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Message started by idb on Dec 8th, 2010 at 3:42am

Title: FOI response - TfL
Post by idb on Dec 8th, 2010 at 3:42am
Your request has been considered under the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and I can confirm that TfL does hold the information you require.

1 - Please confirm the underlying geographic telephone number for 0843 222 1234.

TfL is not obliged to supply this part of the information you have requested, as it is subject to the following statutory exemption to the right of access to information:

•      Section 43(2) – commercial interests

TfL is applying this exemption because disclosure would affect our business with our suppliers (Journeycall Ltd, Novacroft, and Eckoh). We pay suppliers depending on the number of calls we send them. If the 01 or 02 numbers are distributed, and the public use these numbers to call into the centres, TfL will need to pay the suppliers for taking a call. If callers dialled the wrong departments, TfL would pay the supplier for the initial call, as well as paying other suppliers if that call had to be re-rerouted or transferred to another company. Without calls coming through our central numbers, we are not able to tell how many calls our suppliers should be billing us for.

The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned. TfL recognises that publishing the information would be beneficial to callers, in that they might be able to save on the cost of calls to our service. However, publishing these numbers would not only affect our business, but also the service provided to customers. Allowing customer to dial the geographical numbers directly would mean that they would not receive self service options or the opportunity to select the type of enquiry they wish to make. This would mean that calls would require additional transfers, with additional waiting time and a reduced quality in service. We also sometimes change the geographic numbers, for example if contact centres are evacuated or subject to industrial action, and having a single non-geographic number means that we can ensure that in such circumstances calls continue to be taken and routed correctly. On the balance of these factors we consider that the public interest favours withholding the numbers you have requested.

2 - Please provide the telephone number for international callers to make travel-related enquiries.

Callers from international locations can still use the 0843 number by removing the zero and replacing with +44 however, on some international networks this may not work. We have tested this across a number of European locations including Germany, France and Spain and the number works well. However, if your roaming network provider does not allow this, we would suggest alternative, more cost effective means of Journey Planning via our website.

Continued/...


Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by idb on Dec 8th, 2010 at 3:51am
/...

3 - What evidence, research and other relevant data was obtained from:
         
a)       The telephone regulator, Ofcom;
         
b)       The service provider(s) of the non-geographic number 0843 2221234;
           
c)        Any other source;


relating to the ability and cost of terminating internationally-originated calls to the non-geographic number 0843 222 1234 prior to the introduction of this number.

The percentage of callers using the Travel Information Call Centre from abroad is fairly low in relation to the high volume of calls we receive in a year from the UK. We are unable to control the costs of terminating internationally originated calls as this is dependent on the local and international network providers and are subject to change. There are still effective alternative means to interact with the Journey Planner service whilst abroad via the internet. As stated above, we tested a number of different European locations with the service provider in terms of access.

The transition to a 0843 number has been necessitated by operational issues that require the extra capacity offered by the 0843 number.

The number of calls to TfL travel information continues to increase and is still rising as a consequence of Oyster pay as you go being extended to National Rail.
There is a capacity restriction on 020 numbers as it is correlated directly to the number of channels we have in our telephony system. This limits the number of calls we can handle at any one time. On the contrary, by moving onto 0843 number we have opened up this capacity using network routing, thus enabling us to enhance our at-once call handling to better serve our customers fast and efficiently. Additionally, the new non-geographic number will not only provide much needed extra capacity but will also allow callers to get through (even at the busiest of times) and their query dealt with immediately during major incidents or at times of severe travel disruption.

Moreover, TfL’s strategy also aims at allowing our customers to simply call one number to reach a variety of services e.g. Oyster helpline, Travel Information Contact Centre (TICC), Buses etc.  The new 0843 number connects customers to an automated natural language service that provides 24-hour travel information on all our services. Customers will no longer have to wait to speak to someone to find out the information they need. That does not mean our customers will no longer get the personal touch of an actual human being because they still have the option of speaking to an adviser.

The natural language service, which is only possible with an 08xx number (it cannot work on 020 number), has freed up capacity within our call centres, which means on average, the wait time for an agent has been reduced ensuring the customer reduced handling time.  It is this added value that we aim for because all accrued savings will be passed on to you - our customers - through better service.

We are fully aware of the cost implications, especially for mobile phone users, but our customers still have access to other options that are free such as the TfL website, stations, maps etc. You can also sign up for other TfL travel tools including free email and text alerts at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/livetravelnews/mobileservices/

[...] [end]

TfL or one of its subsidiary companies states that is the copyright owner of the above text.

Fair use doctrine asserted [17 U.S.C. § 107]


Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Dec 8th, 2010 at 11:58am

Quote:
There is a capacity restriction on 020 numbers as it is correlated directly to the number of channels we have in our telephony system. This limits the number of calls we can handle at any one time. On the contrary, by moving onto 0843 number we have opened up this capacity using network routing, thus enabling us to enhance our at-once call handling to better serve our customers fast and efficiently. Additionally, the new non-geographic number will not only provide much needed extra capacity but will also allow callers to get through (even at the busiest of times) and their query dealt with immediately during major incidents or at times of severe travel disruption.

It would perhaps be interesting to learn of what that capacity limit is.  :-?


As this FoI response on WhatDoTheyKnow says, TfL is paid 1.5 pence per minute for calls received to the 0843 number:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/tfl_helpline_0843_222_1234#incoming-129147

It also states "We do not hold information on revenue of suppliers and providers." Perhaps we could ascertain whether this was ever taken into consideration during planning.


Quote:
3.0 You quote on your website "You pay no more than 5p per minute if calling from a BT landline. There may be a connection charge. Charges from mobiles or other landline providers may vary." What do you base this statement on? BT have several different tariffs based on discounted and un-discounted contracts.

3.0.1 Do you therefore agree that the statement in 3.0 is misleading and therefore an untruth.


We do not agree that this is misleading or an untruth. Legal and external advertising bodies advised us on this wording. The wording we provide is cautionary and implies that the customer should check what they will be charged with their provider.

The wording also implies that BT is the norm, what with the "Charges from mobiles or other landline providers may vary". As such, I consider this to be highly misleading.


Calls to 0843 g6 numbers, of which TfL's is, generate an extra 4.5 pence per minute in termination charges, over that of a 020 (or any 01, 02, 03) number. Thus, taking into account the cash-back TfL receives on the service, the network services cost around 3 pence per minute.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by idb on Feb 8th, 2011 at 12:05pm
The internal review of your Freedom of Information request has been completed. The review was conducted by an internal review panel (‘the Panel’) in accordance with TfL’s internal review procedure.

The Panel assessed TfL’s application of section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act and agreed that it was engaged since the release of this information would be likely to prejudice TfL’s commercial interests.

The Panel thought it would be helpful to explain that, when a member of the public dials the 0843 number, the Oyster Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology then routes their call to one of 22 different geographic telephone numbers across multiple sites, depending on the nature of the enquiry. Each of these call centres is run by one of several different suppliers on behalf of TfL, each of whom may deal with different aspects of London travel (e.g. bus enquiries, London Underground, refunds etc). Each supplier is paid according to the number of calls handled.

It is important that calls are routed to the correct area as this is tied in with revenue paid to suppliers. If the numbers were distributed, and the public used these numbers to call into the centres, TfL would have to pay the supplier for taking the call. However, if callers dial the wrong department, TfL would not only have to pay the supplier who initially received the call, but also pay any other suppliers involved if that call had to be re-rerouted or transferred to another company. The central number allows TfL to determine how many calls have actually been received and ensure that we are only billed for the correct amount, particularly that we are not billed multiple times for the same call.

In addition, if TfL could not route calls via its IVR system, all customer service agents would have to receive significant additional training at TfL’s expense. They would have to be trained in handling and routing a much wider variety of query, which would greatly add to TfL’s costs for providing the service.

With regard to the point about TfL running a geographic number for international callers in addition to the 0843 number, this would have a further impact on TfL’s commercial interests. There would be a significant cost in running the IVR technology concurrently on a geographic number, which would require the diversion of TfL’s limited resources from other areas.

