Switching your telecoms provider is
painless and well regulated. The
process is officially termed "Carrier
The Carrier Pre Selection Consumer
(formerly Oftel) has been reproduced
below and is 'Crown copyright'
you want to do next?
Carrier Pre Selection?
The UK has a very competitive market
You may already have a choice of who
supplies a phone line to your home.
If you have a BT line, you can also
make calls using one of the many other
phone companies. You can do this by
dialling a short code (or
sometimes a freephone number)
before you dial the number you
having an adaptor plugged in
between the socket and your phone.
The adaptor means you don’t have
to dial a different number.
If you have a residential or business
BT line you are now able to use other
providers more easily. You will not
have to dial any extra numbers or use
an adaptor. This is called ‘Carrier
This leaflet explains the changes and
what CPS means for you if you have a
BT line. We have produced it together
with consumer groups and
What if BT
doesn’t provide my phone
Kingston Communications is currently
the only other company that has to let
its competitors provide CPS (and only
to its customers in the Hull area -
therefore please note that any
reference to BT in this document can
also apply to Kingston in the Hull
area). Other companies, such as cable
TV companies and mobile-phone
companies, can choose whether to offer
you CPS, although call types and
combinations of calls may be
different. If you are thinking of
switching from BT, you may want to
check whether your new supplier offers
CPS, and in what form.
I benefit from CPS?
CPS means you can choose services from
different phone companies using your
existing BT line. As a result, you may
pay less for your phone calls. Even if
you have a BT and are already using
services from other companies, CPS may
be a more convenient way of doing
this. CPS should also make the market
for telecoms services more
competitive, which should help to cut
of call can I make using
There are four options for the types
of call you can make using CPS
(although some companies might not
offer all four options). The four
international and national calls;
‘International calls’ means calls to
the Republic of Ireland and overseas.
‘National’ calls means calls to UK
national numbers: this does not
include calls to mobile numbers, local
calls or calls to specially-tariffed
numbers such as national rate 0870
The ‘all calls’ option includes:
calls to mobile phones;
specially tariffed calls (for
example, freephone, local rate,
national rate and premium rate);
personal numbers; and
You can choose to have one provider
for national calls and another for
international calls. You can also
choose to have the same provider for
However, you cannot split the ‘all
calls’ option. If you choose the ‘all
calls’ option, you will only be able
to use it with one provider. For
example, you will not be able to use
one provider for calls to mobile
phones and another for national calls.
Certain types of call are not included
within CPS, no matter which option you
choose. These are calls to emergency
numbers, operator assistance,
directory enquiries and number ranges
used for flat-rate Internet access –
those starting with 0844 04 or 0808
99. However, you will still have
access to these services as you do now
- they will appear on your BT bill
rather than your CPS provider's bill.
Do I have
to make every call using my CPS
No, you will be able to use any other
provider with whom you have arranged
services (including BT) by dialling
extra digits before the phone number
you want to call. (This is called an
'over-ride' or 'indirect access'
code.) For example, you may want to
use a CPS provider for most
international calls but use another
provider just for calls to a
need any new phone lines or
BT will still own, run and send you
bills for your phone line. Your phone
number will not change. However, you
will get a separate bill for call
charges from each different call
provider that you use.
If you have more than one phone number
and line, you can choose different CPS
options for each line. However, all
extensions on the same line must have
the same CPS option.
If I have
CPS, how will the other services that
I receive from my current provider
How existing services such as call
barring, call diversion and discount
schemes are affected depends on what
the different companies offer. You may
lose some services but gain others.
For more information, check any
leaflets or contracts, or talk to the
companies concerned before you sign
You should be aware that if you want
to have call barring, you will need to
order it from each provider that you
use. This is because providers cannot
bar calls on other companies'
networks. For example, if you have a
BT line with call barring in place for
calls to premium-rate numbers, and you
use another provider with the ‘all
calls’ option, the call barring will
only work on calls to premium-rate
numbers you make using BT. If you
called a premium-rate number using
your other provider, (as would
ordinarily be the case if you had
selected the ‘all calls’ option) the
BT call barring would not work. So you
would need to arrange call barring to
premium-rate numbers with your other
On the other hand, if you already use
CPS but want to use one of these
schemes instead, you will have to
cancel the CPS service.
Also, if you want to change other
services you receive (for example by
adding new lines), you will need to
find out how the CPS service will be
happens if I have a burglar or
personal alarm that uses the
If you are considering using CPS on a
line intended for a burglar or other
type of alarm service, it is strongly
recommended that you check with your
chosen CPS provider that they will
carry these types of calls in the
event of an emergency. (You should
note that CPS will make no difference
to the existing 999 emergency services
Do I have to make a choice?
It's up to you. If you do nothing,
your current service (including any
‘indirect access’ services) will not
How will I get CPS?
To receive CPS you will need to get in
touch with a CPS provider. You may
need to return a written contract,
alternatively you might be able to
enter into a contract on the Internet
or over the telephone.
