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Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geo Nos 2010 (Read 47,046 times)
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Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geo Nos 2010
Dec 16th, 2010 at 11:36am
 
Ofcom has today launched a consultation in which it puts forward significant proposals aimed at making pricing of non-geographic numbers simpler.

The consultation is called Simplifying Non-Geographic Numbers and runs until 10 March 2011:

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/simplifying-non-geo-numbers/


The news release is here:

http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/2010/12/tackling-consumer-confusion-over-call-char...
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #1 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 12:59pm
 
Dave wrote on Dec 16th, 2010 at 11:36am:
The consultation is called Simplifying Non-Geographic Numbers and runs until 10 March 2011:



Sorry to say I am already disappointed and dissatisfied with this Consultation and I haven't even opened it yet.

The title alone gives the game away --- a "Simplification...".  Not a proper fundamental re-axamination of this sector, a radical or intellectual review of the ethics and legitimacy of a very shady business which has been carried on for many years.  

The title of this CON--sultation indicates that the fundamentals of ripping-off the Great British Public are to be continued but perhaps simplified in some way.  The Banking, Insurance, Retail and other industries, even Government Departments and of course chiefly the Telecomms Industry itself will be given free rein to continue exploiting the public.  

The public have been conditioned over many years into thinking that taking money out of their telephone accounts and handing it over to all these avaricious industries is in some way a normal or legitimate business practice whereas it is in fact nothing but a massive scam to carry out daylight robbery from their accounts.

Will OfcoN address this fundamental issue and look at taking action to correct this wrongdoing?  Will it carry out its obligations to serve the public interest and protect telephone users from HARM, their euphemism for robbery?   No, it will look at ways of "Simplifying" the regime, making it easier for the scamming and rip-offs to continue.  What are we paying OfCoN for?????

There is perhaps one good thing which may emerge from this enormous failure by OfCoN -- and that is that the future need for SayNoTo0870.com will continue well onto the future.   Thank God and three cheers for  .... SayNo...!!!  Smiley Cheesy Grin Cool

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« Last Edit: Dec 16th, 2010 at 1:41pm by loddon »  
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #2 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:15pm
 
Noting initial reactions and (relatively little) media coverage, proposing "simplification" is not an easy thing to do, it is most certainly not "simple". One has to address and understand the present complexities, before one can recognise that that proposed outcome is indeed a major step in the right direction, if not the place that one would have started from in an ideal world.

I do hope that we will have the opportunity to have a lively debate in this thread. The issues being addressed and the proposals outlined are fundamental to the matters that we discuss in this forum. All forum contributors should take pride in the fact that the views which they have presented over a long period have been noted and in many cases taken on board by Ofcom.

It is inevitable that some will reject the consultation without having even read it, believing that it is damned by virtue of its authorship. I hope that moderators will ensure that those who wish to express opinions such as those offered in reply #1 above are able to do so without disrupting serious objective consideration of the specific proposals. There are many who do not believe that Premium Rate Services, revenue sharing, Directory enquiries and other facilities, when provided at advertised rates, are fundamentally illegitimate and tantamount to robbery. Some of us believe that efforts to clarify the charges are worthy of support, not blind condemnation. There are however serious questions about whether the measures proposed are adequate and about how they will work in practice. I hope that it will be possible for us to discuss these questions properly in this forum.

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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #3 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:59pm
 
From The Daily Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/mobile-phones/8207327/0800-numbers-should-...



By Matt Warman, Consumer Technology Editor 5:31PM GMT 16 Dec 2010

Comment

Communications regulator Ofcom has launched a consultation that could force mobile phone companies to make calls to 0800 numbers free, as well as regulate the way call charges for directory enquiries and phone voting are advertised.

Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive, said that the current environment was “opaque, confused and uncertain” as he announced that the regulator was proposing to make all calls from mobile and landlines to 0800 numbers free by 2012.

The regulator has also added that it would like to introduce a transparent system of pricing for all phone numbers. The move could mean, for instance, that phone voting on popular televisions shows such as The X Factor would display common symbols to indicate how much a call would cost.

Calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers would be charged at standard “geographic” rates as they are currently. This means they are usually part of a mobile phone contract "bundle".

Research by Ofcom has suggested that the public routinely underestimate some costs to premium rate numbers beginning 09, while they overestimate the costs of calling 08 numbers from both mobiles and landlines.


Under new proposals, the regulator would force phone companies and service providers, such as banks and electricity companies, to indicate how much a call costs to make and how much the recipient charges. The result could be on-screen messages that tells users how much as call costs, and indicates that it was also subject to a mobile company’s “access charge”.