In considering the impact that providing this information would have on TfL’s commercial interests, I think it is relevant to note that the 0843 number does not generate income for TfL. It does help defray some of the cost of running the telephone query service but the savings would be reduced, the efficiencies lost and the cost of running the service commensurately higher if TfL were to make geographic numbers available.

Having established that the exemption is engaged, the Panel assessed the public interest in disclosing the geographic numbers and agreed that there is a public interest in providing customers with a choice of number to dial, particularly in terms of possible cost savings when calling our service. The Panel noted, however, that the importance of this factor is mitigated by the fact that TfL makes travel information available without cost through other sources, notably via the TfL internet and directly at its stations and other services.

The Panel assessed the public interest in maintaining the exemption and agreed that it is in the public interest for TfL to manage expenditure and where possible make efficiency savings to protect investment in vital public transport programmes. Over the last few years TfL has delivered one of the largest efficiency programmes anywhere in the UK public sector. The reduction in costs brought about by the use of the 0843 number contributes to TfL being able to manage its budget effectively.

Furthermore, an additional benefit of the use of the 0843 number and the IVR system is that TfL has the ability to ensure that calls are still taken and routed correctly even when geographic numbers are changed or different call centres are being used. For instance, in the event of the evacuation of a call centre or industrial action, TfL may be obliged to use different geographical locations without having a chance to take all appropriate steps to inform the public. Not only is there a risk of additional cost to TfL for callers dialling in to unstaffed phone lines, but the public interest in provision of an uninterrupted service would be compromised.

On this basis, the Panel agreed that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information requested.    

The Panel went on to examine TfL’s lack of response to your question 3 and agreed that in failing to answer this question TfL contravened the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. I can now confirm that based on the Panel’s understanding of this issue, namely that there can be problems with accessing 0843 numbers when calling from abroad, no research was undertaken on this specific issue and no discussions took place with Ofcom or the service provider.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Feb 8th, 2011 at 7:22pm

idb wrote on Feb 8th, 2011 at 12:05pm:
The internal review of your Freedom of Information request has been completed. The review was conducted by an internal review panel (‘the Panel’) in accordance with TfL’s internal review procedure.

The review was clearly properly conducted and TfL is content to be offering a chargeable service to callers.

Now is the time for it to respond properly to the demand for transparency, in the way outlined by Ofcom in its current consultation. The worthless reference to a single atypical telephone service provider on its website should be replaced by the statement:

"TfL levies a charge of 5p per minute for calls to 0843 222 1234.
Your telephone company will add its own charge to give a total cost of up to 40p per minute."


TfL is happy to admit to its positive and deliberate decision to impose a charge for this service. It offers clear and coherent arguments for having done so. There is no reason for it to use a single atypical example, from the only company that is not allowed to add its own charge. The information is now incorrect anyway! - BT charges more than 5p per minute - 5.105p to be precise.

Mr Madder offers no basis for his decision to refer the matter to the ICO (see this comment) I can see no reason for doing so.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by idb on Feb 9th, 2011 at 1:42am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Feb 8th, 2011 at 7:22pm:
Mr Madder offers no basis for his decision to refer the matter to the ICO (see this comment) I can see no reason for doing so.
I am as yet undecided as to whether to refer my request to the ICO on th basis of the application of the usual s43 exemption. Previous referrals to the ICO have generally been pointless, and I suspect this one would end with the same result. I'll ponder over it until the weekend.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by derrick on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:45am

idb wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 1:42am:

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Feb 8th, 2011 at 7:22pm:
Mr Madder offers no basis for his decision to refer the matter to the ICO (see this comment) I can see no reason for doing so.
I am as yet undecided as to whether to refer my request to the ICO on th basis of the application of the usual s43 exemption. Previous referrals to the ICO have generally been pointless, and I suspect this one would end with the same result. I'll ponder over it until the weekend.



You don't ask,you don't get  ;)

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by loddon on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:50am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Feb 8th, 2011 at 7:22pm:
Now is the time for it to respond properly to the demand for transparency, in the way outlined by Ofcom in its current consultation. The worthless reference to a single atypical telephone service provider on its website should be replaced by the statement:

"TfL levies a charge of 5p per minute for calls to 0843 222 1234.
Your telephone company will add its own charge to give a total cost of up to 40p per minute."


This points to the deception in the majority of thinking on this subject.  Lack of "Transparency" is not the main problem nor is "Transparency", as proposed, the whole answer.    It still does not address the fundamental dishonesty in the charging mechanism for 08 numbers.

It is reported in an earlier post on this thread that Tfl get 1.5 pence per minute from calls to their 0843 number.   So the truth is that Tfl's charge is 1.5 ppm; NOT 5 ppm.   The Tfl Telco is charging Tfl 3.5ppm   for providing this service to Tfl and it is not proposed that there is an honest and open declaration of this charge which Tfl should be paying.   Certainly this additional charge should not be imposed on the caller.   If Tfl want to charge for their information service over the telephone that is one thing.   But it is fundamentally dishonest to deceptively impose their Telco charges on the callers.

The callers have no opportunity to negotiate a better price or to seek better value for money.   There is no incentive for Tfl to seek better value for money because they are not paying the bill.   The Telco have no incentive to offer better value for money as they are not in negotiation with the callers.   Neither Tfl nor the Telco have any incentive to keep costs down by providing a faster service and shorter calls thereby lowering the cost.   Indeed the Telco are quite happy to see calls take longer and for queues to get longer because the longer the call the more they make.   This way of doing things is an incentive towards inefficiency.  Longer calls and longer queues are desirable for both Tfl and the Telco because they make more revenue.   Multiply this by the billions of calls made by millions of callers to hundreds of thousands of 08 numbers and you see a massive incentive towards inefficiency across the country and a massive fraud on the telephone calling public who can do nothing to reduce the costs.   There is no true market and therefore there are no market forces acting to drive down costs and increase efficiency.  

All these costs would very quickly be reduced if the "owners" of the 08 numbers had to pay the "service charges".    This is what is fundamentally wrong with the whole concept of 08 numbers and the imposition of these charges on callers.   This is the fundamental issue which Ofcom should be addressing in their "Consultation" on NGNs.   Instead the consultation skates all around this issue as does most of the debate on the subject in this Forum.

If there is to be a charge for HAVING a 08 non-geographic number it should be borne by the recipient not the caller.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Feb 9th, 2011 at 10:48am

loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:50am:
This points to the deception in the majority of thinking on this subject.  Lack of "Transparency" is not the main problem nor is "Transparency", as proposed, the whole answer.    It still does not address the fundamental dishonesty in the charging mechanism for 08 numbers.

This begs the question why single out 08 numbers? What about (in particular) mobile telephone numbers?



loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:50am:
It is reported in an earlier post on this thread that Tfl get 1.5 pence per minute from calls to their 0843 number.   So the truth is that Tfl's charge is 1.5 ppm; NOT 5 ppm.   The Tfl Telco is charging Tfl 3.5ppm   for providing this service to Tfl and it is not proposed that there is an honest and open declaration of this charge which Tfl should be paying.   Certainly this additional charge should not be imposed on the caller.   If Tfl want to charge for their information service over the telephone that is one thing.   But it is fundamentally dishonest to deceptively impose their Telco charges on the callers.

The charge imposed by TfL is in the region of 5 pence per minute as that is what it decided its telco should derive from caller's telcos (OCPs).



loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:50am:
The callers have no opportunity to negotiate a better price or to seek better value for money.   There is no incentive for Tfl to seek better value for money because they are not paying the bill.   The Telco have no incentive to offer better value for money as they are not in negotiation with the callers.   Neither Tfl nor the Telco have any incentive to keep costs down by providing a faster service and shorter calls thereby lowering the cost.   Indeed the Telco are quite happy to see calls take longer and for queues to get longer because the longer the call the more they make.   This way of doing things is an incentive towards inefficiency.  Longer calls and longer queues are desirable for both Tfl and the Telco because they make more revenue.   Multiply this by the billions of calls made by millions of callers to hundreds of thousands of 08 numbers and you see a massive incentive towards inefficiency across the country and a massive fraud on the telephone calling public who can do nothing to reduce the costs.   There is no true market and therefore there are no market forces acting to drive down costs and increase efficiency.

