Contacting British Telecom…

So I get an annoying telesales call from some (for once reasonably comprehensible) guy in India on behalf of our dearly beloved national telco trying, somewhat bizarrely, to offer me a Visa card. After explaining that I prefer to obtain financial services from financial institutions and to stick to purchasing telephone service from a telco I hang up and go looking for a way to tell BT to cease and desist with this nonsense.

You see although my phones are all registered with the statutory anti-telesales list, the Telephone Preference Service, BT are still allowed to call me because they have an “existing customer relationship” with me. At least until I explicitly tell them not to by invoking the snappily titled Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.

So I start by logging into my account on their web site and looking at the preferences, where there is a helpful option to control whether I “Would like to be kept up-to-date with BT special offers and innovations by email?”. Unfortunately there is no equivalent option for phone calls…

Next stop is the “Contact Us” link which leads to a long menu of reasons why I might want to contact them, none of which really apply in this case. Unfortunately there is no “none of the above” or “other” type option for miscellaneous enquiries.

Even the “Complaints” section of “Contact Us” has a carefully selected list of narrow categories in which you might wish to complain with no general way to make a complaint, or even to make a meta-complaint about an inability to complain.

Needless to say, when I do find a way to complain both barrels will be being discharged in view of the fact that they’ve managed to make complaining so hard…

UPDATE: Having re-read the PEC regulations I now believe that in fact the “existing customer relationship” clause does not apply to phone calls (it does apply to email) so BT were in fact breaching regulation 21(1)(b) with their phone call.


  1. I had an experience with Eon last year where they rang me time after time asking me if I wanted boiler maintenance. After a few calls I established that although they said they are from Eon they were actually a third-party who Eon had employed to make these calls. This is in direct breach of the PEC regs you quoted, since they cannot give my details to another company to use on their behalf without my express, written permission. I took it up with the Office of the Information Commissioner, who, after a long delay – they are too busy – confirmed that it was in breach of the rules, repremanded Eon and the calls stopped. Unless BT have offices in India (they might) they too are sending your personal data to another company in breach of the PECR (2003). See what they say.


    • I don’t believe there’s anything in the PECR stuff about transferring data to third party agents. Obviously DPA will will apply but that doesn’t prohibit transferring data, even overseas, so long as the relevant requirements are met with regard to handling it under DPA constraints.

  2. Pingback: BT: The Unstoppable Phone Spam Machine « Tom's Thoughts

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