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Calls from some pubs charged at a 200 per cent premium

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BT was fined yesterday for overcharging callers using phones in London pubs. The telecomms giant was caught red-handed after spot checks by trading standards officers in Brent and Harrow, North London. BT was fined £1600 after admitting to four specimen counts of overcharging in Scottish & Newcastle establishments. It also got stung for £994 costs by North London Magistrates. Seven out of the 12 bar phones examined by trading standards officers were charging more than the rate advertised, one by over 200 per cent. The offending phone promised local calls at 10p per minute, but the caller actually only got 19 seconds on the blower for their 10p. This was a 215 per cent, or over 20p a minute, overcharge. Pubs and hotels can choose what to charge for calls, but the rate must equal that on a price list displayed by the phone. BT blamed mistakes in programming the phones. Yesterday, a fault within the BT exchanges in the East Midlands town of Nottingham rendered the entire city phoneless for part of the day. The fault was caused by a power surge, BT said, although The Register has been contacted by readers claiming the power surge was caused by a workman dropping a length of scaffolding into one of the phone exchange boxes. ®

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