It is down to TfL to seek better value for the 5ppm subsidy it receives.

See this simple diagram I made of the various parties:

Caller ----- <Caller's telco> [X] <Receiver's telco> ----- Receiver

The Caller subscribes to the Caller's telco which it pays and therefore it acts in the interest of its customer (Caller). It makes no sense to suggest that it would ever offer the Receiver anything, i.e. a higher termination fee to pass point [X] as that would be like doing business and offering a better terms to the person you're buying off in return for no benefit. (I put this paragraph in so as to show similarity between this and what happens at the Receiver's end.)

Now consider what happens to the right of point [X] which is the Receiver's responsibility. The Receiver subscribes to the Receiver's telco which it pays and therefore it acts in the interest of its customer (Receiver). It makes no sense to suggest that it would ever offer the Caller anything, i.e. lower termination charges (so as to permit Caller's telco to offer lower call charges) as that would be like doing business and offering a discount to someone who is buying from you giving in return for no lesser service.

Thus, it stands to reason that the Caller's responsibility is to the left of [X] and the Receiver's is to the right.

Please forgive my simple business language; I hope this sort of logical reasoning helps understand what's going on.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by loddon on Feb 9th, 2011 at 10:53am

idb wrote on Feb 8th, 2011 at 12:05pm:


In considering the impact that providing this information would have on TfL’s commercial interests, I think it is relevant to note that the 0843 number does not generate income for TfL. It does help defray some of the cost of running the telephone query service but the savings would be reduced, the efficiencies lost and the cost of running the service commensurately higher if TfL were to make geographic numbers available.


What sort of deception is this?   Of course the 0843 number generates income for Tfl !!!   He contradicts himself in the very next sentence, "It does help defray some of the cost .... "   Why can't they be honest about it?

What they have not taken into account is that in order to defray some of their costs, at the rate of 1.5ppm they are imposing a surcharge on callers of 3.5ppm which the callers cannot avoid or take action to reduce.   This is iniquitous.   Are Tfl only interested in defraying their costs regardless of any additional costs to their callers?

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Feb 9th, 2011 at 11:01am

loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 10:53am:

idb wrote on Feb 8th, 2011 at 12:05pm:


In considering the impact that providing this information would have on TfL’s commercial interests, I think it is relevant to note that the 0843 number does not generate income for TfL. It does help defray some of the cost of running the telephone query service but the savings would be reduced, the efficiencies lost and the cost of running the service commensurately higher if TfL were to make geographic numbers available.


What sort of deception is this?   Of course the 0843 number generates income for Tfl !!!   He contradicts himself in the very next sentence, "It does help defray some of the cost .... "   Why can't they be honest about it?

It would appear to be distinguishment of "income" and offset costs.



loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 10:53am:
What they have not taken into account is that in order to defray some of their costs, at the rate of 1.5ppm they are imposing a surcharge on callers of 3.5ppm which the callers cannot avoid or take action to reduce.   This is iniquitous.   Are Tfl only interested in defraying their costs regardless of any additional costs to their callers?

Well of that 3.5ppm, obviously 0.5ppm goes on termination of the calls to geographic numbers, which was mentioned in the FOI review.

Still not sure why you're treating the 1.5ppm they receive in payments and the 4.5ppm they receive as services in kind though.  :-/

This merely continues to fuel the misunderstanding of these things, much like talking about local and national rate does with call charges.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by loddon on Feb 9th, 2011 at 11:13am

idb wrote on Feb 8th, 2011 at 12:05pm:


With regard to the point about TfL running a geographic number for international callers in addition to the 0843 number, this would have a further impact on TfL’s commercial interests. There would be a significant cost in running the IVR technology concurrently on a geographic number, which would require the diversion of TfL’s limited resources from other areas.


It is very interesting that Tfl does not say that using IVR technology cannot be done on a geographic number, they say only that there would be cost implications.    I raise this point because many companies and suppliers have claimed over the years that they must have an 08 number because they cannot have these facilities with a geographic number.   This is yet another confirmation that such claims are untrue.

Regarding the cost implications for Tfl, I am sceptical about their claim that running the IVR technology on a geographic number would incur a "significant" cost.   I suspect that they could run a geo number in parallel with the 0843 number very easily and at an insignificant cost.   (Are there any members of the Forum with industry knowledge who can comment on this?).    I suspect that what Tfl are really concerned about is the potential loss of revenue if a geo number were to be offered in parallel.   Perhaps this point could be challenged in any follow-up to the FOI response?

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Feb 9th, 2011 at 11:29am

loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 11:13am:

idb wrote on Feb 8th, 2011 at 12:05pm:


With regard to the point about TfL running a geographic number for international callers in addition to the 0843 number, this would have a further impact on TfL’s commercial interests. There would be a significant cost in running the IVR technology concurrently on a geographic number, which would require the diversion of TfL’s limited resources from other areas.


It is very interesting that Tfl does not say that using IVR technology cannot be done on a geographic number, they say only that there would be cost implications.    I raise this point because many companies and suppliers have claimed over the years that they must have an 08 number because they cannot have these facilities with a geographic number.   This is yet another confirmation that such claims are untrue.

The fact that there are many numbers listed in our database which answer with IVRs (often the same as their 08 couterparts) rather nullifies such claims. Whether there is an issue of limited capacity on geographic numbers is another matter, although I wouldn't have thought that there would be enough calls from outside the UK to exceed this limit if it does exist.



loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 11:13am:
Regarding the cost implications for Tfl, I am sceptical about their claim that running the IVR technology on a geographic number would incur a "significant" cost.   I suspect that they could run a geo number in parallel with the 0843 number very easily and at an insignificant cost.   (Are there any members of the Forum with industry knowledge who can comment on this?).    I suspect that what Tfl are really concerned about is the potential loss of revenue if a geo number were to be offered in parallel.   Perhaps this point could be challenged in any follow-up to the FOI response?

I don't work in the industry and never have done. However, it would appear to stand to reason that all operators of NTS numbers must factor in the cost of terminating calls to destination numbers (which are run by other network operators).

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Feb 9th, 2011 at 2:19pm

loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:50am:
If there is to be a charge for HAVING a 08 non-geographic number it should be borne by the recipient not the caller.

The charge levied by TfL is 5p per minute.

That is all that matters to the caller, apart from the additional charge levied by their own telephone company.

How TfL uses that money to defray the various costs it incurs in operating the service is a matter for TfL and its suppliers. Customers obviously cannot have direct influence over how a provider uses the money it receives in payment for a service.


loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 10:53am:
Of course the 0843 number generates income for Tfl !!!

It is surely understood that use of a 0843 number generates a subsidy that would not be available if the service were provided on a geographic number.

That is not to say that each call to the 0843 number has a positive effect on TfL's finances, per se. It may simply be less damaging than would be the case if a geographic number were used.

I see it as being of no great relevance as to whether the level of the Service Charge (ex VAT) is more or less than the costs incurred in handling the call. Arguments about whether or not there is net income may be of some interest, but this makes little difference to the caller, who has to pay a charge to access a service, in addition to that leveied by their own telephone company.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by loddon on Feb 9th, 2011 at 3:44pm

Dave wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 10:48am:

loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:50am:
This points to the deception in the majority of thinking on this subject.  Lack of "Transparency" is not the main problem nor is "Transparency", as proposed, the whole answer.    It still does not address the fundamental dishonesty in the charging mechanism for 08 numbers.

This begs the question why single out 08 numbers? What about (in particular) mobile telephone numbers?.

