back to article BT blamed for Davina McCall spamcalls

BT has rejected accusations that it wrongly engaged in sales calls by leaving subscribers voicemail messages telling them about all the great work it does for charity. The Reg was contacted by an angry reader who found a message from Davina McCall on his 1571 voicemail telling him about BT's sponsorship of the Sport Relief …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Steven Raith

    O/T but...

    Can't believe they are heading out west from Thurso, that road is a piece of crap.

    Would have been much more sensible to head down the A882 and rejoin the A9 at Latheron, and take the Berridale Braes down to Inverness.

    Back on topic, voicemail spiking, very cheeky.

    Steven R

    1. Rasczak
      IT Angle

      Route planning

      And going by the tracker they are going out to at least Bettyhill, not even going down the Strath. Looks like going down through Lairg, and then over the Struie. They are talking about the climbs in the first 24 hours being the equivalent of going up Everest, the route they are taking is seems to to trying their best to include as many as possible. Mind you it seems sensible to avoid Berriedale, though watching Fearne Cotton tackling the south side would be fun, not so much David Walliams.

      Apologies to those reading this who have now idea about the place names we are on about, suffice to say they are currently on single track, icy roads in the hills of the North West Highlands.

      Icon for the relevance of this post.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      They're following the National Cycle Route #1 as far as Inverness, I believe.

      If they think it's been tough so far, they're in for a shock. This is the Frozen Northern Tundras of Scotland, where the wind is in your face no matter which direction you're going. ;)

      Also, the road from Tongue to Lairg doesn't usually get gritted when it snows, and there's been a fair bit of that in the past few days. Bad enough along the coast, but further inland could well be a problem.

    3. Fred 3


      the a9 is lethal man.. trust me, i used to drive a BT van up and down the a9 for years...

  2. Chris Hatfield

    Haha, sneaky, it gets past the telephone pester-list thing

    ..because no two way call took place. That's genius.

    (Although I do sympathise - it must be annoying to get yet more spam.)

    I'm listening to Radio 1 right now. They are banging on about that blasted bike thing every 5 mins, it's SO annoying. Like Big Brother, i want Davina to just go away. Please, go away.

    1. Bassey


      Didn't think radio 1 could be any more annoying. Astonishing achievement.

      Anyway, this bloke should just quite his moaning. EVERYONE knows that if something is being done for charity then you just have to accept it in good grace - even if it is illegal, immoral or whatever. Otherwise our moral guardians will brand you a scab on the face of humanity for not subscribing to their view of the world.

      Get over it!

  3. SynnerCal
    Black Helicopters

    I've got a suspicious mind...

    ... but I can't help thinking that this is BT trialling 1571-spamming for future sales use. They're using their involvement in Sport Relief as a way of fending off too much criticism - after all, who's going to get all Scrooge and complain about a "charitee" message.

    Worse still, if BT get's permission to do this, then surely other companies are going to start stuffing their trash into your home/mobile voicemail, and by doing so put two fingers up to TPS. Personally I think the TPS get-out that you've got to talk to the salesdroid live - if this is the case, and not an invention of BT - is just such a piece of nonsense. Should we now be thinking about shutting down VM on mobiles?

    I kind of glad I left BT last year (due to Phorm and the increasing frequency of sales calls I was getting from them).

  4. LinkOfHyrule

    It's good to talk

    Woah! I love the it isn't classed as a actual telephone call bit. Gotta give the f*****s some cred for that one!

    1. Mister_C

      letter of law vs spirit of law

      the only credit I'd give them is that they are devious w**k**s. Credit for the devious way they are trying to overrule their customers' stated preference? Nah - they're just w**k**s.

      an unsolicited voicemail is just as unsolicited as an unsolicited call, in exactly the same way as the postman delivering bulk "to the occupier" mail is still junk mail.

      I suspect BT is hiding behind the charity shield to avoid too much flack from people who thought they had expressed a preference to NOT receive junk calls

      1. LinkOfHyrule

        You make a good point

        ...but I was being sarcastic you know - Don't actually give them any credit by all means, please! Yes, its a rouse, using the old "it's for charidy" get up to test the waters for future spamming, probably!

  5. GettinSadda

    Well, jolly good

    I was planning on donating to Sports Relief this year, but thanks to this crassness I will not

  6. ElNumbre

    BT = Four King Spammers

    I am fed up of being pestered by BT's unstoppable tide of spam which I get in the post every week or so and email practically daily. Moving to mailbox messages doesn't surprise me.

