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Message started by Dave on Sep 13th, 2010 at 2:51am

Title: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Dave on Sep 13th, 2010 at 2:51am
The cost of calling HMRC was featured on 5 Live Investigates yesterday (Sunday) evening:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00tpvfr/5_live_Investigates_12_09_2010/

Listen to the programme using this link until 10:02pm Sun, 19 Sep 2010.


As the interviewee says, all public services currently using 0845 numbers should immediately switch on their 0345 equivalent numbers.

I call on HMRC, DWP and all the other users of these rip-off numbers to Switch on your 0345 numbers!

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 13th, 2010 at 3:11am

Dave wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 2:51am:
Listen to the programme using this link until 10:02pm Sun, 19 Sep 2010.

The clip in question has now been extracted and can be heard at this link

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Trenod on Sep 13th, 2010 at 6:47pm

Dave wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 2:51am:
I call on HMRC, DWP and all the other users of these rip-off numbers to Switch on your 0345 numbers!


Seconded. After HMRC's recent c*ck-up with our money, it's the very least they can do.

In fact, they should go one step further and switch to 0800 or 0808 numbers - both free to call from all landlines and payphones.

Having to pay in order to inquire about one's tax is, frankly, insulting.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 13th, 2010 at 7:17pm

Trenod wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 6:47pm:
In fact, they should go one further and switch to 0800 or 0808 numbers - both free to call from all landlines and payphones.

Having to pay in order to inquire about one's tax is, frankly, insulting.

This is perfectly fair point to make in argument, so long as one is happy to pay one's share towards someone else's mobile phone call cost when they enquire about their taxes.

I am personally content for us each to pay the cost of a normal telephone call, as a general rule. Likewise, I see it as fair that we pay for our computer and broadband access when using on-line facilities, for paper and a stamp when writing or our travel costs when visiting an office.

There are undoubtedly particular exceptional situations, e.g. a lengthy call to discuss a HMRC error, where it would be appropriate for HMRC to pay for the call. A special "free to caller" number for enquiries about the current coding mixup would perhaps be appropriate. I do not however believe that all calls to enquiry numbers should be paid for in full by other taxpayers. I would apply the same principle to all public services.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by sherbert on Sep 13th, 2010 at 7:42pm
Most people would probably agree with you SCV, however what is completely unacceptable is people being kept on hold for ages and ages and having to pay for that luxuary.


Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Trenod on Sep 13th, 2010 at 8:41pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 7:17pm:
This is a perfectly fair point to make in argument, so long as one is happy to pay one's share towards someone else's mobile phone call cost when they enquire about their taxes.


Huh? Mobile phone calls to 0800, 0808 and 0500 numbers are not free (except on the relatively new 'giffgaff' network). I don't think they're even 'inclusive' (i.e. included with 'free minute' bundles)?

My suggestion is motivated by the notion that someone with a mobile phone and no landline (which is becoming increasingly common, especially among young people) could call HMRC for free from a payphone, rather than run up a huge bill or throw away all of his pre-paid calling credit on an expensive 084 call. And of course, someone with a landline phone would just use that. Surely neither would cost the taxpayer that much? :-?

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 13th, 2010 at 10:00pm

Trenod wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 8:41pm:
Mobile phone calls to 0800, 0808 and 0500 numbers are not free (except on the relatively new 'giffgaff' network). I don't think they're even 'inclusive' (i.e. included with 'free minute' bundles)?

DWP has made arrangements to pay for calls from mobiles to its 0800 "initial application" numbers, so that they are free to the caller. I assumed you were suggesting that HMRC did the same with all of its enquiry numbers. (The DWP continues to use 0845 numbers for enquiries.)

I would not support the suggestion that those without landlines (28% of socio-economic group DE households and 30% of under-25 households) should be required to use a public payphone, rather than calling from their home.

It is now standard practice with landlines to provide "normal" calls without call charges as part of a Call Plan or package to cover all the times when the phone is used. The "penalty" charges imposed for calling outside the terms of the package make this clear. Contract mobile deals are increasingly offering inclusive calls to normal landlines. Where this applies, getting the taxpayer to pick up the cost of the call is of no benefit to the caller. That does not cover all cases, but it is important to explain that "the taxpayer" would have to pay if advancing the argument for "free to caller" calls.



sherbert wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 7:42pm:
Most people would probably agree with you SCV, however what is completely unacceptable is people being kept on hold for ages and ages and having to pay for that luxuary.

Given that not every call can be answered immediately, I suggest that it is the use of 0845 numbers which is "completely unacceptable". The long hold times, and a horrifying number of calls where callers give up waiting, help support the argument against the use of numbers which cause a premium to be incurred.

I am arguing that avoiding the costs of call-backs would enable HMRC and others to save money from their budget by switching to 03xx, because this saving should be seen to outweigh the loss of the revenue share. Furthermore, the waiting times mean that the costly call-backs only provides a modest benefit to callers. The additional time that agents waste on discussing and dialling call-backs reduces their ability to take new calls and thereby puts more pressure on the waiting times.