Because I wanted to refer to 08 numberts as distinct from 03 , 09 etc within the non-geographic groupings which Ofcom covers in its current consultation.



loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:50am:
It is down to TfL to seek better value for the 5ppm subsidy it receives..

Agreed, but they are only getting about 33% of the subsidy-- not very good, and not good value for callers.



loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:50am:
See this simple diagram I made of the various parties:

Caller ----- <Caller's telco> [X] <Receiver's telco> ----- Receiver

The Caller subscribes to the Caller's telco which it pays and therefore it acts in the interest of its customer (Caller). It makes no sense to suggest that it would ever offer the Receiver anything, i.e. a higher termination fee to pass point [X] as that would be like doing business and offering a better terms to the person you're buying off in return for no benefit. (I put this paragraph in so as to show similarity between this and what happens at the Receiver's end.)..

Good diagram and helpful.  This is as I have understood the mechanism to be for a long time now, so no issue here.  
Who suggested the caller's Telco should offer more to the Receiver's?   I certainly didn't.


loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:50am:
Now consider what happens to the right of point [X] which is the Receiver's responsibility. The Receiver subscribes to the Receiver's telco which it pays and therefore it acts in the interest of its customer (Receiver). It makes no sense to suggest that it would ever offer the Caller anything, i.e. lower termination charges (so as to permit Caller's telco to offer lower call charges) as that would be like doing business and offering a discount to someone who is buying from you giving in return for no lesser service..

Where did this idea come from?  Not from me.


loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:50am:
Thus, it stands to reason that the Caller's responsibility is to the left of [X] and the Receiver's is to the right..

Agreed.


Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by loddon on Feb 9th, 2011 at 4:05pm

Dave wrote on Oct 25th, 6080 at 10:58pm:

It would appear to be distinguishment of "income" and offset costs.


Playing with words.  Call it income, (which Tfl wrongly deny), revenue, defrayment of costs or cost offset -- they are still receiving a 1.5ppm benefit of revenue in kind from callers.   They might claim rightly that they make no profit or surplus revenue.


Dave wrote on Oct 25th, 6080 at 10:58pm:

Still not sure why you're treating the 1.5ppm they receive in payments and the 4.5ppm they receive as services in kind though.  :-/.

Don't understand your question or your point.


Dave wrote on Oct 25th, 6080 at 10:58pm:

This merely continues to fuel the misunderstanding of these things, much like talking about local and national rate does with call charges.

I don't understand this point.  What is wrong with discussing the rights and wrongs of charging callers a premium to call 08 numbers?

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by loddon on Feb 9th, 2011 at 4:10pm

Dave wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 11:29am:
The fact that there are many numbers listed in our database which answer with IVRs (often the same as their 08 couterparts) rather nullifies such claims.

A good point and thanks for your support on this Dave.  :)

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Feb 9th, 2011 at 4:17pm

loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 4:05pm:

Dave wrote on Oct 25th, 6080 at 10:58pm:

Still not sure why you're treating the 1.5ppm they receive in payments and the 4.5ppm they receive as services in kind though.  :-/.

Don't understand your question or your point.

Sorry. I'll write it again with a few more words in:  :-[

Still not sure why you're distinguishing between the 1.5ppm they receive in direct payments and the 4.5ppm they receive as services in kind though.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Feb 9th, 2011 at 5:37pm

loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 4:05pm:
... they are still receiving a 1.5ppm benefit of revenue in kind from callers ...

Does it matter what they are "receiving"? By choosing this 0843 number they impose a charge of 5p per minute on callers.


loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 4:05pm:
What is wrong with discussing the rights and wrongs of charging callers a premium to call 08 numbers?

It is wrong that the charge is not declared for what it is. That is what is wrong with 084 and PRS numbers at present. I cannot see how the fact that it is used, in part or in full, to fund telephone services, in part or in full, makes it any different from any other charge.

Would it make any difference if TfL paid its telephone service provider in full for the number and the associated network telephone services and used all of the 5p per minute towards the cost of the actual information services?

Should companies be allowed to recover the cost of their telephones through their retail prices? It is those who may call them who pay these prices. Or does the suggested rule that it is the receiver who should pay only apply to 08 numbers, where there may not be a need to recover the cost through retail prices because callers may be meeting some or all of the cost?


I believe that far too much energy gets used up in looking at the internal finances of NGCS users and allowing ourselves to get drawn into semantic arguments about accounting terms. I see the issue of "profit" as a red herring. Now that 03 is available, the question of the (alleged) features available on non-geographic numbers is also irrelevant.

The only point at issue is whether or not a charge for the service is appropriate and the fact that if a charge is levied through use of a Business or Premium Rate number then it should be declared for what it is - even though this is presently not easy to do in a simple manner.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by loddon on Feb 9th, 2011 at 6:20pm

Dave wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 4:17pm:
Still not sure why you're distinguishing between the 1.5ppm they receive in direct payments and the 4.5ppm they receive as services in kind though.


It follows from what I said in Post#7 above.  I was using this to make the general point (with the current Ofcom Consultation in mind) that charges for calls to 08 numbers are fundamentrally wrong, unethical if you prefer, because the "owner" of the 08 wants a certain service from their Telco and I say passing the charge for this service to callers is wrong in principle and is a great incentive to inefficiency, and in some cases leads to exploitation of callers.   Many people resent the charges incurred in calling these numbers as evidenced by the existence of this website.  

Tfl should pay the service costs levied by their Telco instead of imposing them on their callers.   If this was the situation then Tfl would have a considerable incentive to get the best service possible for their purposes at the best available price and to keep both service level and costs (currently 3.5ppm) under review.  As it is now set up Tfl do not have the incentive of managing the phone service charges and appear to be shamelessly uncaring about the excess costs imposed on their callers.  By insisting on using 0843 and a number of other 08 numbers they are imposing a massive surcharge on their mobile and callbox callers, who I would suggest are the majority, as most callers will be out and travelling, because Tfl are depriving them of the opportunity to phone Tfl within their inclusive minutes within their call packages.   There is probably a lesser cost imposition on their landline callers but it is no less unethical.   These criticisms apply equally to all "owners" of 08 numbers.

The remaining 1.5ppm is the so-called micro-payment and the shared revenue part of the 5ppm surcharge.   I am against the concept of these micro-payments and feel there must be a better way.   As has been said many times before on this Forum using 08 numbers is a very inefficient way of collecting revenue and results in massively increased costs for callers.


Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by CJT-80 on Feb 9th, 2011 at 6:25pm
loddon,

I wish I had the ability on here to "like" your post.

It's explains in much better detail, why NGN's ONLY benefit the owners and users, NEVER the caller!

The only small exception to this is 03 numbers.

I am sure others in other countries would be up in arms about our use of 084/087 numbers, especially for Transport services, such as TfL, National Rail, and Traveline!

:(

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Feb 9th, 2011 at 10:47pm

loddon wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 6:20pm:
It follows from what I said in Post#7 above.  I was using this to make the general point (with the current Ofcom Consultation in mind) that charges for calls to 08 numbers are fundamentrally wrong, unethical if you prefer, because the "owner" of the 08 wants a certain service from their Telco and I say passing the charge for this service to callers is wrong in principle and is a great incentive to inefficiency, and in some cases leads to exploitation of callers.   Many people resent the charges incurred in calling these numbers as evidenced by the existence of this website.

The comment about a charge of 1.5p per minute in post #7 was incorrect. In terms of the proposal in the Ofcom consultation, and in reality, the charge levied by TfL is 5p per minute.

I have always opposed the idea of trying to conceal what is happening by considering the way in which the 5p is used, i.e. pretending that it is only 1.5p or nothing at all. I regard the question of whether some or all of this money is used to pay the NGCS user's telco, to save money for the taxpayer, to boost the profits of a highly efficient organisation or wasted on an inefficiently run call centre, as totally irrelevant to the truly fundamental issue - the caller is paying a premium charge to access a particular service by telephone.


