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Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile (Read 25,656 times)
SilentCallsVictim
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Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile
Sep 11th, 2011 at 10:22am
 
I see that there is an alternative number published in the database for the Citizens Advice Advice Line, 0844 411 1444
- 0300 330 0650 from mobiles only.

Why is this alternative only available to mobile callers?
Many landline callers pay an additional £1.18 for a 10 minute call to the 0844 number (11.8p per minute)?

(Contrary to what is said on the Citizens Advice website, all landline callers pay more than 5p per minute.
A 10-minute call from a BT landline would cost 64p - 6.4p per minute.)



As I can call the 0300 number without charge from my mobile - this would be the best way for me to contact Citizens Advice.

Others with contract mobiles would be advised to do the same.



I see that Citizens Advice does not publish the alternative number itself.
Does it intend that mobile callers should call the 0844 number at the premium rate to find out the alternative
and that those with landlines should not use their mobiles to save money?

The announcement, which reveals the unpublished alternative number, even invites mobile callers to continue at the 0844 rate.
(Hear a recording at this link)

The announcement given to landline callers omits the information about the 0300 number.



Through its telephone service provider Citizens Advice benefits from a subsidy of around 5p per minute (including VAT) on all calls to the 0844 number. Call originators add their own "Access Charge" to this 5p per minute "Service Charge".
My mobile provider adds an access charge of 35p per minute.

Is Citizens Advice content for me to pay my provider £3.50 for a 10 minute call, so that it can earn a subsidy of 50p?
It invites (or should that be "encourages") me to do this!

Even for the first minute, whilst I hear the unpublished alternative number, I am charged 40p, of which 5p goes to Citizens Advice.



A 10 minute call to the 0844 number from my Virgin Media Landline would yield around 50p in subsidy to Citizens Advice and 63p to Virgin Media.

As all of these amounts include VAT, this is a highly inefficient way of a charity raising money, when I could call a 0300 number with no call charge.

If I made a donation, this would be free of VAT and subject to Gift Aid.



Citizens Advice is shortly to take on the role of the Government-appointed advocate for the consumer interest (presently Consumer Focus and a variety of other bodies) and also as the provider of government-funded consumer advice (presently Consumer Direct). There is a public consultation currently running on the detail of these arrangements.

The Principles of Citizens Advice, which doubtless are relevant to it being awarded this role, include the following:

Quote:
The service provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities.

I would seek to offer the following advice to CA:
  • "Free" would generally be understood to mean that the service is provided without charge to the benefit of the provider.
    All calls to 0844 numbers are subject to a premium charge because of the revenue share that is paid on to the called party's telephone company.
  • A consumer advocate would probably suggest that service users have a right to accurate cost information.
    The statement "Calls to our national phone service (0844 numbers) will be charged at five pence per minute from a landline" is false.
    (See published tariffs and the examples given above.)
  • Any provider of information and assistance to consumers would probably wish to see a low-cost or free number widely advertised, not provided only to those who call an expensive number or consult a scam-busting website such as SayNoTo0870.com.

I believe that Citizens Advice has much to do before it is ready to take on the role that it has chosen to accept from the government.


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« Last Edit: Sep 11th, 2011 at 4:37pm by SilentCallsVictim »  
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Dave
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Citizens Adviceís silly phone numbers game
Reply #1 - Sep 12th, 2011 at 6:27pm
 
I've just posted my own blogging on this topic: Citizens Adviceís silly phone numbers game.

How hypocritical of Citizens Advice:

  • It says that one of its key principles is to offer advice for free. But through its use of 0844 numbers, it benefits to the tune of around 5 pence per minute for its service.
  • In its response to the Ofcom consultation on the future of non-geographic phone numbers earlier this year, Citizens Advice said that it strongly supports the regulatorís proposal to improve price transparency. Yet it isnít open about the amount it costs to ring it.
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« Last Edit: Sep 12th, 2011 at 8:17pm by Dave »  
 
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Smasher
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Re: Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile
Reply #2 - Feb 22nd, 2012 at 9:32pm
 
Martin Lewis supports this site and has brought about a significant amount of funding for CAB.

