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BT's 'Free' Answer 1571 Service

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  • Easier to get a 'real' answer machine
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      03.07.2009 21:37

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      You get nothing for nothing in this world

      Warning-BT's "free "Answer 1571 service is only free if you are using BT to make your calls .

      I used to get my line rental only from BT, but that afforded me the option, which I took up, to have the free 1571 service.

      It is convenient to have this service and I used it from it's introduction until earlier this year. I had been working away from home and as long as my BT invoices looked sensible, I didn't question my direct debit. But when I got back and could investigate further, I discovered that because I wasn't making my calls thru BT I was being charged almost £3 a quarter for the FREE 1571 facility.

      I canceled by BT phone line and for the money I have saved on line rental and my "Free" ansaphone service- I bought a telephone with an integral answering machine.

      I have always liked BT - but they still behave like they are a monoploy - someone needs to remind them they aren't -have a look at today's share price - all I will say to you is a few years ago they were £10+ each.

      Maybe they need to listen to the messages the public are giving them.

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      09.09.2007 18:45
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      use a ordinary call recorder

      1571 service = rubbish.

      10 call limit is feeble
      Can't access the messages remotely
      Calls aren't forwardable as MP3 recordings to an email address


      Traditional ansaphone 100 times better.

      Cheeky when ask for you if you want to use BT for callback at a hugely premium rate.

      I wish I could cancel BT forever, but I have to use them for my Broadband.

      BT = Con trick for this service. 1471 equally rubbish service. The braindead run BT.

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        07.06.2007 14:52

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        Key problem that BT do not point out

        A problem with the 1571 Text Alerts system that BT's website fails to point out at this date (7/6/07) is that if you have retained your mobile phone number and transfered it from another provider to either Virgin or T-mobile, the text alert sytem will not work.

        In other words, you may have messages on your landline, but you will not be texted to inform you of the fact.

        BT confirmed this to me today. So if you have ported your number to Virgin or T-mobile, the text alert system is virtually useless. The only way to resolve the problem is to either cancel your mobile contract (expensive!) or change your mobile number (hassle!).

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        01.11.2006 22:22
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        frustrating for callers !!!

        i dread dialing someone and getting bt 1571.
        i get charged even though the recipient hasn't answered.
        if i leave a message, will they know i have? - as they have to finish their call and then pick up the phone again to check the dial tone, which will tell them they have a message.
        it's a very clever way of bt making money out of callers for what should be a free engaged tone.

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          15.07.2006 22:01
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          Free service makes answering machines pointless

          You do not get anything in life for free, that as a saying is fairly accurate. But you can get things free provided you can understand why the company is offering it in the first place. Remember companies want to make money, be it the company giving free virus protection or a company paying you to click on adverts. In this respect BT are no different. All we need to do is understand is the reasons behind the service/product then we can feel safe in the knowledge of what is on offer and more importantly why.

          So I will explain what 1571 is, then at the end of this review I will add what BT get out of it.

          A few years ago BT introduced a service called 1571, if memory serves me right the cost was about £4.99 a month. For this you got what amounts to an answering machine. If someone called while you were out after a few rings the answering machine cut in and allowed the caller to leave a message, much in the same way as a traditional answering machine does.

          But the 1571 had and indeed still have one advantage over an ordinary answering machine. If someone phoned you and you were already on the phone, then 1571 would tell the caller you were on the phone and allow them to leave you a message.
          Remember this was back in the days where dial up internet was the connection of choice, therefore a lot of phones were engaged for hours at a time. So you would still have the chance to leave or receive a message.

          Most answering machines have little lights and some even have bleeps to let you know when a message has been left for you. Unfortunately 1571 cannot do this. So the people of BT decided that you needed to know you have a new message rather than to dial 1571 every now and then.

          The answer they use is simplicity in itself.
          When you pick up the phone you normally get a steady dialling tone (a soft electronic purr), if you have been left a message you get a two tone (high and low pitch) noise, then all you have to do is dial 1571 to access your messages.
          These messages can be stored for about 21 days, of course you can at any time delete unwanted messages before this, at times this can be necessary as the 1571 will only store up to 10 messages at a time.

          Even better was the news from BT that they were no longer going to charge for this service and offer it free to its customers.

          A couple of niggles about this service.

          Firstly if you want to listen to a previously recorded message you have to work your way through your previous messages (date and time order) to access the message that you want.