The present situation with 084 numbers is a complete mess, because callers are unaware of how much of what they paying is down to their telco and how much the "Service Provider". This is further confused by the fact that the largest single (although minority) telephone service provider is in a wholly unique position and therefore unsuitable for use as an example if suggesting likely call charges. Furthermore, the way in which mobile telcos group together many different types of NGCS numbers into a common aggregate charge rate means that their Access Charges differ widely, making more when the Service Provider is making less. This latter approach makes it easier for callers to determine the call cost, but is hardly fair.

This has to change.

The unbundled proposal offers a serious way forward to address the transparency issue. As I suggest above, I see no reason why the essence of this proposal could not be adopted by TfL and others immediately. The suggestion that Telcos should not be allowed to vary their Access Charge to give grouped aggregate charge rates addresses one of the inefficiency issues. The removal of the special regulations on BT will help with clarity, even though BT customers would be expected to incur higher charges for calling NGCS numbers.


Total opposition to third parties collecting money through phone bills would be a coherent position to take. It is not clear as to whether this is opposed in respect of Premium Rate (09) numbers, or only 084 and perhaps 087. If so restricted, then suggesting that there must be a minimum level (over 10p per minute, 5p if just 084) at which this should be allowed is a position that needs to be justified against the proposed clearer future for all NGCS numbers, not simply by reference to the current unsatisfactory mess. A proposal for what to do with the presently used numbers is also required to complete a coherent position.


As a London taxpayer with access to the internet, where I use the TfL services without charge, I have an interest in this. What I pay to run TfL is offset by the 5p per minute paid by callers to its newly enhanced telephone enquiry service. Personally, I would rather that we London taxpayers footed the bill in full, although I accept that others may feel differently. If TfL wishes to help us by imposing a charge for a service that may be used more by visitors than London residents, then I believe that it should declare this charge openly. It is not acceptable to quote (out of date) BT call charge rates. I do not believe that TfL should be compelled to charge either over 10p per minute (on a 09 number) or nothing at all for access to this service. I have no reason to suppose that TfL is any more or less diligent in how it manages its finances and negotiates with its suppliers over this service than in any other aspect of its operations.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by loddon on Feb 10th, 2011 at 6:59pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 5:37pm:
Should companies be allowed to recover the cost of their telephones through their retail prices? It is those who may call them who pay these prices. Or does the suggested rule that it is the receiver who should pay only apply to 08 numbers, where there may not be a need to recover the cost through retail prices because callers may be meeting some or all of the cost?.

Do you mean -- "Should companies be allowed to recover the cost of their telephones through 08 telephone charges (using revenue sharing)?  

I think not because there is still too much wrong with the system under the new system as proposed by Ofcom.   The main problem is that Tfl, for example, cause their mobile callers (which group I have already said are probably the majority) to pay between 20 and 40 million pounds extra for every 1.5 million pounds in revenue which they collect from using the 0843 number.   This is because Tfl are denying callers the opportunity to use minutes from their pre-paid allowance within their contracted package with their Telco.  

0843 numbers are excluded from all packages so callers are forced to pay through the nose in order to access the Tfl service by phone.   Even landline callers with inclusive packages must pay 5 to 10 million pounds for every 1.5 million which Tfl collect.   I am not getting at Tfl, they are just the example which has come to hand this time, but this consideration applies to all users of these numbers which are excluded from call packages.  

It is not just a case that Tfl would be declaring a charge of 5ppm on top of "your Telcos access charge."    No --( for all callers with a package) they should be declaring a 5ppm charge on top of "the premium charge which your Telco charges instead of the normal charge of zero pence which would apply to calls made within your package".   Hence 20 to 40 million for every 1.5 million which Tfl collect.   In any other case this sort of excessive charge would be totally unacceptable but the Telco industry get away with it because few people see the whole picture, (other than the annoyed and angry frustrated users) and the few who use this website and this Forum.   ;)  

This is why I say transparency is not the whole answer to this problem.   Now if a system could be found which would allow Tfl to apply their charge of 1.5 ppm on top of the callers "normal" call cost then we may have a more acceptable solution where an organisation is genuinely offering a real service not just charging the customers every time they need to call them for everyday reasons like complaining about a product, or resolving a problem or misunderstanding.



Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Feb 10th, 2011 at 8:02pm

loddon wrote on Feb 10th, 2011 at 6:59pm:
Do you mean -- "Should companies be allowed to recover the cost of their telephones through 08 telephone charges (using revenue sharing)?

I was actually addressing a different issue, however the response goes on to raise another important point, which has not been discussed at any length - the level of the "Access Charge". This same point applies equally to 084, 087 and 09 call charges.

Because of the present bundled situation, along with special conditions relating to BT, we currently have a complete mess. The status quo is indefensible. Ofcom admits this, although rather than beating itself up with guilt over its responsibility for it, Ofcom tries to move on by proposing radical measures.

We may get some idea about how telcos will deal with the "Access Charge" issue in their responses to the consultation. I am reluctant to guess, however there is an interesting possibility, which is linked in with another situation that will be changing over the coming years.

It is not impossible that telcos will be taking all of their income through packages covering calls to geographic rate numbers, mobile numbers and the access charge element of calls to Business and Premium Rate numbers. This will leave the only call charges on the telephone bill as the Service Charges associated with calls to Business and Premium Rate numbers.

There is a strong preference for packages, as many telcos have indicated that mobile call inclusive packages will be offered when the excess termination rates disappear. I am not an expert on PAYG deals, however top-up packages and bundles, rather than simply a cash credit against fixed charges, seem to be increasing as a feature in this market.

The situation has to change; TfL has taken a bad decision given the current realities. I cannot say whether failing to upgrade the telephone service or getting taxpayers to pay for it would have been worse decisions.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by loddon on Feb 11th, 2011 at 11:06pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Feb 10th, 2011 at 8:02pm:
Because of the present bundled situation, along with special conditions relating to BT, we currently have a complete mess. The status quo is indefensible. Ofcom admits this, although rather than beating itself up with guilt over its responsibility for it, Ofcom tries to move on by proposing radical measures.


The current situation is a complete mess and is indefensible !!   Very strong criticism indeed SCV.   I am not going to argue against your assessment ..... and I am not convinced that Ofcom is "proposing (sufficiently) radical measures" to clear up the mess and gain popular support.  

I don't think the Ofcom proposals will address the two main problems of excessive cost to callers and cynical exploitation by "owners" of 08 numbers.   Just look at this thread http://www.saynoto0870.com/cgi-bin/forum/YaBB.cgi?num=1297424740/4#4  which started today where an airline, BmiBaby, in similar action to their industry competitors, insist on using a rip-off 0844 number while offering toll-free and benign normal numbers to their customers in other countries.  

Their representative has had the audacity to start a thread on this site and yet will not respond to reasonable questions nor explain or attempt to justify BmiBaby's rationale in insisting on using 08 numbers.   Do BmiBaby have no confidence at all in their position such that they are not prepared to explain and justify their position?  This intransigence by Companies only fuels the public perception that they are only interested in ripping-off the British public, while they would never dare in other countries.   This is an issue which Ofcom should address.

The other big issue which I have aluded to is the ludicrous and exploitative design of the system which forces callers to pay excessive call costs while the companies are claiming to be making fair charges for services but in fact are receiving a mere 10% or less of the charges.  This charging structure will be no different under the proposed regime.



Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Feb 12th, 2011 at 2:48am

loddon wrote on Feb 11th, 2011 at 11:06pm:
... (no reference to TfL) ...

Perhaps for the sake of good order in the forum, we should keep our comments in the appropriate threads.

I reply Re: Ofcom consultation: ... and Re: bmibaby.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by bazzerfewi on Mar 14th, 2011 at 1:37pm
I AM TOTALLY APPOSED TO 0845 NUMBERS BUT THE REASON THEY ARE USED IS BECAUSE OF THE TELCOS PROMOTING THEM

On one hand I understand why companies prefer 0845 numbers rather than 03 numbers, the reason being is that companies have to pay 1p per minute to receive the call.