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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #4 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 10:40pm
 
sherbert wrote on Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:59pm:
From The Daily Telegraph ...

For the benefit of those who wish to follow media coverage of the consultation I have started a roughly presented feed, viewable at this url - http://tinyurl.com/DHMediaOfcom.

There are 5 items (from major media only) currently.

I have not included this as one of my (better presented) campaigning feeds, as many unrelated topics are covered. My primary focus from the announcement of the consultation is to utilise the immediate classification of 0845 and 0844 as "business rate" with a presented need for the currently inclusive "service charge" to be unbundled, to press demands for public bodies to switch to "geographic rate" numbers (including 03).
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #5 - Dec 17th, 2010 at 6:12pm
 
I have attempted to start a discussion on one highly publicised aspect of the proposals, often covered in this forum although not a core issue  - Making Freephone Free.
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #6 - Dec 20th, 2010 at 7:52am
 
It is interesting that the January edition of Which? magazine has this as the main headline on the cover :---

"0870 0800 0845 Expensive phone numbers ...  ... and how to avoid them."

Inside is a 3 page article in which they state "As we went to press phone regulator Ofcom told Which? that UK phone numbering was a high priority and that it was looking to make changes.  We'll be working closely with them to make sure your best interests are at the heart of all the changes it makes."

It appears that Which? intends to have conversations with Ofcom during this consultation and they may well be influential.   I am a subscriber to Which? and I urged them to contribute to the previous Ofcom consultation but they seemed reluctant at that time.  I hope that this indicates a change of attitude for the better by Which? and that they will take the right approach to Ofcom this time.   I urge any other members of Which? to contact them now and add to the weight of opinion to support Which? in tackling Ofcom on this issue.
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #7 - Dec 21st, 2010 at 9:37am
 
An excellent comment in The Telegraph which makes the point very succinctly that I have been promoting.

Pericles
12/17/2010 10:01  
All non-geographic numbers should cost the caller the same as from a land-line (01/02/03).

Where businesses, government departments &c. — for their own convenience or any other reason — choose to use a non-geographic number, any additional cost ought to be borne by those organizations, not by the caller.


Very well said, Pericles   Wink Smiley Smiley

Ofcom --- please take note.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/mobile-phones/8207327/0800-numbers-should-...
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #8 - Dec 21st, 2010 at 9:50am
 
Ofcom are proposing that 0843/4/5 and 0871/2/3 numbers be termed "Business Rate".

They propose that calls to these numbers are composed of two elements ---
--- the basic call cost, ie. the normal geographic rate charged by a callers service provider, and
--- the added charge for the business service provided by the non-geo number

This seems to be an excellent idea provided the caller pays only for the first element and the "Business" or organisation pays for the Business element.
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #9 - Dec 21st, 2010 at 11:22am
 
loddon wrote on Dec 21st, 2010 at 9:50am:
Ofcom are proposing that 0843/4/5 and 0871/2/3 numbers be termed "Business Rate".

They propose that calls to these numbers are composed of two elements ---
--- the basic call cost, ie. the normal geographic rate charged by a callers service provider, and
--- the added charge for the business service provided by the non-geo number

This seems to be an excellent idea provided the caller pays only for the first element and the "Business" or organisation pays for the Business element.

This is not the Ofcom proposal - the two elements exist at present, with the caller paying both. Ofcom proposes that the charge for the business element which is paid by the caller is presented as such - it is the presentation of the two elements as separate which is the key of the Ofcom proposal. This proposal treats "Business Rate" calls in exactly the same way as "Premium Rate".

What this means in practice is that those who are unable to present their numbers as including a passed on charge will have to cease using "Business Rate" numbers. We must also remember that every business will always have to recover its costs somehow - if not from telephone callers, it will be from the shareholders or taxpayers who fund it, or perhaps its customers. There will be shareholders, taxpayers and customers who think that callers should carry some of the cost of dealing with the calls they make. All that Ofcom is doing is proposing that when this happens, it is transparent.


(Noting the quoted comment from the telegraph)
I believe that Ofcom has taken note of this point. The requirement to state the added charge means that it must be justifiable.
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #10 - Dec 22nd, 2010 at 11:47am
 
Another interesting comment posted by "jdavidj" on The telegraph site :---

"jdavidj

I believe the consumer should only start paying for a call-centre call once an operator has been connected. Any time spent queuing, and listening to inane messages about being recorded, unexpectedly high demand etc., should be paid for by the call centre.