I agree that where the waiting times are excessive, more money should be spent on making additional agents available. That is not an easy argument to advance at present, if one hopes for it to be accepted. Other options are improved telephone systems, better training for agents to enable them to deal with enquiries more swiftly and improved system support for agents to help them to do their job. Unfortunately all of these points run into the same obstacle.

Spending money on new PAYE systems in the hope of reducing the number of errors and consequently reduce the number of enquiries is another option - but we know what happens when new systems are implemented!

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Trenod on Sep 14th, 2010 at 12:42am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 10:00pm:
DWP has made arrangements to pay for calls from mobiles to its 0800 "initial application" numbers, so that they are free to the caller. I assumed you were suggesting that HMRC did the same with all of its enquiry numbers.


No, I wasn't. I accept that public (and many private) bodies can't afford to pay the extortionate fees charged by the greedy mobile phone companies for connecting calls to 0800 and similar numbers! Some may not even be able to afford to pay for connecting such calls from landlines, in which case they should just be honest and say so - and, instead of automatically resorting to 084 and 087 numbers as the 'easy way out', give serious consideration and study to the use of 01/02 numbers (which would require paying extra staff to answer calls), or 03 numbers (which, as an automated service, would require paying an extra subscription to their telco - albeit a slightly cheaper one than for an 08 number, as I understand it?).


SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 10:00pm:
I would not support the suggestion that those without landlines (28% of socio-economic group DE households and 30% of under-25 households) should be required to use a public payphone, rather than calling from their home.


Of course they shouldn't "be required" to do so, but until the situation with mobile phone companies changes they may feel that they have no choice. Until the mobile phone companies agree to make all 0800 and similar numbers free to call (with giffgaff leading the way in that area, it could well happen eventually), it makes financial sense for people without a landline - especially if they have a low income - to phone an 0800 or similar number from a payphone than from a mobile. The poorest might have no access to either a landline or a phonebox - in which case, why should they have to pay for these calls from their basic, Pay as You Go mobile?


SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 10:00pm:
It is now standard practice with landlines to provide "normal" calls without call charges as part of a Call Plan or package to cover all the times when the phone is used. The "penalty" charges imposed for calling outside the terms of the package make this clear.


I'm fully aware of this. I assume that's why line rental now is so expensive, and going up all the time! That, and the inclusive calls to 0845 and 0870 now offered by BT and TalkTalk - which I predicted, at the time they came in last year, would lead to line rental increases (that's where BT prefers to put price rises, rather than on its call packages).


SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 10:00pm:
Contract mobile deals are increasingly offering inclusive calls to normal landlines.


I'm aware of that too, but do those "inclusive calls" include ones made to 0800, 0808 and 0500 numbers? I've always been on Vodafone Pay as You Go, with no interest in changing to a billing system, so I wouldn't know - but all companies except newcomer giffgaff charge those numbers at their standard rate on PAYG. Come to think of it, I've no idea how giffgaff can afford to make them free, given that they are a 'virtual' operator piggybacking on the o2 network!


SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 10:00pm:
Where this applies, getting the taxpayer to pick up the cost of the call is of no benefit to the caller. That does not cover all cases, but it is important to explain that "the taxpayer" would have to pay if advancing the argument for "free to caller" calls.


In the case of calls from mobiles, yes. But surely the big four at least (Vodafone, o2, Orange and T-Mobile) could easily afford to make all 0800 and similar numbers free if they wanted to - given how much profit they rake in from calls to geographic numbers and mobiles and, in particular, their hugely-overpriced SMS texting! (Apparently it's cheaper to download data from the Hubble telescope than it is to send a text message!!!)


SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 10:00pm:
I am arguing that avoiding the costs of call-backs would enable HMRC and others to save money from their budget by switching to 03xx, because this saving should be seen to outweigh the loss of the revenue share. Furthermore, the waiting times mean that the costly call-backs only provides a modest benefit to callers. The additional time that agents waste on discussing and dialling call-backs reduces their ability to take new calls and thereby puts more pressure on the waiting times.


Out of interest, how does the cost of subscribing to an 03 number compare to the cost of subscribing to an 0800, 0808, 0844, 0845, 0870 or 0871 number? I understand that it's much cheaper than all of those, but presumably that benefit is offset for companies that use them by the lack of revenue share?

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 14th, 2010 at 2:25am

Trenod wrote on Sep 14th, 2010 at 12:42am:
... ...

Firstly can I say how good it is to be able to engage in discussion on these points; "welcome to the forum" sounds a little patronising, but it is good to get into these exchanges.

The problem with mobiles is that they do not charge a "line rental" fee, they recover their costs through charges for outgoing and incoming calls. This makes comparison between landlines and mobiles difficult. They may also be "too profitable" as businesses, but that is another issue.