03 numbers should be more user friendly and becuase they are included in call packages the call recipient should not have to pay to recieve the call. Companies will always find a way to reduce costs and increase revenue where possible. The sad thing is that many smaller companies do not benefit because they do not receive revenue from the Telcos until they have received significant calls. I know this because I had an 0845 number some years ago.

So Ofcom should get their act togeather and develope a plan that works for both the caller and the recipient  

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Mar 14th, 2011 at 3:48pm

bazzerfewi wrote on Mar 14th, 2011 at 1:37pm:
I AM TOTALLY APPOSED TO 0845 NUMBERS BUT THE REASON THEY ARE USED IS BECAUSE OF THE TELCOS PROMOTING THEM
...
So Ofcom should get their act togeather and develope a plan that works for both the caller and the recipient  

This is all a hang-over from the days when BT was the dominant provider and could not pass on the premium cost to callers. This meant that users had the benefit of non-geographic numbers and the associated advanced features at no cost to themselves, or those who actually called them. As BT continued to make a profit, the cost was (indeed still is so far as BT is concerned) met by telephone users in general.

It is natural that telcos would promote them under those circumstances, but they still do so, failing to advise that the situation has changed substantially. BT is still subject to this regulation, but it now originates only around 40% of non-business calls from landlines, which account for only around 60% of all non-business calls. This makes the BT share of the non-business calls market around 24%.


When a non-geographic number is selected, the user (known as the Service Provider - SP) can pick it from a price band which determines the amount their telephone service provider (the TCP) receives for each call minute. Essentially, this is the rate that BT must charge for the call, it cannot add its own charge. Other providers are free to add their own charge to give whatever rate they advertise. We therefore have the Service Charge (to the benefit of the recipient) and the Access Charge (to the benefit of the originating telephone company) bundled together.


The Service Charge which callers pay (except with 03) first subsidises the cost of the advanced features on non-geographic numbers, so it is only any residue that gets passed on as "revenue share". (If call volumes fall well short, the user may actually get a bill.)

Because this is the way that non-geographic numbers have always been financed, operators generally apply the same model with 03 numbers, charging by the call, rather than as a simple rental charge. I am not sure whether Ofcom should intervene to determine the basis on which telcos charge users of 03 numbers for their services.

In general, I do not believe that the terms of the commercial relationship between the TCP and the SP should be a matter of any concern to the caller. Ofcom should only intervene if there is a serious problem that could be effectively addressed by regulation. If 03 users are unfairly denied the option to pay for their service other than by paying to receive calls, then they should make a case for Ofcom to intervene.


The level of the Service Charge paid by the caller, according to the number selected by whoever they are calling, should be all that matters to them, regardless of how it is distributed. The Access Charge added by their own telephone company is another separate issue.

Ofcom proposes that the existing arrangement (using the terms given above) be made transparent under what it calls the "unbundled option" presented in its (now extended) current consultation. The key feature of the proposal is that the Service Provider be required to declare the Service Charge that they have selected to be imposed on the caller. They will also be required to refer to the Access Charge imposed by the caller's own telephone company.

The telephone companies will also be required to make their Access Charge simple to understand and clearly presented. Whilst these proposals are nothing like as radical as some advocate, I believe that if they are properly implemented then the transparency will have an effect on the way in which these numbers are used. Present patterns rely heavily on misrepresentation, ignorance and misunderstanding of complex issues.

Ofcom also proposes that the current special regulation on BT be lifted, so that competition can occur on an equal basis (in terms of regulation). Is essence this means that BT will be free to add an Access Charge and it will not be able to hide the Service Charges incurred when calling 0845 numbers in packages, where they are effectively paid by all package subscribers.

If this option is adopted and put into effect, those promoting "Business Rate" 084 numbers will have to point out that the selected level of Service Charge must be declared to callers. In some cases, this may make 084 numbers harder to sell. As the requirements will apply to existing users of 084 numbers, we will have to look out for a possible mass migration to 03, or a return to geographic numbers.


Members may express their views about whether or not this is the right plan in response to the consultation and / or in the associated discussion in this thread

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Mar 15th, 2011 at 12:28pm

bazzerfewi wrote on Mar 14th, 2011 at 1:37pm:
On one hand I understand why companies prefer 0845 numbers rather than 03 numbers, the reason being is that companies have to pay 1p per minute to receive the call.

The amount Service Providers (organisations using the numbers) must pay is a commercial matter between themselves and their provider. Any such charges are not new, but currently covered by Service Charges on 0845 (and similar) numbers.

By the same token, at the caller's end there is the call charge. That is a matter between the caller and its provider. This is not the issue; higher call charges are merely a consequence of the Service Charge.

The key issue is therefore the level of service charge. As this is something which Service Providers control, then they should declare these when soliciting calls.



bazzerfewi wrote on Mar 14th, 2011 at 1:37pm:
So Ofcom should get their act togeather and develope a plan that works for both the caller and the recipient  

I believe that Ofcom has developed a plan that works for both parties, as contained in the current consultation (the consultation period has been extended until 31st March).

The unbundled solution is the clearest to represent charges. I go as far as saying that the charges should never have been bundled together in a multi-provider system, as we have today. It is that which has caused all the confusion and it is that which leaves us with all organisations seeking benefit through their Business Rate numbers, but many pretending that they do not.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by bazzerfewi on Mar 15th, 2011 at 4:51pm
I am just a humble user of the telecom services and do not fully understand its implications but it appears to me that the industry is all driven by profit and the general public do not understand all the different pricing structures.

There's nothing wrong with profit that's what makes the world go around but it's all the different pricing and plans that confuses people.

It could be made easier if Ofcom put their mind to it


Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by CJT-80 on Mar 15th, 2011 at 10:35pm

bazzerfewi wrote on Mar 15th, 2011 at 4:51pm:
I am just a humble user of the telecom services and do not fully understand its implications but it appears to me that the industry is all driven by profit and the general public do not understand all the different pricing structures.

There's nothing wrong with profit that's what makes the world go around but it's all the different pricing and plans that confuses people.

It could be made easier if Ofcom put their mind to it


bazzerfewi,

I agree whole heartedly, and that is a point I will be making as part of the Ofcom consultation on Simplyfing No Geographic Numbers.

:)

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by bazzerfewi on Mar 15th, 2011 at 10:51pm
Thanks for your support CJT-80

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Mar 16th, 2011 at 9:59am
Perhaps the answer is re-nationalisation or at least removal of inter-connections between networks.

Indeed, the whole sorry mess of premium numbers masquerading as "local rate" et al could not have come about if it weren't for the move to a single multi-provider (connected) system.

Despite what people claim in this forum, I believe that in general, users of 084 numbers still think of telecoms as if BT is the norm which is why we are where we are. They apparently have a level of understanding which is below that needed in order to act as an informed consumer in a free-market.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by floella2 on Apr 6th, 2011 at 4:25pm
Yes, renationalisation (of everything) is the answer. Thatcher's idealogy that privatisation would create competition and benefit the consumer was a blatant lie. What actually happened is communication, electricity, gas, housing providers etc etc etc colluded to rip us off and that is why the country is in so much debt - the money is all going in one direction, to the greedy few. Net stop, scameron and the NHS.

I appreciate this may appear off topic but in actual fact this is the real reason the 'regulators' such as ofcon (servative) are doing pretty much nothing.

Oh to anyone who blames 'new' labour for the mess, 'new' labour were in actual fact a continuation of the failed tories.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by floella2 on Apr 6th, 2011 at 4:36pm
I am not sure if anybody has raised this (I am simply looking for the latest 020 number for TfL Journey Planner as it has changed AGAIN!!!!!)

I am not a lawyer but I am curious to know whether it would breach competition rules for a Government body to quote BT prices as they are effectively advertising BT as a service provider without a mention of all others. Obviously they cannot quote ALL the service providers but this may be a sneaky method to ban government use of 08 numbers altogether.

Also, the service provider quoted would, I imagine, always be the cheapest so as to make the number appear less punitive to callers. Well if I was a marketing director that would seem logical to me anyway.