The CPS options available to you for
each phone number are:
CPS for all international calls;
CPS for all national calls;
CPS for all international and for
all national calls calls; or
CPS for ‘all calls’.
You will be able to choose the same or
different companies for national and
international calls. You cannot use
the ‘all calls’ option with the other
What about hard selling?
Telephone and door-to-door sales
people, who may be working on
commission, can be very persuasive.
You should think very carefully before
either signing something on the spot
or agreeing to take a service over the
Before CPS can be set up on your
telephone line you will have a 14-day
cooling off period. During this
cooling-off period you should receive
2 letters; one from your existing
telephone service provider and one
from your new service provider. Both
these letters will explain your
options to you and will include
contact details if you need to query
the changes. If you want to cancel the
CPS service you will be able to do so
by contacting either your new or
existing service provider.
happens if I suddenly get a bill for
telephone calls from a company I have
never heard of?
First of all you should make sure that
no one else in your house hold has
signed up for the service.
You should also remember that you can
over-ride a CPS service at any point
by dialling an over-ride code. You
should then follow the guidance given
below on changing your provider or
How can I
change my provider or service
If you then want to change your
provider, contact the company of your
choice. They will do this in the same
way CPS was set up in the first place.
This will also apply if you decide to
change your service back to BT. If you
are changing your provider, your
current provider will be told of the
If you want to change your call
options, your CPS provider will also
do this in the same way CPS was set up
in the first place. If you choose an
option that cannot be used with your
existing service, your new request
will cancel the old arrangements. This
means in particular that if you have
‘all calls’ CPS and decide to change
national or international calls to
another provider, the other call types
in the ‘all calls’ package will go
back to being provided by BT.
What if I
change my mind before the CPS service
If you change your mind after you have
entered into the contract, you will
still have a 14- day ‘cooling-off’
period to change your mind. To prevent
them setting up the CPS service, you
can contact either BT or the CPS
provider you have chosen. If you
decide to choose a different provider
while you are waiting for your first
choice to set up CPS, you must cancel
the first request within 14 days.
This cooling-off period applies to
both the new CPS service and any later
it mean when I sign the
And, can I
end a contract after I have signed
The contract is legally binding. Some
contracts may be for a minimum period.
Remember that a contract need not be
in writing - however, in all cases you
should be offered the terms and
conditions in writing. The length of
the contract and your rights to end it
may differ from company to company.
Always check the terms and conditions
of the contract carefully and be sure
you know what you are signing up for.
If necessary, speak to the company
before signing. Keep a record of
anything you sign and a note of your
rights to end the contract.
Remember, though, you will still be
able to make calls through other
companies (including BT) that you have
agreements with. You will just need to
dial extra digits before you dial the
What will it cost?
Before you agree to the CPS service,
the companies must tell you how much
they charge, how often they will send
you bills and how you can pay. They
will give you free itemised bills
(unless you tell them not to). If you
ask them, they should also explain
what will happen if you do not pay
your bills and what help they can give
you if you have difficulties paying
the provider ends the CPS
If your CPS provider decides to stop
the service, it should still keep to
its contract with you, for example by
giving you notice of when they will
end the service. Your contract should
tell you when the provider could end
If your CPS provider goes out of
business, you will still be able to
make calls using an over-ride code
until you choose another provider. If
your provider is taken over or merges
with another company, your CPS service
will probably not change.
What if I
change my address?
If you change your address and you
want to keep CPS, you will need to
contact your CPS call provider and
follow the same process that you used
to set up the service originally.
What if I
change my address and phone
As with a change of address, you will
need to contact your CPS call provider
and follow the same process that you
used to set up the service originally.
What if I
only change my phone
If you are just changing your phone
number, but not your address or CPS
options, you can keep the CPS service
without going through the original
setting-up process again. You will
need to contact your CPS provider to
ask them to move the CPS service to
your new number.
What if I have a problem?
If you have problems making a call,
contact the company that provides that
call type. They should be able to
solve the problem. Before the problem
is solved, you can use any other
provider with whom you have an
arrangement. You will just need to
dial a short code before the phone
If you have a complaint, it is best to
contact your provider. If you are not
happy with the response, you can
contact us (if you are in England,
Scotland or Wales) or, if you are in
Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland
Advisory Committee on
How can I
When deciding whether to change
providers, it makes sense to compare
the different prices and services. The
following are some questions you might
want to think about.
How much will different call types
Will there be discounts, or
different prices for different
times and days of the week?
How will they work out call
charges, for example, each second,
each minute or each part-minute?
How often will I get bills or
How can I pay?
Will there be any connection or
What sort of contract is it and,
if it is fixed-term, how long will
What arrangements and penalties
are there for ending the contract?
What if I have trouble paying my
What other phone services or
benefits will I gain or lose by
When and how can I contact your
customer services department?
Crown copyright 2002
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