The process of mobiles recovering money from incoming calls is being halted in stages over the next few years. Some believe that the only effect of this will be a reduction in profits, others (including myself) wait to see what will happen. It could be that outgoing call charges will rise and severe minimum usage limits are set, or some form of line rental charge will be introduced. The complex arrangements with call bundle and handset lease/purchase being combined into a single contract price makes it very difficult to follow just what is going on.

BT has just increased its line rental charge, however the most severe increases over the last few years are in the charges for calls made outside a Call Plan. I am tracking these and they show a steady rate of 30% per annum. This is all about encouraging customers to subscribe to the appropriate Call Plan. BT making 0845 inclusive is easy (because it makes no money on these calls anyway). Talk Talk and Sky have only done the same because they compete fiercely with BT and perhaps feel that they have to; in general commercial terms, it is nonsense for them to do so.

GiffGaff is offering a radically new and different approach. Sometimes this type of thing can change a whole market, sometimes the idea sinks without trace. Many of the present deals are obviously give-aways used to enable the company to win customers and get off the ground. I have no idea how long it will be before it starts to actually make money and what sort of deals it will be able to sustain in the long term. I wish it no ill in saying that time will tell.

Non-geographic numbers are not "Normal landlines". Only calls to 03xx numbers have to be (and are in practice) charged at the same rate.


Our campaigning can get complicated as there are three general target areas: Telcos, Ofcom and the various groups of users of the different types of non-geographic number.

This thread is focussed on what HMRC (and perhaps other large public sector users of 0845 numbers) should do NOW.

We may feel that DWP missed a trick by agreeing to pay the mobile operators to make their 0800 numbers free to call. I cannot say whether those who negotiated this arrangement were aware that the mobile companies could have (allegedly) afforded to do it for nothing, and also made all other 0800 calls free at the same time.

I suggest that anyone with the skills or information necessary to enable HMRC achieve a better deal offers this immediately to the officials who are currently looking into its telephone arrangements. I am sure that it would be gratefully received.

With a 03 number there is no external element to the cost of the services used. With 080 numbers there is an additional cost in paying the call originator. With 084 and 087 there is a benefit from the revenue share to offset costs. Because non-geographic numbers have to come with certain additional features built-in, not least the ability to route the calls to terminate somewhere, there is a charge to pay for these features. This is typically levied on a per call basis, as the industry has been used to funding these from revenue share. Some providers are however now offering simple inclusive rental deals. In all cases the actual price paid would depend on which particular services were used and on what scale.

When it comes to HMRC and the like we are talking about massive contracts for complete packages of telecoms services at enormous discounts from standard list prices. This may even be part of a larger contract for a complete call centre operation.

We must however stick to the point:
WITH CALL-BACKS OFFERED TO ALL THOSE WHO PAY EXTRA TO CALL 0845 NUMBERS, IT WOULD BE CHEAPER FOR HMRC TO SWITCH TO 0345.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Dave on Sep 15th, 2010 at 12:01am
Whilst the issue of long wait times to speak to an agent may always exist at certain times, with all the technology available these days it would surely not be beyond the imagination to tell callers what the average wait time is at any given moment.

Perhaps any introduction of 0800 numbers could be mirrored with 03 numbers. I do fear that, whilst this is in theory this allows landline callers to call for free, and mobile callers not to incur a premium, it does require callers to know which number to use. I remain to be convinced that this would work.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Trenod on Sep 22nd, 2010 at 6:53pm
SilentCallsVictim: Vodafone claims in its online forum (in response to complaints) that it has no choice but to charge for 0800 numbers because BT charges it a premium for connecting calls to those numbers. But I still reckon the big mobile companies could afford to pay for them, at least at certain times (e.g. for a couple of hours in the evening or at weekends). It makes me wonder how giffgaff, a brand new network, can afford to give them free to its members at all times... but as you say, time will tell if that will be sustainable for them in the long term. That's why I'm hesitant about joining giffgaff. They're not even a year old yet and I want to see if they manage to stick to the principles with which they began.

Incidentally, as calls to 03 numbers are inclusive I wonder why BT insists on listing them separately on the phone bill (i.e. not under the section titled: 'Your free calls - included with your calling plan')? I called the NHS Direct 03 number last month, just to test it, and got a recorded message, but even that number is listed separately on our latest bill (with a charge of £0.00).

Have you ever worked in telecoms, SCV? You seem to have a lot of technical knowledge in the field. I find your posts interesting, but sometimes longwinded and difficult to follow.

By the way, I believe Sky only allows 'free' calls to 0870, not 0845 (unlike BT, TalkTalk and Post Office, which allow both). Which is odd - if, as you say, BT loses money on allowing such calls to 0870 but not 0845.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 23rd, 2010 at 8:03am

Trenod wrote on Sep 22nd, 2010 at 6:53pm:
Have you ever worked in telecoms, SCV?