    In Summary:-

    BT Creditcard with horrendous APR

    BT Total (Crap) Broadband

    BT (Lack of) Vision

    BT Wholesale to my work account - look how good we're doing (at screwing things up?).

    Whilst i've managed to stop the BT Sales calls, I'm told that apparently the flyers inserted in the bills cannot be opted out of.

    Still, they're not quite as bad as Virgin who post a weekly flyer about how great their services are, but refuse to install a 100meter cable to enable our street from the feed on the main road.

    1. asiaseen

      Why not

      stick each flyer in a separate envelope - without a stamp - and post it back to the boss of BT or Dear Richard as appropriate

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up


        Attach each pre-paid business envelope to a brick (or box filled with rubbsih) and send it back.

        My favourite - look up the details of the sales boss (with e-mail if you can get it) and complete the form using that information - selecting 'YES' to every bit of marketing crap going and 'please share my details with everybody'.

        1. Robin Weston


          personally, I prefer to send my losing lottery tickets away in the reply paid envelopes on the premise that it's going to cost time in the post room - after all the poorly paid staff are bound to want to check the tickets... I would in that situation.

  7. jsp

    sales != marketing

    When I complained about getting sales calls, I was told that "marketing" calls are exempt from TPS. So they can ring you up with a "survey" such as "Do you buy your insurance from X?", "Are you aware of the excellent service and products from X?" and so on. I don't know why marketing morons should be exempt in the first place (if I don't want idiots ringing me, I don't want _any_ idiots ringing me) and I don't why they are allowed to get away with making sales calls under false pretences. Bah!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    How unusual for BT

    They do it all the time. They've been pestering me with sales calls, even with me being registered with TPS. It required 2 months of profound swearing on each sales drone for them to notice that I don't need their crap. Line is for internet access only and I have free calls to most of europe, don't need their "special offers".

    Even better, when I subscribed, they messed up my name. It's the only company that got it misspelled in such a specific way. Few months later I started getting spam snailmail with my name misspelled in the same way as per BT! Those bastards sold my details to other companies. I always read contracts and actively opt-out from any possible marketing crap so I know I have not allowed this.

    Somehow I'm not surprised by this.

    1. Andy ORourke

      You have to read the opt out VERY carefully!

      A lot of them are ticked by default making you think to yourself "I'll untick that for a start" but then you look and it says "Untick this box if you do want to receive offers from carefully selected (i.e. anyone who will pay us) 3rd party companies

      Then there are the other ones which stretch the english language to breaking point:

      "Tick this box if you wouldn't like us to not give your details to selected 3rd parties"

      Devious bastards the lot of em'

    2. Mark Boothroyd Silver badge

      Title here

      It would be nice if you could have a land line for broadband access only, no phones calls possible.

      Technically this is possible, plus if the exchange supports it, the bandwidth used by voice calls can be reallocated for use by DSL, increasing you DSL bandwidth and so your speeds :-)

      1. Russell Howe

        No title here

        I'm sure they could, but it would of course have to be at "business" rates :)

      2. Chris007

        How... you get the b/w re-allocated to data?

  9. john loader

    Recorded calls - an offence has been committed

    As well as using TPS who will argue about whether it really is a marketing callit is an offence to make recorded calls to people who have not agreed to receive them. Formal complaints can be made to the Information Commissioner's Office.You would have thought BT would know the law affecting its own business

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Who says they don't know the law?

      It's far more likely IMO - *cough*Phorm*cough* - that they simply choose to ignore it and misinform people when challenged in the hope that they will simply give up and go away.

  10. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    This would be the same BT

    That has been sending me monthly 'Come back to BT' mailouts for the last two years, as well as quarterly emails with my 'bill' for £0.00?

    Really, IMHO, the best thing to do is to leave BT for another carrier, preferably one that carries out LLU, and to encourage others to do the same, so that this unwieldy, morally dubious and suspiciously politically connected organisation can be allowed to die.

    No doubt, however, if this were ever to be the case then a 'bailout' of the sort given to our glorious banking brethren woudl be winging its way towards BT...

    1. The BigYin


      BT continue to harass me and I am beginning to wonder what legal routes I have open to get them to just LEAVE ME ALONE!

