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16 Oct 2018

TalkTalk will charge to block nuisance calls: are you better off with a call-blocking phone?

From 1 November, TalkTalk customers will have to pay £2 a month to help manage anonymous nuisance calls - take a look at your other options

TalkTalk has announced plans to charge customers £2 a month for its Anonymous Caller Reject service, which helps to cut nuisance and scam calls by automatically stopping callers from getting through when the number is hidden.

This landline privacy feature has been free since 2014, but it will now add £24 annually to customers' bills. TalkTalk is also introducing a £2 monthly fee for its Call Divert service to forward calls to another landline or mobile number.

If you're a TalkTalk customer then you should already be aware of these new charges, as they come into force from 1 November, and companies are required to give at least 30 days' notice either by email or letter.

Find out how this cost compares with other major network providers, such as BT, Sky and Virgin Media, and whether it would be more cost effective to invest in a call-blocking cordless home phone instead.

Browse our top five call-blocking home phones.

How much do other home phone providers charge for anonymous-number call blocking?

SSE is now the only major home phone network provider not to charge for the Anonymous Caller Reject feature. All othersrequire a fee, and you can compare costs below.

Network providerBTFirst UtilityPlusnetPost OfficeSkySSETalkTalkVirgin Media
Monthly fee£6.50£4.50£4£4.08£4Free£2£2.70

It's worth noting that a number of landline network providers do offer alternative call-blocking features free of charge.

For example, BT Privacy with Caller Display doesn't cost a penny, and it registers you with the Telephone Preference Service as well as showing you the number of the person who's calling.

Sky offers the Sky Talk Shield call-screening service free of charge if you're a Sky Broadband and Talk customer, and Plusnet and BT both have Call Protect, a complimentary service thatblocks nuisance calls from a pre-selected list.

TalkTalk has a number of other free features to help manage nuisance calls, such as CallSafe where numbers not on your approved or blocked lists are screened before you pick up the phone.

How a call-blocking home phone can help

One option to help avoid nuisance calls is to invest in a cordless home phone with good call-blocking features built in. There's a range of options available, depending on how much you want to spend.

Binatone Veva 1900 single - £15

The Binatone Veva 1900 is our cheapest call-blocking phone, at £15. For the same cost, you'd get less than eight months of use from TalkTalk's service, or less than three months if you're with BT.

This home phone has 10 ringtones to choose from and a decent-sized phone book, as well as a number of call-blocking features. But although it includes a dedicated call-blocking button, it doesn't quite perform in the way we thought it would. Read our Binatone Veva 1900 review to find out more.

BT Premium Phone - £65

At the other end of the scale in terms of price is the BT Premium Phone, which will set you back £65 for a single handset. So it would take several years' of use to make the cost comparable to a monthly call-blocking fee.

But this feature-rich landline phone can link with your mobile phone via Bluetooth to sync your contact lists, it can store a whopping 3,000 numbers, and you can block up to 1,000 specific numbers. It alsoasks any caller not on your contact list to state their name, allowing you to decide whether or not to accept the call. Check out our BT Premium Phone review to see if this is the right phone for you.

Panasonic KX-TGK220EW - £40

Although it looks more like a torch than a home phone, the unique-looking Panasonic KX-TGK220EW is another phone that offers call-blocking features. A single handset costs a fairly reasonable £40, which is still less than you would pay in a year for the Anonymous Caller Reject feature offered by most providers.

It's compact, so it barely takes up any space, and has an answering machine with a large memory. You can block specific numbers, as well as some categories of calls. If this phone appeals to you, go to our Panasonic KX-TGK220EW review to get the full rundown.

Are all call-blocking phones made equal?

Most of the cordless phones we test have some level of call blocking available, but this does vary between brands and models. To help you choose, our in-depth tests factor in four different categories of nuisances calls:

  • international numbers - to stop those annoying off-shore call centres from bothering you
  • mobile numbers - roving cold callers will not be able to get through
  • withheld numbers - spam callers who dial 141 before a number to hide their identity won't be connected
  • unavailable numbers - those nuisance callers who mask their caller ID entirely will be blocked.

Every cordless phone with call blocking that we test gets a dedicated star rating for this, which factors in how effective the blocking features are, and how easy it is to set up and use the call blocking on a daily basis.

However, there's more to a cordless phone than stopping nuisance calls. We also test sound quality, both from the receiver itself and the built-in loudspeaker, as well as the answering machine and ring volume.

In addition, we examine how easy a phone is to use - including both the handset and answering machine - as well as how good the phone is at long ranges, because it's nice to be able to wander around while chatting without a call cutting out unexpectedly.

Browse our Best Buy cordless home phonesto see which handsets tick the boxes in our tests.