I don't pay for the time sitting in a restaurant, only for the food I came to eat - and it costs no more for a slow service. It should be the same for a call centre
"

This illustrates one of the fundamental flaws with the design of the NGCS numbers and which it appears the proposals from Ofcom will not rectify.
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #11 - Dec 22nd, 2010 at 12:31pm
 
loddon wrote on Dec 22nd, 2010 at 11:47am:
Another interesting comment posted by "jdavidj" on The telegraph site :---

"jdavidj

I believe the consumer should only start paying for a call-centre call once an operator has been connected. Any time spent queuing, and listening to inane messages about being recorded, unexpectedly high demand etc., should be paid for by the call centre.

I don't pay for the time sitting in a restaurant, only for the food I came to eat - and it costs no more for a slow service. It should be the same for a call centre
"

This illustrates one of the fundamental flaws with the design of the NGCS numbers and which it appears the proposals from Ofcom will not rectify.

Given the present design of the telephone network, the flaw is in allowing call centres to hold queues of people waiting to speak to someone. This is based on the principle of having a number (whether geo or no-geo - it makes no difference) that does not connect to a single line. A proposal to ban such facilities under the present design of the network could be put forward, but is unlikely to achieve widespread support as this facility is valued by many callers.

A wholly new method of charging for telephone calls, so that the receiving party pays for the call whilst the caller is on hold is an interesting suggestion. It would be interesting to hear what proposals may be presented for how this could work and what regulations could be introduced to compel such a mechanism (once developed) to be deployed. Would I have to pay for the call whilst I asked my caller to wait so that I could move over to speak on another extension?

If metering of calls were to be deferred until live conversation were taking place, this would make calls to recorded information and answering services free of charge. This and other solutions that did not place the charge on the receiving party would simply make connected calls more expensive.


A more sophisticated approach, which is perhaps aligned to the point being made, is for the "service charge" element of a "Business" or "Premium Rate" call not to kick in until the service is actually being delivered. Again, it would be interesting to hear suggestions about how this could be achieved in practice and how the telcos should recover the cost of the sizable amount of development in metering and billing that would be required.

My own view is that when making such a call one has to judge whether the benefit being delivered is worthwhile for the total cost. The likely duration of the call, including waiting time, is obviously a factor affecting both the quality of the service and the cost. The same is true for a restaurant, even though the waiting time does not actually affect the cost. As with any chargeable service, that can only be matter to be resolved between the service provider and the service user.


I firmly believe that if the idea of "Business Rate" calls, with an identified service charge as part of the call cost gets properly established, then we will be able to look on such calls in a proper light. This must mean that many who presently use 084 numbers will have to move away to "Geographic Rate" (01/02/03) numbers.


There is of course another possible remedy.

Call centres could be compelled to stop answering calls if there is no agent available to speak immediately, or perhaps within a certain defined time limit. Imposing such a requirement is outside the scope of Ofcom's present powers, so new legislation would be required - from a government that has a ban on new regulations.

My preference is to encourage busy call centres to deploy the automated callback technology which many already use at busy times.
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #12 - Dec 22nd, 2010 at 1:17pm
 
The Daily Mail reported on the Which? report (Jan 2010 edition) here:--

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1340277/The-worst-centres-waiting-cost-f...

This story has generated 275 readers comments so far and many of them make salutary reading.   I recommend Ofcom to read every one of them and seriously reconsider their proposals because the proposals will do nothing to deal with bulk of callers complaints, as described in these comments, about use of 084/7 numbers.

Some of the comments:---
".... I pay BT for free calls 24 hrs a day which covers all 'geographical codes' and I resent having to pay exorbitant fees on top. One thing that really annoys me is that our GPs are also on an 0844 number...this should not be legal.
- BB, Poole, UK, 21/12/2010 5:32
"

I have often thought that some companies have you 'held in a queue' for at least 20 minutes before they even find out what you need so they can generate the revenue for the staff from your call.

One particular call I waited 20 minutes to be answered and asked the teenager who was at the other end of the phone if they were busy and he said 'no, I've been sitting here for the last half an hour waiting to deal with anyone' . When I asked to speak to a supervisor about this the tone of the call changed completely and I was mysteriously lost in the system and cut off - thereby having to call again and wait another 25 minutes to be told how busy they were! Yeah, right
- Miss Mouse, Bedford, 21/12/2010 2:37


