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Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation (Read 20,384 times)
Dave
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Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Aug 20th, 2012 at 11:48am
 
The Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) has published a Consultation on the implementation of the Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83/EU.

This covers the topic that is close to the heart of members of this forum. The Directive requires that companies don't charge above the basic rate for calls to customer service numbers. Often (not always), sales lines are on numbers that don't take a Service Charge, but once in a contract, companies frequently give 084/087 numbers. When the Directive is implemented, it should make it illegal for businesses to do this.


A representative of
the fair telecoms campaign
was talking about this on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours today. The broadcast can be listened to on BBC Radioplayer here at about 25 minutes 30 seconds.
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« Last Edit: Aug 20th, 2012 at 5:58pm by Dave »  
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kasg
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #1 - Aug 20th, 2012 at 12:29pm
 
Dave wrote on Aug 20th, 2012 at 11:48am:
The Directive requires that companies don't charge above the basic rate for calls to customer service numbers. Often (not always), sales lines are on numbers that don't take a Service Charge, but once in a contract, companies frequently give 084/087 numbers.

Given how (un)successful the ban on such numbers being used for GPs has been, do we have any confidence whatsoever that such legislation would have any teeth?

(Just listening to the prog now - well done David!)
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« Last Edit: Aug 20th, 2012 at 12:33pm by kasg »  
 
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #2 - Aug 21st, 2012 at 10:43am
 
After reading BIS's "EU Consumer Rights Directive: provisions on delivery, passing of risk, communication by telephone and consent for additional payments. Impact assessment", there are two things that worry me:
  • In paragraph 27 of the impact assessment, BIS states "084/087 numbers can be low cost to the consumer, with some telephone companies charging calls to 0845/0870 numbers at the same or lower rate than a standard geographic (01,02 or 03) numbers. These calls do, however, involve some kind of revenue-sharing and therefore, the extent to which they can be considered to fulfil the basic rate criteria has to be looked at more closely". It is worrying that BIS considers any possibility that 084/087 numbers might be considered basic rate. We therefore need to present many arguments to BIS of why these numbers should not be considered basic rate.
  • Article 3 of the Consumer Rights Directive states that the directive shall not apply to contracts in certain industries, e.g. healthcare, gambling, financial services and passenger transport services. It is good news that in paragraph 30 of the impact assessment, BIS states "Costs remain the same per trader, although a slightly larger number of traders will be covered, namely regulated professionals providing healthcare services, providers of private social services (care homes etc.) package travel and timeshare traders". However, it is worrying that BIS is extending the legislation only to package travel and not to all passenger transport services. This means, for example, that Ryanair can continue to operate premium rate phone numbers for complaints, an existing unfair commercial practice that frustrates its customers. It is also puzzling why financial services should be excluded, thereby allowing banks to continue operating unfairly on 0845 numbers. I do not see why any industry should be excluded from the provisions of Article 21 of the directive.

When responding to the consultation, I therefore suggest that we all include these two points in some depth.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #3 - Aug 21st, 2012 at 12:02pm
 
NFH wrote on Aug 21st, 2012 at 10:43am:
I do not see why any industry should be excluded from the provisions of Article 21 of the directive.

Well said - that point is very obvious.

The issue may be simply about the specific and differing regulatory mechanisms used for particular industries. The basic principle of the protection of consumer interests applies equally, even if various mechanisms have to be deployed to achieve the effect. We must also note that this move sits in the context of the changes being enacted by Ofcom within a similar timeframe.

The fair telecoms campaign takes the view that whilst specific regulation has a place, the most important issue is for there to be a general understanding that:

  • Calls to all 084 and 087 numbers do, and will continue to, cause callers to incur a charge to the benefit of the person called.
  • These numbers should only be used where the existence of that charge is declared and justified.

It is the behaviour of companies that has to be changed. Talk of regulations that prohibit an activity, even before they come into effect, is an important way of securing that change in behaviour.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #4 - Aug 21st, 2012 at 5:15pm
 
Dave wrote on Aug 20th, 2012 at 11:48am:
… A representative of
the fair telecoms campaign
was talking about this on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours today. The broadcast can be listened to on BBC Radioplayer ….

… the extracted item can now be heard permantently at this link.