What is his view on the situation? Has he told CAB to stop ripping off vulnerable and poor people who need advice?
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Re: Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile
Reply #3 - Feb 24th, 2012 at 1:24pm
 
The CAB in Dunfermline uses a 0845 for whatever reason!
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Re: Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile
Reply #4 - Apr 19th, 2012 at 9:28am
 
I just sent them feedback about it although I expect it to not be taken seriously.

it seems 0845 0844 is all too common for numbers vulnerable people would ring.
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Dave
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Citizens Advice Consumer Service Helpine
Reply #5 - Jul 23rd, 2012 at 9:01pm
 
Citizens Advice has now taken over what was formerly Consumer Direct (operated by OFT). It is now known as the Citizens Advice Consumer Service Helpline or "Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline" as it identifies itself when called.

On the page it says:

Quote:
Call charges

Our clear, practical advice is free. Call charges for the national 0845 number are around 6p per minute from a BT landline (depending on your package). Charges from other networks may vary and mobiles may cost considerably more.


In response to this statement:
  • The advice may well be free, but the 0845 number includes a Service Charge of around 2 pence per minute which is undeclared.
  • Call charges from a BT line are either:
    • Nothing where they are part of an inclusive package; or
    • For BT subscribers on a Calling Plan ringing at a time outside of their package, it costs 2.042 pence per minute plus 13.1 pence Call Set-up fee; or
    • For BT subscribers on non-discounted tariffs, such as BT Basic, they pay 4.032 pence per minute plus 3.1 pence Call Set-up fee.

    "Around 6p per minute" is meaningless. The Call Set-up fee for Calling Plan customers ringing when calls aren't inclusive, is not mentioned.
  • Calls from BT vary from others; Citizens Advice, like many other 084 abusers claims that "other" networks vary from BT when it is the other way around.


  • Following the link to the Alternative numbers page, it gives a geographic number for English speaking and one for Welsh speaking enquiries.

    It contains the text:
    Quote:
    Depending on your supplier, calls to geographic numbers may be cheaper. The following are geographic alternatives to the main 0854 [sic] Citizens Advice consumer service numbers, which will be charged at the local rate.

    BT, the only provider that Citizens Advice gives (meaningless) call pricing for, is not allowed to levy its own Access Charge; it can only bill for the Service Charge. Consequently, 0845 rates are lower than the rates for geographic calls outside of packages.

    Despite this, Citizens Advice maintains that geographic numbers "may" be cheaper.


    As I say, this is what 084 abusers often do:
    • Fail to mention the Service Charge they benefit from.
    • Mention only BT's atypical rates.
    • Purport that BT's rates are the norm and that others vary by imposing an Access Charge, which BT is forbidden from charging.
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    loddon
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    Re: Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile
    Reply #6 - Jul 24th, 2012 at 8:28am
     
    A very good and clear analysis Dave.† †I presume you and/or The Fair Telecoms Campaign will be writing to Citizens Advice pointing out these errors and asking them to correct their statements.

    I would also hope that you will be writing to the relevant Government Department about this issue as well as Which? and other concerned organisations.

    It still astonishes us that the Government can so casually hand over responsibility for this service to an organisation that has demonstrated its incompetence in this area over a very long time --- although we shouldn't be that surprised as it seems one incompetent outfit is controlling another!

    We must also wonder about the validity and dependability of the advice that CA dispense in other areas if they are so incapable of understanding the simple matter of the cost of a telephone call to their own service!

    What a hopeless bunch to be misleading the public in this way from their important national position in guiding and helping people.† †Sad Shocked Angry
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    « Last Edit: Jul 24th, 2012 at 8:32am by loddon »  
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    Heinz
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    Re: Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile
    Reply #7 - Jul 24th, 2012 at 3:41pm
     
    Quote:
    0208 1850 710 English language
    0208 1850 717 Welsh language

    They can't even format those numbers correctly!

    020 8185 0710 English language
    020 8185 0717 Welsh language
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    After years of ignoring govt. guidelines & RIPPING OFF Council Tax payers using 0845 numbers, Essex County Council changed to 0345 numbers on 2 November 2015
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    derrick
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    Re: Citizens Advice Consumer Service Helpine
    Reply #8 - Jul 25th, 2012 at 9:35am
     
    Dave wrote on Jul 23rd, 2012 at 9:01pm:
    It contains the text:
    Quote:
    Depending on your supplier, calls to geographic numbers may be cheaper. The following are geographic alternatives to the main 0854 [sic] Citizens Advice consumer service numbers, which will be charged at the local rate.



