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Old-fashioned fixed-line telecoms providers are looking to offer ever snazzier services to their customers as they seek to compete with the ubiquity and fast moving technology of the mobile phone.

You can get callback so that if the person you’re calling is engaged, your home phone rings as soon as they hang up.

There is also caller ID which, provided you have a fancy enough handset or a special device attached to your fixed-line phone, you can see who’s calling you before you pick up.

Both are very useful services. But if you are paying for caller ID from BT, you are probably wasting your money.

Many BT customers are paying £5.25 a quarter for its caller ID service. But, under BT’s new Privacy programme, which is being flagged in a high profile TV advertising campaign with Jeremy Clarkson, caller ID is completely free.

Yet, despite the widespread marketing of this new scheme, BT is still charging those users who signed up to caller ID early on the full fee. It also has no plans to automatically migrate these users onto its free service.

There is no charge whatsoever for BT Privacy and, in addition to caller ID, you can also get signed up (if you choose to) to the free Telephone Preference Service, which helps block unwanted sales calls.

BT responds that its privacy service has been promoted heavily and says that any customer who informs them that they want to move off the fee paying caller ID to the new free service, will be switched, thereby shaving £5.25 off their quarterly bill.

The telecoms operator said 1.6m customers had so far registered for the new service.

This is fair enough. It’s just a great pity that only those customers who pay close attention to TV ad breaks and who study their phone bills closely will make savings.

Those customers who loyally pay their phone bill each quarter, trusting that they won’t be overcharged, are the ones who end up losing out.

BT customers can register for BT Privacy online (www.bt.com/btprivacy) or by contacting BT direct on 0800 916 5544 (24 hours a day).

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