  11. Jimmy Floyd

    Clever, but wrong

    If a Voicemail isn't a call, then it's a message - and I'm sure that's covered by something else. Not necessarily the TPS but I forget exactly what. Anyone?


      DPA Section 11.

      An individual is entitled at any time by notice in writing to a data controller to require the data controller at the end of such period as is reasonable in the circumstances to cease, or not to begin, processing for the purposes of direct marketing personal data in respect of which he is the data subject....

      with the all encompassing caveat that ...

      “direct marketing” means the communication (by whatever means) of any advertising or marketing material which is directed to particular individuals.

      Or in other words, if you've sent BT a DPA section 11 notice and they do this to you they are breaking the law. Yet again.

      If you want to send BT (or indeed any other UK telco) an ICO recommended DPA section 11 notice, use this wizard to generate a letter. Print, post, send...

      If you still receive unwanted marketing voicemail spam, complain to the ICO and (eventually) it will stop.

  12. tfewster Silver badge

    Not regarded as "unsolicited"

    I believe that if you have an existing relationship with a company (e.g. a BT subscriber, a Toyota owner) that overrides the TPS, which is for purely unsolicited calls.

    Of course you would want to know about Toyota recalls (customer service/care), but not necessarily about the latest models/offers (sales/marketing). Drawing the line would be very difficult in legislation ("Your old Toyota is fuel inefficient, more liable to breakdowns & costly to repair - LocalToyotaDealer value your custom and believe you would be better off with a newer model")

    On the other hand, if they spam me using the details I gave _just_ to book my car in for a service, I'll tell them in no uncertain terms to remove me from their marketing database.

  13. The Metal Cod

    A Shining Example Of Ethics

    This is more evidence that "The Way We Work" proclaimed on BT's website is nothing more than complete, unadulterated b******s. IF BT aren't brought to book over this then BT subscibers can look forward to advertising messages left on their voicemail.

    Yet more obsession with "monetizing intelligence". They haven't learned from the Phorm case and clearly have no respect for the spirit of the TPS. I opt out of it precisely because I don't want to hear any advertising crap!

    Yet again I refer readers to the Bill Hicks routine about sucking something belonging to Satan.

    BT totally lack the ethics and standards they claim to have.

  14. Wize

    I'm not with BT but...

    ...if I was I'd be cancelling my 1571 voicemail and getting a normal answerphone.

  15. Lionel Baden

    i dont get it ?!

    i have bt phone, broadband + bt vision

    I dont get any marketing calls from anybody i dont get any emails from BT dont get any calls about upgrades.

    They havnt bothered me once, although im not on any special "do not disturb" list.

    the worst i get is every quarter they send me a pamflet with upgrades to the different vision packages, which they need to do anyway cause the service gets changed subtly.

    oh well sux to be you i guess :D

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      I dont get any marketing calls from anybody

      "I dont get any marketing calls from anybody"

      That'll be yer postcode, then.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I suspect ...

      I suspect your parents field the marketing calls.

  16. Mystic Megabyte

    Me too :(

    I'm with TPS but get a monthly call from BT's Belfast call centre trying to sign me up for broadband, I tell 'em to f-off!

    BT also seem to have found my email address, I received my first one the other day for Sport relief whatever that is.

    Dear BT, please go away, I think you are a bunch of crooks and I do tell all my friends that. (Remember Phorm?)

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Davina McCall oh ffs

    To spam 1571 is one thing but to use Davina McCall is just really taking the piss arrrgghh! insult to injury!. So BT give 1p for every call made BUT make loads more then they are giving away so this is a sales call to generate money simple, never mind that they are giving "some" of it away it was done to raise money for BOTH causes (BT's mostly) it's funny how they always come up with the excuses like oh that don't count, or Its a value added service & my favourite, its ler ler legal "honest gov we took advice" it's about time BT stopped treating the customers, regulators & law with contempt & got a big slap right where it hurts (the wallet)

    Davina McCall - Sleeze - Phorm - BT << what;s the link? BIG BROTHER.

    Mines the one with the tin foil hat in the pocket & the steel ear muffs for when I have to dial 1571

  18. Nuke

    It's even Worse than that

    I might be wrong, but understand that under the Telephone Preference rules anyone can phone you with a sales pitch if you already have a business connection with them. So BT can phone their own customers with impunity. They don't even need the "one-way-conversation" excuse.

    Btw, who TF is Davina McCall? Is she what's called a call girl?

    1. The Jon

      Davina McCall

      >> BTW, who TF is Davina McCall?

