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Main Forum >> Freedom Of Information Responses & Requests >> UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
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Message started by kk on Feb 4th, 2005 at 5:30pm

Title: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by kk on Feb 4th, 2005 at 5:30pm
Reply dated 5 Feb 05  from UK Passport.

Quote .......

Thank you for your correspondence of 5 January 2005 in which you requested information relating to 0870 telephone numbers. Your request was handled in accordance with the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and I am very sorry for the delay in responding to you.

Your request has been considered and I am pleased to be able to disclose the information you requested to you.

The Passport Service presently use a number of 0870 numbers, including the number for our main Adviceline, which handles a mixture of general enquiries, progress enquiries, appointment booking, etc.  The Passport Service has used 0870 for several years, as these have traditionally provided an element of flexibility in where calls are answered, which was not previously possible with normal geographical numbers.

The Passport Service are currently reviewing whether the continued use of 0870 numbers is appropriate for our service, which falls into a business environment, in light of the recently updated Central Office of Information Guidance.  When we previously investigated the options, it was determined that the use of 0800 / 0808 or 0844 / 0845 numbers instead of 0870 numbers would have resulted in substantially increased costs, which would have needed to be reflected in a passport fee increase. As only around half of our customers telephone the Passport Service, it was not considered fair that those customers who choose to call for assistance should be subsidised by those customers who do not call.

As you have indicated, the 0870 numbers generate a small income for the Passport Service, which helps to subsidise our telephone services.  However, this income is minimal when compared with the overall cost of running the Service's Adviceline and other telephone services, which are paid for from the passport fee.

In answer to your specific questions, the Passport Service :-

a)      are currently considering the recently updated Central Office of Information Guidance regarding the use of 0870 numbers, but no conclusions have yet been agreed;

b)      are aware of the cost incurred by our customers when calling our 0870 numbers;

c)      are not aware of the monies made by our telephony network provider per minute from our 0870 numbers; and

d)      receive an income from our 0870 numbers at the following rates - daytime £0.015 per minute, evening £0.009 per minute & weekend £0.0072 per minute.

If you are dissatisfied with this response you may request an independent internal review of any aspect of our handling of your application. This can be done by submitting your complaint to:

Private Office,
6th Floor
UK Passport Service Headquarters
Globe House
89 Eccleston Square
LONDON
SW1V 1PN

Should you remain dissatisfied after this internal review, you will have a further right of complaint to the Information Commissioner.

I hope that you find the information provided to you of interest. You have been supplied with all the information that the UK Passport Service holds relevant to your request.

Yours sincerely

Graham Foster
Telecommunications Manager

........ End Quote

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by bill on Feb 4th, 2005 at 5:40pm

wrote on Feb 4th, 2005 at 5:30pm:
Reply dated 5 Feb 05  from UK Passport.

That's clever - today's the 4th!

Didnít you ask for details of the geographical alternatives to their 0870 numbers as well?

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by kk on Feb 4th, 2005 at 6:48pm
No, but I will next time.

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by juby on Feb 4th, 2005 at 9:01pm
Don't knock it, it is one the best yet.

And it looks like HMG has shot itself in the foot by this Freedom of Information Act.

Let us fight them with their own ammunition.

Keep asking questions about 0870.

P

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by kk on Feb 8th, 2005 at 11:09am
Thanks juby.

My follow up request is shown below, I will post the response when I get it.


Quote.......

To The Passport Office.

Thank your for you letter dated 4th February 2005 by email and the helpful information you disclosed.

Can I ask you to disclose the geographical numbers that are linked to your various services normally connected via 0870 numbers.  That is, geographical numbers that can be used in place of  0870 numbers.

A normal geographical number, can, given the correct instructions, do everything that an 0870 number can do.  Obliquely, your answer appears to support this, do you agree?

Have you considered using geographical numbers instead of  0870 numbers?

Does your organisation realise that using geographical numbers would not add extra cost per call to you, and that the question of cross subsidy, would not apply?

Have you considered the problem of accessibility that 0870 numbers pose for UK citizens trying to contact you from outside the UK?  

You disclose that you receive 1.5p/min for daytime calls to your 0870 numbers and that the overall cost benefit to you is small.  Customers who telephone you on  0870 numbers are charged from 7.51p/min to 10p/min depending on their telecom provider.

If you were to use a normal geographical number, customers would be charged from 3p/min to 0p/min (irrespective of  UK location) depending on their telecom provider. Examples of zero cost are: BT Option 3,  Tiscali Anytime Saver and www.1899.com.  The cost to your customers appears to be disproportionately large compared to the small gain you disclose for yourselves. Have you considered this?

When you make disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, will you disclose: the dates of any meetings you held, minutes,  any background documentation, notes and conclusions reached.  Do you have any meetings pending?

....end quote.

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by Heinz on May 25th, 2005 at 4:10pm
kk, as considerably more than the allowed 20 days have now passed, I assume you are now complaining about their lack of response to your follow up request?

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by kk on May 25th, 2005 at 7:32pm
Thanks for the reminder, I will look into it.
KK

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by Smasher on May 27th, 2005 at 7:46pm
In case anyone hadn't noticed, there is a callback option on their site.  

Simply tick the "I'd rather be contacted by phone" box and enter your phone number, when submitting an email query.

Worked for me 8)

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by Shiggaddi on May 27th, 2005 at 9:14pm
And if you have your own 0870/0871 number, then thats even better!!

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by Gazzer on May 27th, 2005 at 11:27pm
They seem to be contradicting themselves, in one paragraph they say "When we previously investigated the options, it was determined that the use of 0800 / 0808 or 0844 / 0845 numbers instead of 0870 numbers would have resulted in substantially increased costs, which would have needed to be reflected in a passport fee increase."

and then later they say " As you have indicated, the 0870 numbers generate a small income for the Passport Service, which helps to subsidise our telephone services.  However, this income is minimal when compared with the overall cost of running the Service's Adviceline and other telephone services, which are paid for from the passport fee."

I suggest you ask them which is it? There is a world of difference between "substantially increased costs, which would have needed to be reflected in a passport fee increase" and "his income is minimal when compared with the overall cost of running the Service's Adviceline and other telephone services"

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by PeDaSp on May 28th, 2005 at 12:17am
I think they mean that their telecoms supplier is using their revenue from the 0870 to pay for the renting of the lines; call diversion etc...

But their are folk on this site who know more 'bout this then moi.

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by mc661 on May 28th, 2005 at 9:50am

wrote on May 27th, 2005 at 9:14pm:
And if you have your own 0870/0871 number, then thats even better!!


exactly what I do. ive got my own range of ten 0871's. I give the 0871 to all the companies, council, work, banks. Get abbey to call me back on the webform!

Title: Re: UK Passport - 0870 - FOI Act
Post by Dave on May 28th, 2005 at 7:49pm

wrote on May 27th, 2005 at 11:27pm:
I suggest you ask them which is it? There is a world of difference between "substantially increased costs, which would have needed to be reflected in a passport fee increase" and "his income is minimal when compared with the overall cost of running the Service's Adviceline and other telephone services"

Good point.

And what about the caller's increased call charges? How do they match up to the revenue paid to the Passport Office? Eg, if they get 2p/min, the other 5.51p/min goes to the telcos. Can they justify it?

It's a bit like cash machine charges, although not a clear.

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