'Wait a second, I have never been charged before!'
Remember, this is only for work OUTSIDE OPEN REACH'S REMIT. Some fortunate people have rarely or never had a fault on their telephone line. (Myself included. *Fingers crossed*)
When a fault is reported to the telephone company uses Open Reach automated remote testing to evaluate if the fault on the line is chargeable or not.
In most cases, the automated testing finds the fault and it is on the UK telephone network and there is little to no chance that there will be any charges involved.
At any point during the testing, a customer can always request a visit to remedy the situation and, in turn, the telephone company advises a charge may be involved if the engineer discovers the fault was caused by something outside Open Reach's remit.
'Any ideas on avoiding a charge?'
While it's not always possible for anyone to say 100% that there will be no charge for a fault, three simple steps can resolve a lot of heartache and reduce the chance of being a charge:
a) Find a working phone: Sometimes a new phone can develop a fault in a short period of time. Old phones may start to malfunction as time goes on. Either way, if the phone is the problem, you don't need an engineer, you may just need a new phone! If possible, try using a phone that works in another person's house. (Not only beneficial in establishing if the phone is the cause of the fault, it may actually help in defining the fault to an analyst in the Technical Faults dept!)
b) Isolate and eliminate: Without any other equipment using the line (such as fax machines, answering machines, SKY boxes, panic alarms) or extensions and other cabling, the line may be cleared because items on the line are making the line seem engaged or are malfunctioning. If the solitary phone works without anything else on the line, you probably do not need an engineer and simply need to replace some wiring or equipment in your home.
c) Use the Master Test Socket: The Master Test socket is located underneath the Master Socket for your telephone. Once you undo the two screws on the front of the faceplate, there will be a hidden telephone socket underneath: that's the Master Test Socket. The wiring for the Master Socket has to be done by a qualified engineer with the right equipment and the correct cable for your telephone service. By placing a phone into the Master Test Socket, it will usually establish an internal wiring issue because anything else on the line is usually ignored. (See above.) If the phone works in the Master Test Socket but, not in any extensions in the house, its likely the problem is inside the house.