BBC Coventry and Warwickshire will be covering this tomorrow morning at around 9:30.
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« Last Edit: Aug 21st, 2012 at 5:27pm by SilentCallsVictim »  
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #5 - Aug 22nd, 2012 at 12:10pm
 
SilentCallsVictim wrote on Aug 21st, 2012 at 5:15pm:
BBC Coventry and Warwickshire will be covering this tomorrow morning at around 9:30.

Listen here.
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #6 - Aug 22nd, 2012 at 1:13pm
 
SilentCallsVictim wrote on Aug 22nd, 2012 at 12:10pm:

Excellent work!
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #7 - Aug 27th, 2012 at 5:25pm
 
I asked BIS why they were not extending the scope of Article 21 to passenger transport services and financial services, despite extending the scope to healthcare. I received a reply explaining that they do not extend the scope of EU directives unless they see a pressing need and additionally that financial services are covered by industry-specific legislation. They explained that if responses to the consultation provide evidence that there is a problem in these industries regarding Article 21, they would be prepared to reconsider the scope.

I therefore suggest that we all e-mail implementingthecrd@bis.gsi.gov.uk citing many examples of businesses in the passenger transport services and financial services sectors who unfairly charge more than the basic rate for customer services lines. Examples of the former would include budget airlines (e.g. Ryanair's 0871 & 09 numbers) and of the latter would include Co-op Bank (0844 numbers) and Santander (who block their geographic number to UK callers).

This is our biggest chance to outlaw 084 and 087 numbers, so we need to give BIS as much persuasion as possible to include the excluded industries in the forthcoming legislation.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #8 - Aug 27th, 2012 at 8:19pm
 
NFH wrote on Aug 27th, 2012 at 5:25pm:
… I therefore suggest that we all e-mail implementingthecrd@bis.gsi.gov.uk citing many examples …

Hear hear.

The
fair telecoms campaign
is amongst the organisations formally consulted; we will be providing such a list within our response.

In addition to direct personal representations being made, we would be delighted to receive advice of them, so that our response is comprehensive.


It is important that as many cases as possible are covered by the legislation. There will however inevitably be many exceptions. Our campaigning efforts will be focussed on projecting the idea that use of 084 numbers is considered unsuitable and will therefore be prohibited for certain types of contact.

This will apply considerable pressure to those cases which will not be covered by the legislation. Furthermore, if something is recognised as being wrong and improper, there is no need for a responsible organisation to wait until the day that it is made illegal before ceasing to do it.


The final version of the
fair telecoms
media release, which identifies a number of exceptions, is published here
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #9 - Oct 5th, 2012 at 10:47am
 
I might have found the worst offender in the financial services sector. Creation Card Services, which issues a number of credit cards on behalf of Marriott, Flybe and a number of football clubs, uses premium rate 0871 numbers for customer services. There is no justification for such abuse of such prefixes or for the legislation to exempt the financial services sector from complying.
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #10 - Oct 6th, 2012 at 8:14pm
 
I can see no good excuse for any trade/business/industry should have a Revenue Share number for Complaints/Customer Service lines including Elec, Gas, Water. RAC

All should be made to use the 03 variation before Mobile phone credit runs out waiting for the number to be answered and any problem sorted. 03 is included in all Plans.

I timed the Working Tax Credits line which is 0345 now, I phoned the number with someone I was helping from my landline and the blerb about their website etc at begining took 1.5 mins then 3 mins queuing, 10 mins answering the query Total 14.5 mins.   If this had been the old 0845 on his mobile just not useable.

Why cant GPs be included in this, surely Registration is a Contract - you can only go to another GP in an emergency - if you move you have to Register again with a Local GP - what is that if not a Contract.

Same as if you Subscribe to a Service like Sky of a Magazine and you have a problem why should people have to phone premium numbers just because you are already their Customers and have paid for a Service or Product.

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« Last Edit: Oct 6th, 2012 at 8:26pm by speedy »  
 
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #11 - Oct 6th, 2012 at 8:36pm
 
speedy wrote on Oct 6th, 2012 at 8:14pm:
I can see no good excuse for any trade/business/industry should have a Revenue Share number for Complaints/Customer Service lines including Elec, Gas, Water.

It is vital that responses to the consultation make this point as strongly as possible. The fair telecoms campaign will shortly be publishing further comments on this and attempting to excite public interest, as the deadline of 1 November approaches.