Oh yeah, regarding the 0843 Journey Planner, it is damn hypocrital of TfL to display posters warning of the risks to women using unlicensed minicabs whilst making it very difficult indeed to plan a safe way home after a night out.

Does anyone know of the new number for 0843 222 1234 please because the one listed on here no longer works.

Thanks

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Apr 6th, 2011 at 4:44pm

floella2 wrote on Apr 6th, 2011 at 4:36pm:
I am not sure if anybody has raised this (I am simply looking for the latest 020 number for TfL Journey Planner as it has changed AGAIN!!!!!)

[…]

Does anyone know of the new number for 0843 222 1234 please because the one listed on here no longer works.

Thanks for pointing this out Floella.

I've changed this number several times over the last week or so, having checked to see if it was working. I have no requirement for this myself; I simply check for the benefit of site users.

To date you're the first person that's pointed out that the listed number is now defunct; answered with the recording that says the number has now changed to 0844... (the same message as is on 7222 1234).

The number ending 18 was only put on there yesterday.

The working numbers have been going upwards and if you add 1 to that number, it goes through to the familiar hold music. I have therefore updated the listings.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Q on Jun 29th, 2011 at 12:42am

Dave wrote on Dec 8th, 2010 at 11:58am:

Quote:
There is a capacity restriction on 020 numbers as it is correlated directly to the number of channels we have in our telephony system. This limits the number of calls we can handle at any one time. On the contrary, by moving onto 0843 number we have opened up this capacity using network routing, thus enabling us to enhance our at-once call handling to better serve our customers fast and efficiently. Additionally, the new non-geographic number will not only provide much needed extra capacity but will also allow callers to get through (even at the busiest of times) and their query dealt with immediately during major incidents or at times of severe travel disruption.

It would perhaps be interesting to learn of what that capacity limit is.  :-?


There is none. You can have as many channels as you like on just about any number you like. We flex the number of channels up during busy periods at work and that 'flex' might be another 90 channels for 30 days.

You might run into problems when trying to add more spans from the non serving exchange, but the wonders of datafill allow you to do all kinds of things like re-map DDI's etc on the fly, you can also split off the SS7 and send that over another line all together if your demand is high enough. Adding network routing is by the by in this case (While the contact centre is in London) all calls will still transit the same bits of the PSTN and end up within the 020 cloud. If we drop the DJSU's we have bigger problems than people not being able to find out where there train is.

What they mean is they didn't want to get the from there existing provider so moved to a new provider (at the same time they moved all there internal numbers etc) they decided to get more channels off the new provider, and add a few more channel cards to there PBX... They could also be SIP trunking from there telco as well.



Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by CJT-80 on Jun 29th, 2011 at 10:17pm
Dear Q,

Thanks for your recent post, could you (for those who don't do telephone speak) please translate that into a more basic form?


Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Q on Jun 30th, 2011 at 8:21pm

Q wrote on Jun 29th, 2011 at 12:42am:
There is none. You can have as many channels as you like on just about any number you like. We flex the number of channels up during busy periods at work and that 'flex' might be another 90 channels for 30 days.


When you start getting up to running contact centres you tend to use 30 channel ISDN lines, as the name gives away you can have 30 calls going on at any one time. Easy - thats a single line usually presented as BNC plugs or an RJ45 which you plug into your phone system. As you only have one number (In this case lets presume its the old 020 7222 1234 one) the 1st call will come in on channel one, and then 2 and 3 all the way to 30. When you hit all 30 channels in use you get the busy tone (As a user calling in).

To deal with this shortage you add another ISDN30 (which gives another 30 calls) brining your total simultainious calls upto 60, if thats still not enough you add more and more and more till you cant plug any more lines into your phone system. As all the lines relate to the same number (in this case) the BT (or whoevers exchange you use) is told that any call for 020 7222 1234 should be directed down any of the channels listed within the dial plan for that route. That way you add more lines but don't need more numbers or anything like that.

If you have ever come across featureline the principle is the same, but that's done using analogue copper lines, not fully digital lines as in the world of ISDN.


Quote:
You might run into problems when trying to add more spans from the non serving exchange, but the wonders of datafill allow you to do all kinds of things like re-map DDI's etc on the fly, you can also split off the SS7 and send that over another line all together if your demand is high enough.


A span or a trunk is just another name used for the (in this case) ISDN30 lines we are talking about.

If you try and bring in 30 lines from say Wood Green exchange, and another 30 from Muswell Hill you can sometimes run into configuration problems where the telco makes a mess of things and your calls end up going to odd places. The problem is all to do with number blocks and the way there allocated, configured & routed over the network, and explains why they where so slow to offer number portability to people who wanted to keep there 'old' home phone number when they moved out of the serving exchange area.

Datafill is the the routing and config behind the public phone network. It tells exchanges how to route numbers and calls and all sorts of fun stuff. If your a big enough player in the telecomes world (or pay enough) you can have services from the telcos where you can have 1x30 channel trunk from Wood Green with the numbers 020 8521 0000 -> 0999 and a backup line from Muswell Hill that has no numbers on it. If your main line fails you can fail over and take the numbers with you onto the Muswell Hill trunk in one hit without having downtime or to re-advertise your entire number block in times of trouble.

SS7 is the guts of it all - wiki is your friend as there's a lot to cover off. When you start getting lots and lots of voice lines you need to deal with all the call setup stuff (On an ISDN line you have the 'D' channel for that) there comes a point where you can lump all of that SS7 traffic together and connect it into the public network anywhere you like (well almost) That way *all* your call setup traffic is pushed over 1 line and not split into each ISDN line. (If that makes sense)


Quote:
Adding network routing is by the by in this case (While the contact centre is in London) all calls will still transit the same bits of the PSTN and end up within the 020 cloud. If we drop the DJSU's we have bigger problems than people not being able to find out where there train is.


DJSU's are (or where as I'm not sure how many are left in traffic now) Digital Junction Switching Units. They where installed into the BT network when 'London' started getting big (Prob goes back to the 01 to 071 and 081 move) The idea of those is to keep calls within London that never need to go outside of London. Before DJSU's a call from London to London might of gone a 'long' way round phone network in order to get up the road. That was and is silly so they stuck in some extra switches at key exchanges to manage London only calls and number routing.

If the DJSU's fell offline or all broke there would be issues with the call volumes in and around London which may break other parts of the public network because thats the only way the traffic can flow.


Quote:
What they mean is they didn't want to get the from there existing provider so moved to a new provider (at the same time they moved all there internal numbers etc) they decided to get more channels off the new provider, and add a few more channel cards to there PBX... They could also be SIP trunking from there telco as well.


I spoke to TfL at length about all these changes some time ago, and part of it was they where changing there phone systems, suppliers and everything - they did it in one hit and this is the result. I can't give any details but they have numbers in the 020 3 block as apposed to the 020 7.
True its 'easier' to divert a 08xx number, and true you can get some funky services (like in-coming geographic call hand off) Think National Rail Enq - a caller from 0191 will have there call routed to a northern call centre, while someone from 020 goes to India!

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Q on Jun 30th, 2011 at 8:25pm
As for adding more channel cards - well see the stuff above. At some point you run out of space in your phone system, like in your PC or router when that comes its time to upgrade some more.


SIP obviously is VoIP related and people are starting to do stuff with it now to replace ISDN30 lines as it costs less and can be sold and a bundled deal with your internet provider.


The only onther thing I missed off was 'flex' its a term used to change the ammount of channels or bandwith you can flex up or down. A good example was the old ADSL ATM central's ISP's had to use to connect you to the internet.

You could start off with a 155Mbit line, but you had to upgrade it to the full 622Mbit by the end of the contract, there where ways to go up and down, and you could once your minimum term was over and done with, but there was always a lower flex limit which you could never go below.

Hope that all helps anyway - if not let me know and I'll try break things down even further.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Jun 30th, 2011 at 9:02pm

Q wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 8:21pm:
When you start getting up to running contact centres you tend to use 30 channel ISDN lines, as the name gives away you can have 30 calls going on at any one time. …

Thanks for this insight.

