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"But because they initiated the first call the line doesn't clear until they hang-up, and they don't hang up while you're dialling the number."

That sounds more like a hoax of a scam. I doubt the phone system works that way.

Here's a page from Oftel (the official UK regulator of telecoms).


> When do you stop paying for a phone call?

> Call charging ends when the telecoms company disconnects the call. This is usually but not always when the caller hangs up and the call appears to end.

> Voice calls The caller originating the call must hang up for the call to end. The person receiving the call may hang up, but this will not end the call unless the originating caller also hangs up. Only when the originating caller hangs up then will call charging end. You should always check you've replaced the receiver correctly. If you have any concerns that your call has not ended, you should check that you have a dial tone - this indicates the previous call has ended.


Here's a story from the shitty Register about this method of scamming people:



Wow, thanks for the clarification. That's incredibly stupid, I can't see the upside in that, aside from the telecom being able to charge more minutes per call (which is likely why it still functions that way.)

It allows you to hang up the receiver in one room, walk to another extension and pick it up without disconnecting the call.

Sure, we just walk to the other extension and pick it up first. The minor amount of time saved sounds like a poor trade-off considering the potential for harassment.

The potential for harassment is greatly ameliorated by the fact it's the caller who pays -- receivers don't pay anything in the UK, ever. And while you're harassing, you can't use your phone.

I don't think I've ever heard of anyone being harassed in this way. A few pranks, maybe.

I'm certain it has a lot more to do with the state of technology in the 1950s than with malice or incompetence.

The behavior certainly isn't replicated on mobile phones.

I remember setting up three-way calls like this when I was a kid (and had a landline... not sure it would work with a cell phone).

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