My dear Trenod

We clearly both try to engage in the issues in detail. It is the consequence of this engagement, making contacts on all sides and conducting research to gain a comprehensive understanding, so as to determine what improvements could readily be made, which may create the impression that I am an "insider" - I am not. I am sorry if you find that if I sometimes try to offer too much. I admit to sometimes writing comments only for the benefit of those with some detailed understanding. It is sadly not possible to fully discuss these complex matters in a way that a beginner can join in at any point. The forum must be open to all, however it is inevitable that not everyone will wish to follow every discussion.

I do try to stick to the topic of each thread in this forum, so I must ask you to look around the forum to find the answers to some of your questions and points.


I will quickly address the points on 0870, as there could be said to be some relevance.

From 1 August 2009 revenue sharing on 0870 ceased. Anyone who does not now charge for calls to 0870 numbers in the same way as calls to geographic numbers is profiteering. BT only lost money for a short period, as it anticipated the change with 0870 by 6½ months, by making both 0870 and 0845 calls inclusive in its call plans from January 2009.

Removal of revenue sharing from 0845 may be one of the options presented in a further Ofcom consultation due to be launched at the end of October. If so, there will be much discussion before a decision is taken and then an extended period before it could come into effect. I am very keen to press the issue of the quick and easy move from 0845 to 0345 now, before the idea of 0845 becoming OK comes onto the agenda and stalls progress.

I believe that by including 0845 in packages, along with 0870, BT was anticipating both ranges going the same way. The timescales are however very different. Any further discussion about what may be in the forthcoming Ofcom consultation currently belongs in the "Ofcom consultation - Review of non-geo calls" thread.


Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Alwyn on Oct 8th, 2010 at 4:39pm

sherbert wrote on Sep 13th, 2010 at 7:42pm:
Most people would probably agree with you SCV, however what is completely unacceptable is people being kept on hold for ages and ages and having to pay for that luxuary.


I have a geographic inclusive tarriff.  This means that I don't want to use 0845 numbers.  I'm also unclear about 0345 numbers.  Presumably I have to pay for them.  My biggest objection is that HMRC callers to geographic numbers are now sometimes greeted with a message redirecting the caller to an 0845 number for UK callers and 44 numbers for overseas callers.  If you try to call the 44 number by replacing 44 with 01 you are identified automatically as a UK caller and asked to call an 0845 number, maddening!

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Dave on Oct 8th, 2010 at 5:11pm

Alwyn wrote on Oct 8th, 2010 at 4:39pm:
… I'm also unclear about 0345 numbers.  Presumably I have to pay for them. …

Hello and welcome to SAYNOTO0870.COM.

All numbers which start with 03 are treated in exactly the same way as geographic calls by all landline and mobile providers. They have to do that by regulation. So if you have inclusive 01/02 calls, then you have inclusive 03 calls as well.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Alwyn on Oct 8th, 2010 at 5:33pm

Dave wrote on Oct 8th, 2010 at 5:11pm:

Alwyn wrote on Oct 8th, 2010 at 4:39pm:
… I'm also unclear about 0345 numbers.  Presumably I have to pay for them. …

Hello and welcome to SAYNOTO0870.COM.

All numbers which start with 03 are treated in exactly the same way as geographic calls by all landline and mobile providers. They have to do that by regulation. So if you have inclusive 01/02 calls, then you have inclusive 03 calls as well.

Excellent.  I've listened to the radio prog but it doesn't say where are they to be found for HMRC?  Do you just replace 0845 with 0345 followed by the rest of the number?

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Dave on Oct 8th, 2010 at 5:44pm

Alwyn wrote on Oct 8th, 2010 at 5:33pm:
Excellent.  I've listened to the radio prog but it doesn't say where are they to be found for HMRC?  Do you just replace 0845 with 0345 followed by the rest of the number?

It requires HMRC to bring the 0345 numbers into use.

But yes, all the numbers beginning with 0345 are set aside for the users of the respective 0845 numbers. For example, Cambridgeshire Constabulary moved from 0845 456 4564 to 0345 456 4564. So the Tax Credits helpline which is presently on 0845 300 3900 could become 0345 300 3900.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 8th, 2010 at 6:02pm

Alwyn wrote on Oct 8th, 2010 at 5:33pm:
Excellent.  I've listened to the radio prog but it doesn't say where are they to be found for HMRC?  Do you just replace 0845 with 0345 followed by the rest of the number?

Yes, but ... when it happens. It is a wonderfully simple solution which we are campaigning to be adopted.

Once people come to understand that 03 numbers are charged in the same way as 01/02 numbers, this will be a very easy idea to follow.

If one major national organisation were to do this, then public pressure would make it very easy for others to be persuaded to follow.

A strong argument in favour of this idea is presented here - "Government wastes money by charging for public services".


Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Dave on Jan 7th, 2011 at 12:10pm
Low Income Tax Reform Group is calling on HMRC to change its telephone policy which its says causes its most vulnerable users to bear a disproportionate cost:

http://www.litrg.org.uk/News/2011/telephone-call-charges%E2%80%93time-for-hmrc-to-act


Quote:
For several years LITRG has been campaigning for HMRC to adopt a telephone policy which does not involve the most vulnerable of their customers in disproportionate cost. Now the telephone regulator, Ofcom, looks set to force public sector bodies to adopt policies that give protection to the poorest.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Heinz on Jan 8th, 2011 at 8:38am

Dave wrote on Jan 7th, 2011 at 12:10pm:
Low Income Tax Reform Group is calling on HMRC to change its telephone policy which its says causes its most vulnerable users to bear a disproportionate cost:

http://www.litrg.org.uk/News/2011/telephone-call-charges%E2%80%93time-for-hmrc-to-act


Quote:
For several years LITRG has been campaigning for HMRC to adopt a telephone policy which does not involve the most vulnerable of their customers in disproportionate cost. Now the telephone regulator, Ofcom, looks set to force public sector bodies to adopt policies that give protection to the poorest.


If you're into irony, the litrg website's contact us page contains a classic:


Quote:
We like to hear from you

But we cannot always promise to enter into correspondence with you, due to our limited resources.

If you are a pensioner and you would prefer to speak to someone regarding your query you can phone the TaxHelp for Older People helpline on 0845 601 3321

When the helpline is not manned, leave your name and number and someone will call you back.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jan 8th, 2011 at 10:52am

Heinz wrote on Jan 8th, 2011 at 8:38am:
If you're into irony, the litrg website's contact us page contains a classic:

This looks (and is) very foolish.

In fact, T.O.P. publishes a geo number (01308 488066) on their website - http://www.taxvol.org.uk/. Older people with BT lines who have not got wise to the fact that they probably should be subscribing to the Anytime Call Plan would (for now) call more cheaply on the 0845 number.

LITRG also promotes another advice service - TaxAid and quotes its Old 0845 number. Last October, Taxaid migrated to the equivalent 0345 number.

I would suggest that the helplines in question are probably doing the right thing (for now - 0845s will have to go altogether once BT is allowed to charge for them properly). The errors and omissions on the LITRG website do however need to be corrected.

Title: HMRC will be switching on one of its 0345 numbers
Post by Dave on Oct 22nd, 2011 at 9:47pm
I can't quite believe this!

It was announced in a written Parliamentary question on Wednesday that HMRC will be activating the counterpart 0345 number for the Tax Credits Helpline: 0345 300 3900. This number currently rings and is answered with a message saying that the number dialled is not yet in service.

Whilst I don't see alternatives as a long-term solution, this is nonetheless a first step in the right direction. DWP has yet to catch on.

Let us hope that this is warmly received and that it spurs HMRC on to swap all its 0845 numbers for 03 ones.

Suffice to say that SAYNOTO0870.COM will help spread the word of the new number.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Dave on Oct 22nd, 2011 at 9:58pm
One other quick thing.

A FOI response says that UK geographic numbers published for overseas calls do in fact go through to the same teams as the Business Rate premium 0845 numbers.

This is (hopefully) soon to be immaterial now if the 0345 numbers are activated.

Title: HMRC has switched on 0345 number for Tax Credits
Post by Dave on Dec 12th, 2011 at 8:38pm
HMRC has finally switched on the 0345 alternative to its Tax Credits Helpline. The alternative 0345 300 9300 can be used instead of 0845 300 9300.

This is a first step. There are quite a few other 0845 helplines that are operated by HMRC that don't have 0345 counterparts. DWP and its agency JobCentre Plus continue to only make available Business Rate 0845 numbers.

Title: Re: HMRC has switched on 0345 number for Tax Credits
Post by kasg on Dec 13th, 2011 at 6:01pm

Dave wrote on Dec 12th, 2011 at 8:38pm:
HMRC has finally switched on the 0345 alternative to its Tax Credits Helpline. The alternative 0345 300 9300 can be used instead of 0845 300 9300.


http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/tc-new-number.htm

Quote:
The exact cost of calling this number can be checked by calling your telephone service provider.


What an annoying statement when they could have made it absolutely clear. Especially annoying if you have to use a business rate number to contact your telephone service provider!

Title: Re: HMRC has switched on 0345 number for Tax Credits
Post by Dave on Dec 13th, 2011 at 6:24pm

kasg wrote on Dec 13th, 2011 at 6:01pm:

Dave wrote on Dec 12th, 2011 at 8:38pm:
HMRC has finally switched on the 0345 alternative to its Tax Credits Helpline. The alternative 0345 300 9300 can be used instead of 0845 300 9300.


http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/tc-new-number.htm

Quote:
The exact cost of calling this number can be checked by calling your telephone service provider.


What an annoying statement when they could have made it absolutely clear. Especially annoying if you have to use a business rate number to contact your telephone service provider!

Indeed. It really should say that calls cost no more than the price of a geographic call and will form part of inclusive minutes where applicable. These rules apply to landlines, mobiles and payphones.

