ChrisRand.com Product Reviews

"Hello, we're conducting a survey..." Yeah, right.
"I'm from Windows technical support..." Of course you are.
"Payment Protection Insur..." (Hangs up)

Nuisance calls have reached epidemic levels for many people, thanks to technology making it cheaper and easier than ever to automatically dial numbers. The Telephone Preference Service is widely ignored by legitimate telephone selling companies and con men alike. If only these calls could be blocked!

There's no perfect solution yet, but phones are beginning to come on to the market which allow specific numbers, or types of number, to be blocked - or sent straight to an answering machine. At the time of writing (summer 2013) there are three "call blocking" phones on the market which I can find, and although they're all a bit fiddly to set up, users are reporting that they can slash unwanted calls.

If you don't want to buy a whole new phone, or want a simpler solution, there are also two "Call Blocker" units available, which you just plug your existing phone into. I've taken a look at these separately, here.

Best Option: BT6500

A decent modern phone which has the ability to tackle the problem in one of two ways: either only to let through calls from a list (your "VIP numbers") or to block specified numbers and let everything else through. If you take the second approach, you can block individual numbers (in which case you'll never know they've called) or you can block types of numbers: international, withheld, no caller ID or payphone (in which case calls from those numbers go to the answering machine). Letting them go silently to the answering machine means you don't have to speak to the cold callers, but most of the computer auto-diallers will leave a silent "message" before hanging up, which means you'll have non-existent messages on your answering machine. However, working out a good strategy shouldn't take too long.

The BT500 got a "Best Buy" in Which magazine's July 2013 issue, so you can buy with confidence. The manual for the BT500 is here if you want to get an idea in advance of what it might be like to set up the phone.

Check out the price here.

Second Option: Gigaset S820A

This more expensive phone from Gigaset also got a "Best Buy" in Which magazine's July 2013 issue. Loads of features, but what we're interested in here is the call blocking. The S820A allows you to set times when the phone won't ring, unless "VIP callers" want to reach you. Alternatively, or additionally, you can set the phone to reject calls with no caller ID, or numbers on a blacklist. So not quite as sophisticated as the BT in this respect, but it should cover most eventualities.

The manual for the S820A is here and details on the setup are on pages 29 and 30.

Check out the price here.

Third Option: Panasonic KX-TG6721

This phone is also at the cheaper end, but isn't nearly as versatile or easy to set up as the BT500. You can set up the handset to reject calls from numbers on a defined list, but it's not quite as easy to program. Take a look at the manual here.

Check out the price here.

Verdict

We're getting there. Nuisance calls are not going to go away, the government doesn't have the inclination or money to stop them, and it doesn't look like the phone companies want to help out either. BT charges over £50 a year just to stop all calls from people who have withheld their number. So these phones - or "Call Blocker" units - are our best hope at the moment.