          Secondly as it only stores 10 messages it is pretty limited if you’re going to be away from your phone for a few days and normally have a high volume of calls.

          So what does BT get out of offering us this free service?

          Two things, firstly they get happy customers who are getting a free service. They also get happy shareholders, the reason for this is simply they get an increase in calls. Let me explain, if you receive a call and a message is left for you on 1571, you access the message and the chances are it will be someone who will leave you a number so you can give them a call. Remember the original call cost money and your return call is an additional call, therefore BT actually generates extra income by offering this free service.

          So BT are not offering something for nothing in the true sense of the word, even so it is a service that overall I am more than happy with, even if I can see room for improvement.

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            12.01.2004 23:47
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            BT Answer 1571 is a free alternative to buying an answer machine for your home. Firstly, I must add, you have to have a BT line, so NTL users and alike - sorry this is not for you!! Basically the service is done entirely through your phone line and so you don't need to find a space for an answer machine near your phone. To actually get the service you have to ring 1571 and follow the simple instructions to install. It usually takes a couple of days to actually be installed into your system. Once it's installed any call that isn't answered or is engaged will be diverted to your own inbox and a voicemail can be left. Each message can be up to two minutes long and ten messages can be stored at anyone time. Although this isn't a great deal you can actually save messages once you have listened to them and when your store is nearly full you do get a warning. Messages are stored for twenty days. Leaving a message is just as simple for the caller. They are given a short welcome and asked to leave a message after the tone and when done so they simply have to hang up, no pressing any buttons. The only flaw here is that the caller is charged, this happens at the point of connection, and is charged at the usual rate. Collecting a message couldn't be simpler either. If a message has been left a different tone, easily distinguishable, greets you when you lift the handset. To gain access to the messages you have to dial 1571 and given options on listening to the messages. The date and time that the message was left is also given. Obviously this service does have it's shortcomings in that you can't leave a personalised message and that you have to pick up your hand set to find out a message has been left but remember it is free. However, there is now an upgrade available. That upgrade is BT Call Minder which offers an enhanced version of the original 1571 free service but costs £2 a month. The cost
            is simply added to your quarterly bill. When someone leaves a message the service operates the same as the original service where a different tone can be heard when you pick up the handset. Messages are also retrieved by calling 1571 is exactly the same way as before. However one benefit the new system offers is that if there is a message on the phone when you replace the handset it will call you and an automated service will tell you so. This is particular good for those of us who continually check the phone for messages! Along the lines of message retrieval, probably the best new feature is that BT now supplies you with a pin number so that you can log into your messages from anywhere. The pin is also changeable so you can personalise it to make it easier to remember. The system couldn?t be simpler and works exactly the same as if you were at home. I find this very useful for when I?m out and about and also for getting messages from those friends of mine who are still to tight to call a mobile! The standard greeting can also be personalised using the new call minder service. This is simple to do and can be done through the prompts when calling 1571. It sounds much better for someone to hear your voice rather than the dulcet tones of the usual lady ? I put her in the same mould as the guy who did ?Mind the gap? on the London Underground! The last improvement to the service is that the amount of messages that can be stored increases from 10 to 30. This is one of the reasons that I changed over as getting back from a week away I found ten messages but unable to trace if anyone else had called after the last one was received half way through the week! The messages are also stored for thirty days, ten longer than on the original service. Retrieving messages is free from your BT landline but a cost is charged to the calling phone if you dial in using your pin. To sign up for the service you need to have a BT phone
            line. If you call 0808 100 0428 you will be put through to a BT advisor who will arrange for the function to be added to your service. This usually takes no more than five days. I have always found the original service to be excellent and for free you expect the flaws that have been highlighted and enhanced for the Call Minder service. The question is then whether you really need these features and whether they justify £24 a year. Personally I feel that the personalised message and the call back when you have a message are both good options but not worth the money on there own. On the other hand the other two features do; being away quite often I like to be able to retrieve my messages from my landline whilst the 10 message maximum store on the original is not enough. For those two factors alone I feel that the cost is justified but each person would really have to look at their own situation, possibly the amount of calls they receive, who is likely to call them and how important the calls are likely to be, etc. Remember that people leaving a message are charged at the going rate. Overall I would recommend both of the services on reliability and performance. The services are an excellent alternative to buying an expensive answer machine. Whilst the functions are limited in the original, the Call Minder offers everything you would want in a basic machine at a reasonable cost.