      She's like marmite. Personally, I would - but my mate Al would rather poke his eyes out with spoons.

      I hope that clears it up for you.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This sort of nonsense goes a lot deeper than simply stretching the rules. BT has never really shed its hard-core public-service attitudes. Which of course traditionally rarely had anything to do with public service, and everything to do with a fundamental inability to understand why "these people" (i.e. the public) simply will not do as they are told ! They're not alone - this problem stretches right across govt and local govt departments, as well as other de-nationalised concerns.

    You can take a company out of the public sector - it can be a lot harder to take public sector attitudes out of a company. BT aren't the only organisation who have yet to achieve it.

  20. handle

    I too am spammed by BT.

    Cold calls where they insist it's not a "sales call" then go on try and sell you something. And when I thought I'd escaped their clutches by moving my line rental to Primus, they started sending me stuff about BT Broadband in the post. It may be the most popular broadband offering but that's for the same reason that Windows is the most popular operating system: general ignorance.

  21. Winkypop Silver badge

    Not a 'call'

    Then how was it made, by a human voice or by recorded synthetic voice?


  22. GeoffShoulders

    Oh dear

    TPS won't stop BT calls, or calls from any company you have an account with, unless you specifically ask that company not to.

    But anyway, one voicemail from BT upsets you this much? Maybe time to get out a little more?

  23. Phil A
    Thumb Down

    ICO have already said this is wrong.

    To me this sounds exactly the same as what the Labour party did with Vera Duckworth and they got slapped by the ICO. They might argue that it was left as a voicemail rather than relying on the recipient picking up the phone but a recording is still a one way communication (apart from me shouting down the phone at the recording to f**k right off)

    Phil A

  24. Tony S


    Note that the TPS is a voluntary code of conduct. It doesn't apply to people operating outside of the UK or if the company making the calls doesn't subscribe to it.

    Even if the company does subscribe and do break the t & cs, nothing will happen apart from a letter telling them not to be so naughty in future.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Indian Call Centers

      Yeah that'll be right with all the bombay call centres they can be classed as over seas now days.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    said before...

    vote with your feet!!

    I left BT 3 years ago (for the last time as by then LLU had happened).

    In my current address Virgin wanted to supply me but refused to answer a simple question about throttling at peak times - "do you do it?". They would only reply that they have the fastest average broadband speeds. I now get regular "aren't we great, join us for fibre" snail mail spam from Virgin, i have called them and told them i will not until they answer the question. They still spam me, but its fruitless for them.

    As a result of being treated like a number by these people (BT and Virgin), i now have only PAYG mobile broadband... seems to me that although i have more basic lack of capacity issues with 3, i have no other tie, no spam trying to "up-sell" me and most important I can't get the three strikes from Mandy as a new sim for a few quid will soon move me onto a working connection again!

    If you are being treated badly by BT then you have only yourself to blame, over and over they show their lack of customer care, yet a few words from some celebrities and people go running back to them!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yes they do throttle - it's on their web site stating the times, limits, and throttling ammount, etc. The only package that isn't throttled is the fastest/most expensive one (which was the 50G package last time I looked). Personally I'm more interested in whether somebody FILTERS - than throttles.

  26. Usko Kyykka

    The marketer's mind ...

    ... or the theory behind this sort of thing is an utter mystery to me: why annoy people you'd like to see to part with their money to your advantage with SPAM. Also, why does BT demonstrate to their existing customers that they are willing to abuse the trust (if any) placed in them for a dubious advantage. Both are probably smarter things to do than throwing away the pin while keeping the grenade, but not by a very wide margin.

  27. Andy Livingstone

    BT? Ethics?

    That's near Thussex, isn't it?

    And of course that was not a call. Just as their "correspondence cetre" is incapable of responding to letters. And their Customer Care staff could not care less.

    Everything, as in NewSpeak , is exactly what BT deems it to be.

  28. samuel duckfield

    ICO is useless anyway

    We've been receiving ghost calls for months - the ones that simply leave beeeep--beeeep--beeeep--beeeep messages on your answer phone, not fax tones, just an automated system waiting to complete the call. We've complained to the ICO about it and were told as the company didn't actually place the call, make a sales pitch, or even leave their name, they are exempt - as previous correspondents have noted, we've also been on the TPS register for over 5 years...