The scope of the relevant provisions must be made as wide as possible, although HMRC, DWP, NHS providers and other public bodies may not be directly covered by the legislation. Once it is clear that Service Charges are unacceptable for certain calls to the private sector, it must be seen as unthinkable that they be retained for the public sector.
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #12 - Jun 30th, 2013 at 9:49pm
 
Quote:
4. This Directive shall not apply to contracts:

(a) for social services, including social housing, childcare and support of families and persons permanently or temporarily in need, including long-term care;
(b) for healthcare as defined in point (a) of Article 3 of Directive 2011/24/EU, whether or not they are provided via healthcare facilities;

(c) for gambling, which involves wagering a stake with pecuniary value in games of chance, including lotteries, casino games and betting transactions;EN 22.11.2011 Official Journal of the European Union L 304/73

(d)for financial services;

(e) for the creation, acquisition or transfer of immovable property or of rights in immovable property;

(f) for the construction of new buildings, the substantial conversion of existing buildings and for rental of accommodation
for residential purposes;

(g) which fall within the scope of Council Directive 90/314/EEC of 13 June 1990 on package travel, package holidays and package tours ( 1 );

(h) which fall within the scope of Directive 2008/122/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 January 2009 on the protection of consumers in respect of certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange contracts ( 2 );

(i) which, in accordance with the laws of Member States, are established by a public office-holder who has a statutory obligation to be independent and impartial and who must ensure, by providing comprehensive legal information, that the consumer only concludes the contract on the basis of careful legal consideration and with knowledge of its legal scope;

(j) for the supply of foodstuffs, beverages or other goods intended for current consumption in the household, and which are physically supplied by a trader on frequent and regular rounds to the consumer’s home, residence or workplace;

(k) for passenger transport services, with the exception of Article 8(2) and Articles 19 and 22;

(l) concluded by means of automatic vending machines or automated commercial premises;

(m) concluded with telecommunications operators through public payphones for their use or concluded for the use of one single connection by telephone, Internet or fax established by a consumer.


Knowing how this government works, it will drag out implementing this for as long as it can (like it has already) and going by the exclusions in section 4 there won't be many, if any, (main) companies left that this would apply to.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #13 - Jun 30th, 2013 at 10:28pm
 
bbb_uk wrote on Jun 30th, 2013 at 9:49pm:
Knowing how this government works, it will drag out implementing this for as long as it can (like it has already) and going by the exclusions in section 4 there won't be many, if any, (main) companies left that this would apply to.

Implementation will indeed be dragged out for as long as possible. Draft regulations will be published shortly and comments will be invited. The necessary SIs will go before parliament in the Autumn, so as to meet the deadline of the end of the year for being applied in legislation. Implementation will be by the middle of 2014 - ahead of implementation of the unbundled tariff provisions from Ofcom.

The issue of exclusions was covered in the consultation.The scope that has been achieved by negotiation between Departments (notably the Department of Transport) will be seen in the draft regulations, shortly. I believe that pressure should be applied to the FCA to introduce parallel, or perhaps stricter, regulations covering providers of Financial Services. When the form of the draft regulations is published, this will provide a strong basis for representations to the FCA. (I personally believe that the FCA is a more suitable target than the Treasury, however I would be very happy to hear alternative views.)

Pressure on government bodies providing public services is a separate issue, as they cannot be covered by this type of regulation, nor indeed those proposed by Ofcom. The argument that the government cannot itself do what it prohibits others from doing is however powerful, and is being deployed. Members have not raised any points of discussion in this thread, so this is probably not an issue of significant interest.

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Re: Consumer Rights Directive: BIS consultation
Reply #14 - Jul 1st, 2013 at 7:32pm
 
I personally don't think this directive is going to do much due to the years before its actually implemented and the fact that a lot of companies are excluded.

I can't figure out why there are so many exclusions?  The only companies left that this will apply to will be mostly the smaller one-man band type companies and as it's actually rare that these type of companies use NGNs (specifically 0844) then it will be a useless directive.

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 30th, 2013 at 10:28pm:
Pressure on government bodies providing public services is a separate issue, as they cannot be covered by this type of regulation, nor indeed those proposed by Ofcom. The argument that the government cannot itself do what it prohibits others from doing is however powerful, and is being deployed. Members have not raised any points of discussion in this thread, so this is probably not an issue of significant interest.
Members are probably fed up with Ofcom having a (seemingly) vested interest in keeping these numbers active for their stakeholders than what is in the interest of us consumers   Angry
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