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              11.01.2003 23:12
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              Finally, a convincing way to stop being nagged to get off the internet because somebody MIGHT be ringing. BT have come up with a very good service for there customers. In the services early stage it was not so reliable, and many customers were unsure whether it would be a success or failure! However, a year on, and the 1571 service is still running, and damn good it is too! You can carry on talking/surfing for hours without worrying that somebody is phoning and best of all Its free, so you don't have to go out and buy an answering machine which could be knocked, dropped or even stolen.. The caller pays even if he/she doesn't leave a message, which for a mobile could mean upto 10p as some networks have minimum charges per call! BT have surely come up with a hit this time! To activate this service on your phone is just call 1571! It's simple, and yes BT customers, FREE! 1571 can store upto 10 messages, all with a maximum length of 2 minutes. A start stop dial tone will be heard when there is a message on 1571, so you know when you have a new message. Another great part of the service is that you will not be able to connect back upto the internet if you have a 1571 message on that same line, and yes, this is because of the funky dialtone! Although this is a free service I have been informed that you can pay to have your own recorded message, but this is only an extra to personalise the service! Final thought is, it's free, and it works, so you might aswell get it!

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                03.12.2002 16:32
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                Whatever did I do before this amazing piece of new technology arrived into my household? Well, we had an answering machine, that’s what. However, a few months ago, the machine decided to give up the ghost, through a combination of overwork, and over-loaded phone sockets. On its way out, it left us with a series of garbled incomprehensible messages and then went to the great answering machine in the sky. By coincidence, this was around the time when BT were heavily publicising their free 1571 service, on the TV and in magazines. They even went to great expense to include little “post-it” notelets inside the women’s weeklys (not that I read them of course, you understand, purely for research purposes…) It was incredibly easy to sign up for the service, you have to wait about 24 hours for the service to “kick in” whilst the technical guys/gals at BT press the right buttons for it to work, and then Bob’s your Uncle. Basically, the phone rings for 5 rings, during which time, you can answer it in the normal manner, should you wish to. On the 5th ring, the automated service leaps into action, the person trying to ring you gets an automated message in their ear saying “please leave a message”, or something of that nature, which they either do, or don’t. If they do leave a message, when you pick your phone receiver up, instead of the usual ring tone, you can hear an interrupted ring tone instead. You then press 1571 on the handset, and just like on the mobile phone-type voice mail service, you get a computerised lady’s voice announcing “you have one new message”. You can then listen to the message, then save it or delete it. The service has the capacity to store up to 10 messages at any one time, usually more than adequate for the average home user. The best “thing” I have discovered about this service is that I am a regular internet user, espec
                ially in the evenings. I use AOL, which doesn’t cut me off, either if an incoming phone call is trying to get through, nor after two hours continuous use, unlike other service providers. I then emerge from the study after about 4 hours of use, pick up the telephone, and I am greeted by the computerised lady informing me I have about 6 new messages, which is extremely useful, but too late in the evening for me to return the calls! However, before the 1571 service, I would have no idea if anyone had been trying to get hold of me or not. Now, sorry in advance to Mr. Alexander Graham Bell, but I do find the telephone an invasion of privacy, we all know the phone always goes when you’re in the bath, shower, toilet or other such activity!! By using the 1571 service, you can continue with whatever it was you were doing and then ring the person back at your leisure. Double glazing salesmen never leave a message anyway, so that filters them out for starters. If no-one does leave a message, then of course you have the back-up of the 1471 service, where you can find out the number of the person who has tried to ring. This has happened to us on many an occasion, we have then spent the next half an hour trawling through address books to try and find the number and match it up to a person or business we know, before phoning them back, or putting it down as a complete mystery, instead of simply answering the phone in the first place! Of course, the Caller Display units could also still be used in parallel with this service, whereby the number flashes up on an LCD screen when the phone rings, much as it does on a mobile phone. These units were quite popular a few years ago, and were quite expensive at the time, I get the impression BT arte phasing these inventions out, in favour of the 1571 service. You can cancel this service at any time, should you wish to, and all information now appears on the computerised BT bills, which are even nowadays
                available on the internet. They say there is no such thing as a free lunch, but here we have a free answering machine, in my opinion, much more useful and long-lasting than a tuna bagel.