Title: Re: HMRC has switched on 0345 number for Tax Credits
Post by Heinz on Dec 18th, 2011 at 9:57am

Dave wrote on Dec 13th, 2011 at 6:24pm:
Indeed. It really should say that calls cost no more than the price of a geographic call and will form part of inclusive minutes where applicable. These rules apply to landlines, mobiles and payphones.

No, It really should say that calls cost exactly the same as a geographic call and will form part of inclusive minutes where applicable.  These rules apply to landlines, mobiles and payphones.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by bazzerfewi on Dec 18th, 2011 at 4:26pm
It is very anoying when I read such statements, these are government departments and as such they should ensure that all statements are politically correct.

How can they deliver a correct service if they can't even adhere to rules and regulations from one of the government departments

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Dec 18th, 2011 at 4:51pm
If we are looking to get anal on this, there is a wide difference between what may be factually accurate (which usually admits a very wide range of possibilities), what is helpful to readers (who are likely to be labouring under misapprehensions), what is politic (failure to refer to the cost of calling 0845 numbers as compared with that of calling 0345) and political correctness (avoiding offence to minorities, such as those who can call 0845 numbers more cheaply than 0345).

Dave was actually correct, as the Ofcom regulation does cover the possibility that there could be different rates for calling various types of geographic numbers. There is no single geographic rate by regulation and although it is very rare for their to be separate rates for local calls, it is not unknown and not prohibited.

Where there is a cheaper rate for local calls, this does not have to be applied to calls to 03 numbers. When Talk Talk recently offered local calls only as inclusive - this offer has now been withdrawn, it was however persuaded to add 03 to the definition of what is "local", for everybody.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers! Worse NOW!!
Post by daguerrotype on Feb 2nd, 2012 at 11:25am
Well - we are over a year on and not only are hter no 0345 numbers, but if you use an alternative 01/02 number an automated voice comes in announcing you haven't called from abroad and cuts you off

Scandalous!!

T

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers! Worse NOW!!
Post by Dave on Feb 2nd, 2012 at 11:29am

daguerrotype wrote on Feb 2nd, 2012 at 11:25am:
Well - we are over a year on and not only are hter no 0345 numbers, but if you use an alternative 01/02 number an automated voice comes in announcing you haven't called from abroad and cuts you off

Scandalous!!

T

The Tax Credits Helpline can be contacted on 0345 300 3900. This is the only 0345 number that has been activated (apart from the equivalent textphone number that is).

Which alternative have you used as it would be helpful to know?

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers! Worse NOW!!
Post by NGMsGhost on Feb 4th, 2012 at 8:03pm

daguerrotype wrote on Feb 2nd, 2012 at 11:25am:
Well - we are over a year on and not only are hter no 0345 numbers, but if you use an alternative 01/02 number an automated voice comes in announcing you haven't called from abroad and cuts you off

Scandalous!!


As I just reported in the other thread in this section of the forum I also received the message that I had called the overseas number when I was calling from the UK before being cut off when calling the Self Assessment Helpline on 0161 931 9070 and the Online Services Helpdesk on 0161 930 8445 at the start of this week.

I then redialled each of them with the 141 Prefix added to withhold my CLI whereupon my call connected successfully to each of these so called "helplines".

If their telecoms operator is genuinely working on bringing the 03 numbers in to effect "soon" as their staff have been trained to tell you in response to any complaint about the lack of 03 numbers and use of 0845 numbers then why exactly have they only now decided to block people calling the 01 numbers in order to squeeze a few more pounds of revenue out of callers who read this site and call them on their 01 or 02 numbers??? :-/ ::)

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by johnrambo18 on Feb 9th, 2012 at 9:53am
I too have just come across a ruse from the Inland revenue to force people into using the 0845 number. Saynoto0870 lists an alternative number of 01355 359022 for many tax related matters. However this is now answered by an automated voice message stating the number is only for overseas callers. Clearly they are recognizising the source of the call. The solution is to redial with the prefix 141 so they cannot pick up your number....

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by johnrambo18 on Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:10pm
update on calling Tax office/inland revenue/HMIT.  The published number for calling from abroad is now intercepted by an operator who asks where you are calling from. If one is truthful and gives a UK address, you are told to redial using the 0845 number, so it looks like they are plugging any loopholes and forcing callers to use this number...

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Dave on Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:13pm

johnrambo18 wrote on Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:10pm:
update on calling Tax office/inland revenue/HMIT.  The published number for calling from abroad is now intercepted by an operator who asks where you are calling from. If one is truthful and gives a UK address, you are told to redial using the 0845 number, so it looks like they are plugging any loopholes and forcing callers to use this number...

Hello. I added a note to a lot of HMRC entries recently which says "This is “overseas” number. Withhold your num (using 141) when calling from UK or else the call will be blocked. Expect to be told off for not using premium number!".

If this doesn't appear on the entry you used, then please can you let me know what entry it is (i.e. which 0845 and 01/02 number it contains) and I will add a note to it?