    And still claim is "local rate", which is a false and meaningless statement!!

    .
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    catj
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    Re: Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile
    Reply #9 - Jul 25th, 2012 at 6:03pm
     
    A complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority is in order.

    They have already judged against a number of organisations making this false claim.
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    bigjohn
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    Re: Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile
    Reply #10 - Jul 25th, 2012 at 8:36pm
     
    Then what happens† some local authorities trading standards suggest its a local call on their sites.

    Even Donny Council cant get it right Dave. Wink

    "Doncaster Trading Standards


    Contact details


    For confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues, visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on:

    08454 04 05 06 (calls are charged at local rate from a BT landline)."


    http://www.doncaster.gov.uk/business/trading_standards/about_us/trading_standard...

    Another example : http://www.wirral.gov.uk/my-services/business/trading-standards/consumer-advice

    and another http://www.pkc.gov.uk/Council+and+government/Council+information+performance+and...
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    « Last Edit: Jul 25th, 2012 at 8:46pm by bigjohn »  

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    Dave
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    Citizens Advice Direct Advice Line (Scotland) FREE
    Reply #11 - Aug 13th, 2012 at 4:06pm
     
    Citizens Advice Direct is a provider of advice and information to the citizens of Scotland. Its number used to be 0844 848 9600, but has recently changed to 0808 800 9060. This is free to call from the main mobile networks as part of an arrangement by the Helplines Association. It is also free to call from landlines.

    The new number was launched at the end of April, although disappointingly the message about the absence of call charges (for most) has not been conveyed here by NACAS (North Ayrshire Citizens Advice Service). It says "Calls to the Advice Line are free from a BT landline. Mobile charges may vary. If in doubt please check rates to 0800 and 0808 numbers with your mobile operator or network provider."


    Whilst it is worth noting that it is now free to call from landlines and the main mobile operators, it is interesting to see that Citizens Advice Direct has deviated from Citizens Advice generally in that it has abandoned its 0844 number which imposed Service Charges on all callers. Citizens Advice bodies widely use 084 numbers.

    That said, Citizens Advice considers the issue of high call charges with 084 numbers to only be an issue for mobile callers, as the original topic of this thread explains. Maybe that was the main reason why Citizens Advice Direct decided to apply for a Helplines Association 0808 80x number after all. Huh
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    « Last Edit: Aug 13th, 2012 at 4:11pm by Dave »  
     
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    CJT-80
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    Re: Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile
    Reply #12 - Aug 13th, 2012 at 7:57pm
     
    Dave et al,

    Clearly someone who designs the webpage needs to be told a few words about confusing information..

    http://www.citizensadvicedirect.org.uk/get-advice/types-of-advice.aspx says to call 0844 xxx xxxxx

    http://www.citizensadvicedirect.org.uk/contact-us.aspx says to call 0808 xxx xxxx

    They need to be clear WHICH one to call..

    I will give them feedback later.

    Sad
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    Regards,

    CJT-80

    Any comments made are my own and are not those of SayNoTo0870.com
     
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    CJT-80
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    Re: Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile
    Reply #13 - Apr 18th, 2013 at 7:20pm
     
    A new post regarding the CAB

    I have placed a new number in the unverified listings for Salford CAB (Greater Manchester), whom I contacted on behalf of two friends.

    Another CAB office that has an 0844 number for landlines and publishes an 03 number for mobiles.

    Perhaps Dave would be so kind to place it in the Verified listings and amend it's name as required?

    Many Thanks
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    Regards,

    CJT-80

    Any comments made are my own and are not those of SayNoTo0870.com
     
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    derrick
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    Re: Citizens Advice - best to use a contract mobile
    Reply #14 - Apr 19th, 2013 at 11:34am
     
    And they offer a good, (not), explanation why they use 0844/0845 numbers on their "Why we use 0844/0845 numbers" webpage: -
    http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/getadvice/why_we_use_084_numbers.htm

    .
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