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                  20.08.2002 06:24
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                  1571 ~~~~~ I have been using this FREE service from BT for a few months now and think that the service is a very good idea... But not alot of people know that there are two services from BT using the 1571. The first is the service that the customer PAYS for. I think this service is just over £5.00 per quater. The other is FREE to customers. Customer should know that you have to state which 1571 service you want or you could end up paying for a service that you think is FREE. The difference between the services apart from having to pay for one of them is that you can put your voice on the answering message and the FREE service you can not. Well I have tried and I can not. BT ~~~ BT is a multibillion pound company and I feel that this service should have been FREE a long time ago. Also the BT charges more than cover any of their Services that they are saying are FREE. BT also charge by the min. so that will also cover any of their services that they tell their customers are FREE. Apart from that I do think that it is a good idea and it would be nice for the call waiting to be FREE also. Sorry for going on but I do feel that BT could do alot more for their customers.

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                    16.03.2002 01:08
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                    A problem that we have no doubt have had. The phone being engaged whilst on the internet its one of the drawbacks on the internet. I would love to have a new line put in but a friend told me that I would have to pay line rental on that every month. If BT were to offer a second line for a one of fee then I would be glad. However they have not well not that I am aware off. So I am taking advantage of the next best thing. The free service from BT which means that you can never miss a call. It is 1571. The benefits of this service are that you do not have to miss a call, whether you are engaged, or on another call, surfing the internet or you can not get to the phone. BT answer 1571 will take messages for you. The service is free. It is like having voicemail on your telephone. All you have to do is retrieve your messages by dialling 1571. But, unlike some voicemails on mobiles its free. How does it work? Well its simple. If you cant answer the phone and it rings seven times or if you are engaged then your call will be answered immediately. When you are free check messages by ringing 1571 and a voice prompt will guide you through. BT answer 1571 is also compatible with answering machines. First thing is first you need to activate BT answer on your telephone by dialling 1571 from your home telephone. Once you have done that then it will start taking messages. The benefits of this service are; It is available on most single residential lines Customers can store up to ten messages You do not have to miss a call The disadvantages are: Customer cannot personalise or change the BT answer greeting Some services are not compatible with BT answer You still in practice miss a call You get a bigger phone bill because you ring back to missed calls Not everybody lets the phone ring seven times. Personally for a free service from BT I think it is a good service and if you are a BT c
                    ustomer you can easily activate it on.

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                      31.01.2002 23:21
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                      Free!,but for how long. The beauty of this service is its totally free (at the moment) and is very simple to initiate. Simply press 1571 and follow the automated confirmation process. And by pressing number one when told you have completed the sign up in around two minutes. The answering service takes five working days to be set up on your phone and only works with BT numbers and landlines. You know when you have been a credited the service because you hear a strange dial tone that you were told about on the sign up but quickly forgot. Once you panic has subsided that your phone is not up the swany, you just press 1571 to hear the message that dial tone is reminding you of You have two options when the recorded message come on of deleting and saving. On the whole it seems simple and free. But once the nation has signed up BT are sure to introduce a surcharge that could net them big bucks. Im sure they will do an AOL and make it five times as difficult to sign of the free service when the probation runs out. I spent three days trying to get through to that IP provider and nearly smashed my BT phone in the process. The problems I have had so far have been Internet based where the dialtone warning you of a message doesn’t allow sensitive modems to log on to your provider. Maybe its just our phoneline and its ironically btinternet that we are using. You need to delete or save the message to get rid of that message warning and hit the button a couple of time to get a clean tone back. Maybe that unfortunate glitch will be ironed soon and I presume that people can leave messages while im online. Which was the main reason for having the 1571.Oh and the fact that it’s free.

