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Following on from our story this morning that BT was taking 36p in every £1 call made to Comic Relief's premium charity lines, we have learned that the situation may be worse than we imagined.

If the 36p charge is down to line rental and setting up the network, how come it manages to run Big Brother's lines at just 25p a call? Has the fact that 9.5p (38 per cent) of that goes to BT have anything to do with the 36p (36 per cent) of the Comic Relief call that it takes? Is this a percentage game? We're still waiting on BT's press office to tells us.

As for setting up the network. DirectLine is supplying its call centres free of charge to the Comic Relief cause - which makes you wonder why BT feels the need to charge for lines. A DirectLine spokeswoman said the company has offered its call centres, with 750 staff, free of charge to the charity for the whole evening. Good lads (and lasses).

We suppose the other question is: why is BT charging at all for the service? As one of Britain's biggest companies and one that purports to be our best friend, shouldn't it be behind this charitable occasion?

Wanna give BT 36p? Call Comic Relief on 08457 910 910. Don't worry, some of it goes to charity. ®

Bootnote

We were a little confused as to how Cable & Wireless managed to exactly halve the annual fee to the Samaritans last week for its telephone services. No longer £700,000, now just £350,000. Incredible.

Could it be that BT had accidentally double-charged the helpline charity by charging for both the call into the network and the subsequent routing of that call? Surely not. If it were true then BT would have been onto us to explain that it wasn't actually twice the price of its nearest competitor. Unless of course it decided that publicising the fact it was incompetent was the greater of two evils.

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