Unwanted Call Blocking
A fairly recent modern phenomenon concerns the numerous cold calls we have to put up with from companies who have so little concern for the general public and think we have nothing better to do than listening to their marketing spiel. There are also those calls asking for our opinions so that the data can be sold on to others or claiming we have been involved in an accident. And of course there are those helpful calls to let us know that our computers have been affected by a virus and Microsoft have asked them to assist us in sorting out the problem.
While the Telephone Protection Service is supposed to help in some of these instanced, not all companies have signed up to this support this service while many of the companies making these cold calls are in countries outside the sphere of TPS. As a result ordinary customers, like you and I, have to put up with this invasion of our homes. BT has come up with a possible solution with the launch of products that support the Call Guardian service powered by trueCall blocking technology.
Recently I have been checking out this BT service offering a more in-your-face approach to unwanted calls. I was sent the BT8500 Advanced Call Blocker Twin product. As the Twin part of the product’s title indicates, this is a two-handset product. You can set up these DECT handsets in different rooms with one being mounted on a base incorporating the answer-phone facilities capable of storing 60 minutes of messaging and the other on a small charging station. You also get two mains power adapters, two packs of 2 AAA 750mAh rechargeable batteries and a telephone line cord. A Quick Set-up and User Guide document is provided.
Setting up this kit is straightforward although you do need to charge each handset for 24 hours prior to using them. A wizard will lead you through the basics as you set the time, date and whether you have Caller Display or not. This last option is a requirement in order to use all the features available from the BT Call Guardian. You can record an answer-phone message to replace the standard offering and create a list of contacts up to a maximum of 200 entries.
Incoming calls are meant to be intercepted by Call Guardian using one of its four modes of operation. Depending upon the set mode, the Call Guardian will ask the caller to announce themselves. This information will be recorded and then passed on to you to make the decision whether to accept, reject or pass the call over to the answer-phone by pressing the appropriate button. The Call Guardian can differentiate between different types of incoming calls such as International or those on a blocked list.
According to the User Guide, any individual mentioned in Contacts or those entered on a VIP listing will be automatically let through without the need of Call Guardian making its presence felt. There is also an option to grant uninterrupted access to future calls from the current incoming caller. However you will need to subscribe to Caller Display, available from BT at £1.75 per month, for these features to be implemented.
Without Caller Display, as I discovered, the experience can be somewhat different. All calls very intercepted, even those on both the Contact and VIP lists, with the caller being required to provide a name. This information was passed on to me so that I could decide to accept, reject or divert the call to the answer-phone. Even regular callers had to navigate this feature every time they called which some could well find annoying. Without Caller Display, one of the options of granting direct access to an incoming call was also not available. As not everybody will have Caller Display, some confusion could occur as to the differences they may encounter when using this kit. Perhaps a separate section of the User Guide could have explained these differences but presumably BT would prefer you to pay the extra £21 a year for the service than go to the trouble of producing such a section.
With Caller Display being an important requirement for this kit, you might expect this feature to be prominently featured on the product’s packaging. It is there but you have to look very closely on the base of the box. While looking for a reference to this feature you might also notice the spelling mistake, relating to sending text messages, contained on the box.
The handset with answer-phone capabilities does have some reasonable features. The keypad, with large buttons, is well set out and there is a 1.8-inch colour screen. When you have more than one handset, contact details will automatically be transferred between devices. Also, since setting up the product I have yet to get annoyed with an unwanted call although I still need to pick up the phone in order to reject the incoming call. The price for the two-unit handset, which I have been using, is currently set at £49.99. Adding Caller Display will add just over £20 to this figure.
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