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                        18.01.2002 18:59
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                        Oh boy, do I hate change! My beloved answerphone has been spurned and cast out by my flatmates! They never got the hang of how to play a message and tripped over the little thing every time they needed to reach the video cabinet. It's days were numbered - then erased. In an attempt to de-clutter the living room and create a state of harmonius message retrieval, my little baby was replaced with BT's free 1571 deal. At no cost to ourselves, we can now access messages that are left while we're out, on the phone or surfing the net. Well that's nice. Only trouble is - I'm still walking into the room and checking the old answer phone for that exciting 'somebody loves ya' flashing light. But the lights are all out. So now I have to remember (what's that?) to go looking for my messages. If I don't pick up the phone to make a call, I never know if there are messages to hear. The only hint that someone has left one is a blip in the dial tone - a bit too subtle for me. So, you pick up the phone to make an urgent call - hear the blip - listen to Mrs 1571 sounding altogether too chirpy for her own good - then have to choose the fate of each message by selecting 1 to repeat, 2 to save and 3 to delete. And then you've completely forgotten about that call you actually were about to make. The messages are from two days ago - requiring your immediate attention - and all of them are angry that they don't know if they got the wrong number as it wasn't my voice any more. Usually, (pre 1571), if someone's on the phone, there's an engaged tone and my friends know to call back in about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, they can now leave a message - which I may or may not get in a few days time - probably when I pick up the phone to call them - asking why they never called me to invite me to that party - only to find out that they did - three
                        days back... Worse case so far, was my brother calling from Australia for the first time since emigrating months back. Instead of finding the phone engaged, thus waiting 10 minutes to find my flatmate off the phone - and me very excited to get his call, I got a message - eventually, on 1571 from him saying: "Bloody Hell Maz, why dya hiv ta get this bloody thing on ya phone? (he's picking up the accent already) it costs me $6 every time I call England, whativer the lingth of thi call. It's just cost me $12 to try you twice. Get rid of that 1571 thing or I'm not going to bother agin!" And he didn't. Then I heard the second message from the day before...: "Hello, it's your mother - I think. Hope I've got the right number - there's some ghastly woman answering your phone. Can you get rid of her please - she's very annoying". When I called her back, the phone went dead in the middle of our conversation as the 1571 cut in - after about 5 minutes?! The message she left must be left to your imagination, to save my dooyoo reputation (pah!) So, I'm not a fan. It may cost us nothing to have, and free up a 4" by 6" space next to the sofa - but it's no friend of mine! I haven't the memory to check on the service and my family don't have the patience to leave messages any more. My view of 1571? Stick it up your AR58!

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                          18.01.2002 03:09

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                          Well, I pretty much hate all things BT and theres never usually such a thing as a free lunch with them but I must say im fairly pleased with this new service. As I spend alot of my time on the internet (usually writing on dooyoo!) I find it especially useful and it does actually do me some good, although I still have to pay a fortune for my phone bill for no reason, greed is at the black heart of BT!!! It doesn't really have alot of features but its for free, I like to change my answering machine message often, right now I have a fruity little Clint Eastwood one. It does however make you look quite cheap for having one but who wants to pay to actually have an answering machine so I dont really care. I would recommend it for anyone really unless your a sad loner who spends all their time in the house, it will be useful to almost everyone. If your wondering how to get it then all you have to do is click on the annoying ads that come on dooyoo.co.uk all the time, but they have to get their money from somewhere!

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                          18.01.2002 00:28
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                          We’ve had call waiting for a few years now, which you have to pay for, but is useful. We had the option of 1571 that you used to have to pay for as well until recently, we stuck with call waiting. That is till recently moi, the annoying teenager of the household, run a £40 phone bill just for the internet by using the wrong dial up button (we pay for unlimited access and I pressed on the pay button for two months). Dad was furious so we had to get rid of a few things that we have to help raise the money for the bill, call waiting was first off the list. Nobody told me that call waiting had gone and that we had 1571. I tried to dial the Internet the other day and realised we had a funny dial tone. It was not the normal done but instead had an occasional beep in it. I thought our phone line was broken, shock horror that means no Internet, and that means no dooyoo. I got my parents who told me that we had 1571 and that the funny beep meant that someone had left a message on our phone. When you are on the phone and someone rings, instead of the call waiting beep in our ear and being able to swap from conversation to conversation, the second caller could leave a message. When we got off the phone the ring tone would beep to inform us that someone had left a message. Good idea expect for I forgot the number. The service is free and to collect your message all you have to do is dial 1571 (not to be confused like I have done with 1471, the number you dial to see who the last person who called was). So now that I’ve had 1571 do I prefer call waiting? Well call waiting has its advantages, I knew at that moment when someone was calling. However if I was on the Internet people still got the message that I knew they were calling, and I didn’t. 1571 means that they can leave their message and I know when I come off the phone that they wanted me, or my family. Call waiting had to be paid for while
                          1571 is now free. Hmm, pay money or not. I know which I would go for. That’s all I can think of… My suggestion for everyone is to get a sticky label on your phone and put 1571 on it because when my parents went out the other day a message was left and I didn’t know the number to collect it. If there had been an emergency I wouldn’t of been able to use the phone because there would have been no ring tone. Happy message leaving Love Sara

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                            17.01.2002 21:35
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                            • "Can't screen incoming messages :o("

