment of most of the bill and reduce her monthly payments back to £15. I will keep my eyes on things to see if they can get this right.

Best wishes, Helen


Registered User
Jun 12, 2008
Telephone issues etc.

Hi Helen

Yes - we all have quite a job trying to keep on top of it all!
BT wouldn't barr the speaking clock as it was making them a lot of money - thus we had to find a way round it and with the help of this forum we found it...

Latest saga - she says she had a call from the pensions office yesterday to say they wanted to call tomorrow. We are already having a chap calling next week about the attendance allowance. My cousin has requested that she is also contacted about any appointments as someone needs to be there when anyone calls.
She has told them that she will be in all day!... so that means that - between us - someone has to be there all day until the caller arrives - if indeed she had a call at all!!!!!

I do hope I don't lose my memory to this extent as I get older - apart from the memory loss she is very clever and devious in many ways and we see a side of her we never knew existed.

We still have a lot less to cope with than a lot of members of this forum.



Registered User
Jun 19, 2009
Mid Wales
Calls to the speaking clock/BT

My wife and I look after an 89 year old friend with Alzheimer's, enabling her to remain in her own house. Recently her phone bills are showing that she is ringing 123 to get the time, 84 calls are shown on her last bill, increasing her call charges by 800%

In May we contacted BT via India and after insisting we be transfered back to UK managed to persuade someone to look into the problem and phone us back. TIP-Always have their name and department and phone no if poss.
He phoned back with unworkable solutions such as applying tape over 1 or 2 or 3 to prevent use! Very pleasant but useless! Other calls failed to obtain any refund or lower tarrif.
We then discovered a service from BT called NETWORK CONTROL CALLING which is available to certain customers with such problems from a BT dept called THE AGE DISABILITY TEAM.

This is a free service but these are the criteria.

If applied it will only allow the user to make a total of 10 calls with 999 being one. So you choose 9 further numbers which are then fed into your local BT Exchange and the problem of these obscenely expensive calls are avoided. It may seem very few numbers but I'm sure that, like us, you will find it difficult to find more.

The form arrived with a Reply Paid envelope and was easy to complete in large type and sent off. We were not asked for our EDPA which was expected. There is a sequel to this but more later.

These are the numbers I have. Bear in mind that we initially made many calls including the Chairmans Office, these are the ones that we believe are the relevant ones with apologies for any mistakes!

Network Control Calling.........0207 356 5000
Agents Disability Team..........0131 448 5472 (08000 285 085)?

Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman...0330 440 1614 or 01925 430 049 or visit

Things really kicked off after speaking to Julie Foster in the Chairmans Office but I think we were persistant and lucky!
BT have a duty to give you the information about both the Age Disability Team and Network Control Calling and failure to do so consitutes grounds for complaint to the Ombudsman. So there you have it, get on the phone!!

SEQUEL. We are not able to take advantage of this service as we are in a small Welsh village with a prehistoric exchange that BT has refused to update as not being 'cost effective' But that is my next campaign!


Volunteer Moderator
Aug 31, 2003
My problem with the telephone is that when Bill gets a cold call from any kind of service he more often than not agrees to a house call from them. I came home recently to find a man in the kitchen who was eying it up for replacement! I've also had double glazing salesmen arrive in the evening following him booking the appointment. Bill never writes down that he's talked to them so I'm usually taken unawares. I registered with the telephone preference service ages ago but some companies seem to get through. Most of them are very understanding when I apologise and explain about the Alzheimers then send them on their way! I don't suppose there's anything else I can do to prevent the calls.