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by NGMsGhost on Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:59pm

Dave wrote on Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:13pm:
Expect to be told off for not using premium number!".


Dave,

Many thanks for updating the entries to indicate that it is necessary to dial a 141 prefix code to withhold your number before dialling most HMRC alternative numbers.

However I must just point out that it is not correct that you should expect to be told off for not using the 0845 number as in my experience of making three or four calls this year to two different HMRC contact lines the staff have no idea at all that you have not called them using the 0845 number and/or that you have blocked the transmission of your CLI to HMRC.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Dave on Mar 8th, 2012 at 1:23pm

NGMsGhost wrote on Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:59pm:

Dave wrote on Mar 8th, 2012 at 12:13pm:
Expect to be told off for not using premium number!".


Dave,

Many thanks for updating the entries to indicate that it is necessary to dial a 141 prefix code to withhold your number before dialling most HMRC alternative numbers.

However I must just point out that it is not correct that you should expect to be told off for not using the 0845 number as in my experience of making three or four calls this year to two different HMRC contact lines the staff have no idea at all that you have not called them using the 0845 number and/or that you have blocked the transmission of your CLI to HMRC.

If you or anyone can think of a better way of putting it, then please post it.

There is a limit on the number of characters and in some cases I have had to abbreviate certain words. I did this of "don't be surprised if you are told off for not using premium number" although it is more characters.

To my knowledge, you are the first person to report that callers are only not told off; many people have said that they are, hence the use of the word "expect". The fact that chastisement was not issued does not mean that the agent wasn't aware that you were misbehaving.

Where a caller is told off, then the agent must have found out or have a suspicion of deviance. The most obvious reason for this must surely be that they are notified which number the caller has come in on and perhaps where they are ringing from.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by NGMsGhost on Mar 8th, 2012 at 1:52pm

Dave wrote on Mar 8th, 2012 at 1:23pm:
To my knowledge, you are the first person to report that callers are only not told off; many people have said that they are, hence the use of the word "expect". The fact that chastisement was not issued does not mean that the agent wasn't aware that you were misbehaving.

Where a caller is told off, then the agent must have found out or have a suspicion of deviance. The most obvious reason for this must surely be that they are notified which number the caller has come in on and perhaps where they are ringing from.


After having to withhold my CLI to get through I mentioned my annoyance at their phone policy to the people I was speaking to on both the HMRC tax return enquiries line and web support tech team and neither had any idea I had not called them on the regular 0845 number.

I have been ticked off with some other organisations for calling their geographic number but this hasn't happened with HMRC.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Dave on Mar 8th, 2012 at 1:57pm

NGMsGhost wrote on Mar 8th, 2012 at 1:52pm:

Dave wrote on Mar 8th, 2012 at 1:23pm:
To my knowledge, you are the first person to report that callers are only not told off; many people have said that they are, hence the use of the word "expect". The fact that chastisement was not issued does not mean that the agent wasn't aware that you were misbehaving.

Where a caller is told off, then the agent must have found out or have a suspicion of deviance. The most obvious reason for this must surely be that they are notified which number the caller has come in on and perhaps where they are ringing from.


After having to withhold my CLI to get through I mentioned my annoyance at their phone policy to the people I was speaking to on both the HMRC tax return enquiries line and web support tech team and neither had any idea I had not called them on the regular 0845 number.

I have been ticked off with some other organisations for calling their geographic number but this hasn't happened with HMRC.

As I say, that is not what I've been told by people who've called HMRC. Your experience must be the exception to the rule.  :-?

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by NGMsGhost on Mar 8th, 2012 at 2:24pm

Dave wrote on Mar 8th, 2012 at 1:57pm:
To my knowledge, you are the first person to report that callers are only not told off; many people have said that they are, hence the use of the word "expect". The fact that chastisement was not issued does not mean that the agent wasn't aware that you were misbehaving.

Where a caller is told off, then the agent must have found out or have a suspicion of deviance. The most obvious reason for this must surely be that they are notified which number the caller has come in on and perhaps where they are ringing from.


I have only been calling two national helplines (general enquiries line and website/internet helpline).  It appears on these lines the staff do not know the 0845 number has not been called.  I suspect that in the individual tax offices the position is different and that they are able to differentiate direct dialled calls from those distributed over the 0845 NTS network.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Mar 8th, 2012 at 9:25pm
When I enquired into this issue some time ago, it appeared that a variety of situations existed. I am not aware that HMRC has a consistent policy.

There are some cases where agents see the CLI of the calling number, so using 141 may deal with that if they are also aware that one has dialled the geographic number.

There are other cases where the geographic number goes through to a different team, so an enquiry about the origin of the call may be appropriate.

There are other cases where it would appear that there is no distinction, nor enquiry.

Where automatic interception of UK originated calls is in place this is likely to be based on the location information (not the CLI) so 141 will make no difference.