HMRC could have been named and shamed too, having waited eleven minutes the other day. They keep repeating some message about looking on the internet for the information, that is why I am phoning them because the information I need is NOT on the internet.
- MaryH, Maidenhead, 21/12/2010 2:19
13 minutes and 49 seconds to speak to someone at BT? Pah! That's nothing, I once waited 35 minutes to speak to someone at BT. And I bet that wasn't even the longest wait. Customer service in this country is diabolical. I sometimes wish I could reach down the phone line and grab somebody.
- Peter, Proud Englishman. Ex Royal Artillery., Manchester., 21/12/2010 1:56


sky deliberately make you wait first they filter your call ,if its to purchase movies,sport etc you are connected within seconds,if its to cancel some or all of your sky package you are made to wait ages in the hope you will give up and call back later or perhaps just forget to.A very good business strategy. If you do cancel ,by the time you do get through they have made a few quid off you ,if you forget or just give up they have retained a customer, win win i think
- david, newton aycliffe co durham, 21/12/2010 5:24


I would have thought that the Tax credits line just so you can request an Apllication form'' is one of the WORST!.......I waited 37 mins at a high cost just to order my form......When it didn't arrive after neasrly 3 weeks I had to phone again (25 mins waiting) to see where it was and they then ordered a new one for me.......Surely you should be able to request an Application form by the internet or through a bmore ''cost effective'' method......Or is it designed to put people OFF applying for something they are entitled too.
The current government said they were goingto make the tax laws simpler.....The sooner the better!!!
- Theresa, Used to be a Nation, 21/12/2010


I worked for a Health Insurance company - very popular and well-known. We were under strict instructions to keep members on the phone while we sorted out their query. You were not allowed to come off the phones to sort anything out. E.g. a member rang as they had received an advice that £7000 had been paid out on their policy for an operation which they never had. You had to keep them there while you 'got the drains up' to investigate our error. It could take up to an hour, but woe betide you if you offered to just rectify things and let them go. Your supervisor would be on top of you like a ton of bricks. In the meantime, the member had to wait for his/her evening meal, AND pay for the call. It wasn't even their fault or problem. That kind of 'service' is nothing short of scandalous. And they are all at it.
- Petew, Manchester, 21/12/2010 6:00
"

The point here is that mostly these 084/7 numbers are not used for providing a value-added service but are simply for normal customer to business communication which could easily be done with an 01/02/03 number.   If the companies feel they need 084/7 numbers then they should be required by Ofcom to pay for them, that is , to pay for the Business element of the charge, while the caller is allowed to pay just for the access charge at a normal rate.
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #13 - Dec 22nd, 2010 at 1:24pm
 
Ofcom should note that their proposals are NOT "Simplifying" the call charges but are making the whole regime much more complicated.   People I have spoken to about this have said immediately that they don't like this idea and would find it harder to understand and they don't have the time to waste in going into detail with every phone call they make and then trying to work out how they should react.

In my view this illustrates the point.   These proposals just will NOT work.   Fundamentally the Ofcom proposals are seeking to continue forcing callers to pay for services that benefit the companies rather than the callers, and it is far too complicated.
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Re: Ofcom consultation: Simplifying Non-Geographic
Reply #14 - Dec 27th, 2010 at 7:10pm
 
Could someone explain how the Ofcom proposals will simplify the current pricing complexity of non-geographic calls, because I cannot see in the Ofcom consultation document.   For example, if you want to find out the charge rate for any non-geo number from Virgin Media, you need to consult their pricing tables to be precise, here :---  http://allyours.virginmedia.com/pdf/uk_non-geographical_calls_a.pdf

This document is 24 pages long and contains lists of non-geo numbers with the "chargeband" alongside.   You then need to look up the chargeband somewhere to find out the cost.   As you can see there are thousands of numbers and hundreds of chargebands and I wonder if anyone using this site, apart from Dave and perhaps a few other geniuses, have ever actually done this?

To provide just a flavour of what these tables are like I have copied a very small extract from page 6 of Virgin Media's document and pasted it below.  However, I do urge you to use the link and look at this document for yourselves.

The key question is --- will Ofcom's proposals lead to elimination of this sort of nonsense?

CODE         CHARGEBAND

079118       FW2
07937         MB1
079567       MB1
07978         FW5
079785       FW1
079788       FW3
0800           FREE
0808           FREE
083408        PG6
0843000       PG6
0843001      PG24
0843002         FF29
0843003      PG11
0843004       PG20
0843005       PG6
0843006        PG6
0843007        PG8
0843008       PG8
0843009       PG9
0843010        PG10
0843011        PG11
0843012         PG6
0843016       PG9

0843101 PG9
0843102 PG10
0843103 PG11
0843104 PG6
0843105 PG6
0843106 PG8
0843107 PG9
0843108 PG10
0843109 PG11
0843110 PG27
0843111 PG8
0843112 PG28
0843113 PG9
0843114 PG10
0843115 PG11
0843116 PG6
08440010 I22
08440011 I23
08440012 I24
08440013 I25
08440014 I26
08440030 I3
08440031 I4
08440032 I5
08440033 I8
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