    We've traced the caller to a BT call centre acting on behalf of a legal aid company, but still no joy from BT or the ICO - 'its outside the regs you see'

    More holes in those regs than in a piece of swiss cheese :(

  29. Anonymous John


    I only recognised three of the names. And that's probably three too many.

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Lost in Showbusiness

      Let's see...

      Not funny, terminally unfunny, pointless little carbon sink, buttock-clenchingly unfunny, Irish and yet still unfunny, 'chocolate or cherry?' 'Shotgun please', not that funny actually.

      Think of them as a bunch of overpaid Butlins entertainers on wheels.

      Is it wrong to wonder if they'll hit a big truck coming the other way?

  30. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I thought TPS for land and mobile services only covered...

    Unsolicited marketing and sales calls from parties that you have had no previous relationship with.

    This is why I still get all sorts of telephone marketing and sales crap from Barclaycard (and I do mean TONS of it). I have used the contact preferences section on their website and have carefully unticked ALL potential options that could lead to me receiving this shit... but to no avail.

    The best of all though had to be Citibank who tried to sell me a credit card that I already had - the Indian call centre wallah was too stupid to check beforehand, and had neither the competence in English to understand my responses, or deviate from his script.

    I had many minutes of fun taking the piss out of him.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Silly BT.

    Silly, silly, silly.

    But then again I believe that it shows what little respect BT has for its customers.

    I wonder if BT still views customers as something derogatory rather than something to be respected?

  32. Richard Porter

    Oh That's what it was!

    I did get a spam message on my voicemail the other day, but it was so obviously not a genuine message that I pressed 3 straight away. I had no idea what it was about.

    It's like when you get one of those prerecorded calls that begin with an American female saying "Congra...". I've put the handset down next to the radio before she gets to the end of the word.

  33. Neoc

    Naked ADSL

    So I take it there's no such thing as "Naked ADSL" in the UK? Where you get ADSL on a rented POTS line but with *no* telephone service?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT will try anything

    I left BT 2 years ago and specifically called them to tell them to remove me from marketing lists, specifying the different form of communication, lest there be any doubt what 'all' meant. They immediately started bombarding our address with remarkably accurate 'to the occupier' mails, which naturally went binward without a second glance.

    Fresh from their department of 'interpret the marketing regs till they bleed' comes their latest wheeze; a mailing addressed to me, but just with a general building address, rather than specific flat number, and lacking my middle initial - both of which appeared on the bills and marketing in the past. Pathetic. I suppose they would claim error/another mr xyz etc, etc, etc. Their site claims they will not contact you if you are on MPS. The flat is, but the building with my name clearly isn't, and I guess thats what they think of as a 'legitimate' workaround.

    I'm surprised they don't send an 'engineer' round on the pretext of checking the physical line, then try and flog me something - after all, thats what the gas and electricity weasels have done for years.

    If there's a hell, its run by marketing types on a busmans holiday.

  35. Jacqui

    BT spam

    My home number still has a business DSL attached (work pays for it) and I get calls from BT roughly every three days asking if I would be interested in moving from Virgin to a BT DSL service.

    The BT business DSL has not worked for over a year and I keep asking the boss to cancel it.

    I plan to move the DSL service from BT to a non business service such as BE or a business

    sevrice such as zen but BT will not give out a MAC because the DSL is not in my name :-(

  36. Gav

    Because poor people are just not telegenic

    I'm still unclear how "celebs" pedalling around the country manages to help those in need?

    It seems to amount to the fact that we need someone we've seen on telly to do something difficult, but essentially totally pointless, before we can be bothered to give aid to someone in desperate and mortal need.

    Perhaps this is why I find these television charitiy-thons such an utterly depressing reflection of human nature.

  37. Zap
    Thumb Down

    BT stunts like this just create bad will.

    I complained about this to BT because not only was I on TPS but I was registered with BT to receive NO CALLS WHATSOEVER. The TPS need to sort this because so many organisations are using charity as a way of marketing. As for BT well I moved by business lines away from them because they have generated bad will by delivering poor service and removed the ability for me to complain and escalate the problem when the call centre abroad can't deal with my issue.

    Don't they get it, they are just creating bad will and as for the charity, don't expect any contributions EVER your name is mud along with BT.

    Talk Talk abuse the TPS system when you use their Broadband lien check facility, again it just stops me referring them (I referred 43 customers last year).

    The problem is that the toothless OFCOM does nothing and then they think they can all do it.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021