To get on top of this issue, all comments will have to be specific by giving the number called.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by kasg on Jul 14th, 2012 at 1:52pm
It was rather disappointing that in a feature on renewing your Tax Credits on BBC News this morning, the telephone number was given as 0845 300 3900 at all times. This is not the number now advertised by HMRC so they really should have checked their information. I have contacted them pointing out the error.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jul 14th, 2012 at 3:29pm

kasg wrote on Jul 14th, 2012 at 1:52pm:
It was rather disappointing that in a feature on renewing your Tax Credits on BBC News this morning, the telephone number was given as 0845 300 3900 at all times. This is not the number now advertised by HMRC so they really should have checked their information. I have contacted them pointing out the error.

Thanks for this.

I have just called the old number. It works, but includes a message advising that calling 0345 300 3900 may be cheaper.  (I know of no case where it is not cheaper on a Saturday, but that is perhaps getting picky, as there are a few cases where a weekday call to the 0845 number is cheaper.)

The only problem with the message is that it is only delivered after 60 seconds of other messages. I suspect that this is only because of the way that the system is configured. The earlier messages were relevant for a particular period of time only, and it may be that they therefore take priority.

The questions to ask HMRC are as follows:

- Why does it continue to impose a Service Charge on other callers

- Why does it not declare its Service Charge, now it knows that it will be compelled to do so in the near future?

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by catj on Jul 20th, 2012 at 11:52pm
TV adverts for 'Tax Credits deadline' give HMRC phone number as...

0345  300  3900

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jul 21st, 2012 at 2:10am

catj wrote on Jul 20th, 2012 at 11:52pm:
TV adverts for 'Tax Credits deadline' give HMRC phone number as...

0345  300  3900

This is the single exception. To deflect proper criticism in respect of the most notable case, HMRC has accepted the principle of migration to equivalent 0345 numbers, but has failed to proceed beyond this particular case.

Tax Credits is the one area where HMRC, rather than DWP, is involved in distributing benefits. Even if HMRC is content to continue to itself benefit from Service Charges imposed on other taxpayers, this should at least set an example to DWP!

Some published references to campaigning activity on this matter are found at the following links:

http://davidhicksonmedia.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/at-last-hmrc-responds-to-call-to-adopt.html

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2012-05-21a.108353.h#c29582

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Ian01 on Jun 23rd, 2015 at 11:19pm

Finally, many years later, HMRC will decommission all 0845 numbers on 30 June 2015:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/changes-to-hmrc-telephone-numbers


Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by derrick on Jun 24th, 2015 at 10:14am

Ian01 wrote on Jun 23rd, 2015 at 11:19pm:
Finally, many years later, HMRC will decommission all 0845 numbers on 30 June 2015:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/changes-to-hmrc-telephone-numbers



Only after being forced to by EU Directive and then they are waiting till the death to fully comply!

.

Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by Ian01 on Jun 24th, 2015 at 1:06pm

Which EU Directive was that?


Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by derrick on Jun 25th, 2015 at 10:17am

Ian01 wrote on Jun 24th, 2015 at 1:06pm:
Which EU Directive was that?


Not quite sure, Consumer Contracts Legislation  2013?  (and it might not be), but there is some legislation, that requires companies to remove these numbers from CS and revert to 01/02/03 numbers by 01st July 2015, hence why I said, "waiting till the death to fully comply!"

This might help http://www.callcentrehelper.com/a-quick-guide-to-the-0845-and-0870-number-changes-43473.htm
From that example, "From 13th June 2014, it will be a legal requirement that these numbers are no longer provided for customer helplines. They must be switched to an 01, 02 or 03 number."

More info here, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-cuts-off-costly-calls

HMRC use Customer Helplines and there is a cut off point of 01st July 2015, do you think they are doing it for the benefit of their "customers"? No they are doing it because they are being compelled to, the same as DWP, other state organisations and banks etc.

I do not think you need the above info as you already know it, but Government agencies would not be switching to 0345 if the EU had not issued the Consumer Contracts Legislation  2013, I do not want to play semantics, the change is down to the EU.


.


Title: Re: HMRC, switch on your 0345 numbers!
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 25th, 2015 at 11:13am
Sorry Derrick

In the case of HMRC the move away from 0845 came from involvement I had in a HMRC working group in 2009, pressure from the Treasury select committee (through an enquiry to which I contributed, as well as briefing committee members in person) and ultimately from the Public Accounts Committee, to whom the commitment was made.

All of this took place before the Cabinet Office guidance was issued and before the Consumer Contracts Regulations (which derived from the EU Directive and did not cover government services) came into force.

The HMRC move to 03 was completed a long time ago. All that is happening now is that those who still have old paperwork and call the old numbers will hear "number unobtainable" rather than a "free to caller" message advising them to re-dial. Large organisations have to go through a process of winding down out-of-service numbers which continues long after the essential switch has been made. There will be many who have switched, or are about to do so, who will be at earlier stages of the process than HMRC for some time to come.


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