                            When my ex-boyfriend left and got custody of the answering machine, I never got round to replacing it. However, I was spending a lot of time on the Internet, surfing, chatting etc and soon found that people couldn?t get hold of me. I was using One-Tel at the time for international and mobile calls, and they introduced a voicemail service using the same technology as BT?s 1571. In fact I had to dial the same number to access the service. It cost £1.50 a month with One-Tel (first month was free). There were some very useful facilities, but I only really used it as an electronic answering machine. When BT started to advertise their service, which was effectively the same service but free I knew I had to sign up. I had had very good service from BT in the past and am quite a penny pincher, so therefore the chance to save £1.50 a month was too good to miss! :o) I dialled the appropriate number and listened to the various menus to place my order. At the same time I managed to email One-Tel to ask them to remove my voicemail account with them. A call came back from BT a couple of days after to say that the One-Tel voicemail was still active on the line and they couldn?t install their 1571 service until it had been removed. It took several further emails and phone calls to both One-Tel and BT to resolve the situation. Only One-Tel could remove the service and BT?s hands were tied until they did this some time afterwards. I must say that BT were very helpful through all this. My main concern was trying to ensure that there wasn?t a large gap between the removal of the One-Tel service and the provision of the BT one. Some people could contact me by mobile, but not everyone had the number and I didn?t want to miss any important calls. As it was the timing worked out really well, the BT one kicked in just as the One-Tel account ended. I?d like to think that someone at BT was keeping an eye on the situation, because I?m not normally that lucky
                            ! So after a couple of weeks to-ing and fro-ing to get the account set up, how good is it really? Well I don?t use it that often, it?s still primarily a replacement answering machine. However, it?s not really like a conventional answering machine. You don?t see a convenient red light flashing when you walk through the door ? you have to pick up the handset and listen for a disjointed ring tone. Beware if you use a modem for your Internet connection! When I first got the system I was using a conventional Internet connection through a 56k modem. If you try and dial out and you have a message waiting, your modem can?t recognise the dialtone and won?t connect. It took me ages and a couple of calls to BT when this first happened. They do actually point it out, but I?m not one for reading documentation! Since then I have ADSL which means I don?t actually use my phone line that much. Consequently, some messages can get left on the machine for a couple of days if I forget to check it! All in all it?s very convenient, although there?s not much you can do with it other than receive messages while you?re out or on another call (including Internet!). There are restrictions on certain types of lines and www.bt.com (put ?1571? in the search engine to quickly find the relevant pages) has all the information you could possibly want. I did find there were useful services available on the One-Tel facility such as being able to leave messages in other One-Tel users? mailboxes for free, wake-up calls and you can access your mailbox remotely (using an 0845 number). This costs £1.50 a month though. But I never really used any of those facilities ? the wake-up call once and I overslept through that! At the end of the day it?s really up to you what services you require ? it?s certainly worth looking at One-Tel and other companies if you want these added features, but for a quick voicemail that records your friend?s message while you?re surfing, you really can?t beat BT. <
                            br> Further information on these services: Info on 1571: www.bt.com (search 1571) Register for 1571 on: 0800 003 800 (automated service so call from the number you want it installed on) One-Tel: www.onetel.co.uk ADDITION 24/02/02 Well I have been using this service more and more over the past week or so - lord knows why I've become so popular all of a sudden! Anyway, two very important things I missed from my original opinion spring to mind... 1. Yes, the person at the other end has to pay for the call even if they don't leave a message. Just like a conventional answering machine, in fact, you know if you hang up and don't leave a message. It's not the same as an 0906 number or anything - as far as I know it's a standard call cost, but could still catch people unawares if they try and call you several times and keep getting the recording. 2. This is the most annoying feature, and is really making me think about trading in this free service for a proper answering machine... You can't screen your calls. I know this is probably really bad phone etiquette or something, but twice recently I got told off for being late for a rehearsal because I answered a last minute phone call which MAY have been an emergency from somewhere else, but turned out to be routine and lengthy calls. Given the number of different things, charities, hobbies etc I'm involved in, I love the ability to be able to call people back at my leisure when I'm prepared to talk about whatever subject. Now that's not the case for everyone. And granted 99% of the messages you get will be from people waiting for you to call them back. I personally don't mind this, but if you'd rather they footed the bill, then you probably need to reconsider whether you want a voicemail or answering machine service at all. Or just make a very clear message that you're not home at the moment, please call back later!
                            That's all I have to say on the subject for now. Just gotta go and return all those calls... :o)

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