I know that many of these phone systems in GP surgeries that use 0844 numbers have underlying geographics to deliver the calls. I tried calling a few of these we have from three phones simultaneously and they all got through, as I expected.

But could you shed any light on what the limit on the number of incoming calls will be?

If a surgery has one ISDN30, will it always allow 30 speech channels or can users rent ISDNs with less so as to save money? How many pairs does an ISDN30 occupy?

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Q on Jun 30th, 2011 at 9:24pm
Well I suspect the local quack won't have a full 30 channel span. They might have a couple of ISDN2's (Which is 2 channels per line) or they might use feature line or something like it.

In general;
ISDN2e = 1 copper pair
ISDN30e = Optical fiber (Though can be delivered over 1 or 2 copper pairs in some locations (normally 020 7 land)
Feature Line = 1 copper pair per voice channel
SIP = Normally 30 calls per trunk

As a rule if you buy an ISDN30 you are required to activate 15 channels minimum. You can then buy more channels till you hit all 30. Once that happens you need another line.

If you uses an ISDN2 I think the limit is 14 channels before BT will make you order a ISDN30 instead.

There is no way for an external user to know how many lines go into any given phone system. In theory there is no limit to the number of calls you can have going on at once.

There are clues, like during a busy period (Winter time in this case when everyone is ill) you could take a best guess based if you get the engaged tone and how many of the locals have complained down the pub about not getting through. Also if you visit your local quack and they still have people on a front counter actually answering the calls see what phones there using, the branding may give away what phone system it is, you can then look at basic (low cost) configurations and see what options you come out with.

If you know the geo numbers and have access to an ISDN line of your own you can watch the call setup data and that would give you a clue as to what line type is is and how many channels. I suspect your not in the telecoms world though and wouldn't be able to do that.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Jun 30th, 2011 at 9:31pm

Q wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 9:24pm:
… Also if you visit your local quack and they still have people on a front counter actually answering the calls see what phones there using, the branding may give away what phone system it is, you can then look at basic (low cost) configurations and see what options you come out with.

The GP phone systems I'm talking about use IP Office if that's any help.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Q on Jun 30th, 2011 at 10:00pm
It is.

Google is your friend with regards the configurations...

They might be using VoIP for there inbound number, otherwise it will be a digital line of some sort either ISDN2 or ISDN30.

I don't think those boxes can take many analogue lines in there most basic configuration. Google them and you will find all the specs and versions of the actual back end.

Depending how big a GP it is I'd take a punt at maybe 4x ISDN2 which gives 8 active voice channels at any one time. I don't know who provides the systems for them these days but you should find something on the net about it.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Jul 1st, 2011 at 2:19pm
Thanks again Q.

The only thing I can tell you about the incoming numbers for these GP phone systems is that they use number blocks associated with the local BT exchanges rather than BT prefixes that may be used STD code area (town) wide.

I have a question about termination charges. Where a telco that operates an NTS number, e.g. 0844, and passes calls on to geographic numbers operated by another network it presumably incurs a termination charge. Is this correct and is it likely that this will be the same as (or roughly the same as) if an OCP had passed the call directly onto the same landline number?

I imagine that a normal call that doesn't involve an NTS will look something like this (Figure 1):

[Caller]---[Caller's telco]---[x]---[Receiver's landline telco]---[Receiver]

[x] is the point of interconnection where the termination payment occurs.

I accept that there are transit operators involved sometimes, but let's keep it as simple as we can!

Where an NTS number is used (that terminates onwards to another operator's number), will it look like this? (Figure 2):

[Caller]---[Caller's telco]---[x]---[NTS telco]---[y]---[Receiver's landline telco]---[Receiver]

Am I right in assuming that the termination charge at point [y] in Figure 2 will be the same as that at point [x] in Figure 1? And if so, hence why it is that 03 providers charge because they have to terminate calls on other networks?

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Q on Jul 2nd, 2011 at 3:08pm
Alas I can't help with things like termination costs - that's not my side of the job as it where. I can bore you silly with tech/geek stuff but little on the billing that issn't a simple one. (Like prices for optical lines etc)

Sorry.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jul 2nd, 2011 at 4:05pm
With the benefit of a famous geek contributing to the forum, one must ask a commonly encountered question.

It is suggested that facilities such as "network waiting", i.e. queuing calls at the exchange rather than occupying lines to the destination, are only, or more readily, available on non-geographic, rather than geographic, numbers. Automatic switching is another feature said to be provided.

There are however examples of cases where very large queues are handled on geographic numbers and call re-direct is a standard feature available on normal lines. These examples are often used to refute the suggestion that there is any technical benefit to having a non-geographic number.

If there were no technical benefit, then the only justification for the considerable expense of a 03 number would be geographic anonymity. I am therefore inclined to believe that there is some technical benefit and this is not, as some suggest, just a myth put out by those who make money out of revenue sharing.

An expert comment on this issue would be appreciated. Do non-geographic number offer technical benefits over geographic numbers?

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Dave on Jul 2nd, 2011 at 4:20pm

Q wrote on Jul 2nd, 2011 at 3:08pm:
Alas I can't help with things like termination costs - that's not my side of the job as it where. I can bore you silly with tech/geek stuff but little on the billing that issn't a simple one. (Like prices for optical lines etc)

Sorry.

Thanks for your insight; it's interesting and useful.  :)

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Q on Jul 7th, 2011 at 12:54am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jul 2nd, 2011 at 4:05pm:
With the benefit of a famous geek contributing to the forum, one must ask a commonly encountered question.


I Didn't think I was famous! I only have what, 6 posts to my name.


Quote:
It is suggested that facilities such as "network waiting", i.e. queuing calls at the exchange rather than occupying lines to the destination, are only, or more readily, available on non-geographic, rather than geographic, numbers. Automatic switching is another feature said to be provided.


Well when you get into the world of digital services then you can do all those things against any old number. Swithing etc (See my item about DDI re-mapping above) can all be done, but at a cost.

If you went to BT I don't actually know if they would even give you the option to re-map numbers on the fly - or if they did there would (I suspect) be a huge cost attached to it. Just because we can do it at work, that just says the back end systems will let us, not that its a given right/option for any member of joe public to buy.


Quote:
There are however examples of cases where very large queues are handled on geographic numbers and call re-direct is a standard feature available on normal lines. These examples are often used to refute the suggestion that there is any technical benefit to having a non-geographic number.


Indeed as I said up thread, there is no limit (That I can recall) of how many channels you have coming into your phone system. There are issues with divert and some enhanced services I suspect these are BT (or your carrier of choice) problems rather than technical problems as such.


Quote:
If there were no technical benefit, then the only justification for the considerable expense of a 03 number would be geographic anonymity. I am therefore inclined to believe that there is some technical benefit and this is not, as some suggest, just a myth put out by those who make money out of revenue sharing.


There are - its *much* easier to manage a non geo number in the grand world of telecoms - you don't have to worry about re-writing the routing tables for 1 number bang in the middle of a range. (If you do internet/networking as a job you can relate this to eBGP prefixes being advertised as the largest block you can, rather than every individual address or /32)

By virtue the non geo number is routed to 'someone' the bigger PTN (Public telephone network) doesn't have to worry about much more than getting the call to the hand-off point. What happens after that depends on the non geo provider. (I'm generally talking about providers with there own SS7 switches and things)


Quote:
An expert comment on this issue would be appreciated. Do non-geographic number offer technical benefits over geographic numbers?


I wouldn't call myself an 'expert' but I would say I'm fairley clued up on this stuff. There are going to be people out there who have worked for PTN's for 20 years just twitching to point out any errors I've made! I'm happy to point people in the right direction, but at the end of the day if your that interested in something start looking into it a bit deeper, there are lots of forums for telecoms people, and NNTP is still alive (I think)

A good example of network routing in the PTN world was shown on Sept 11th in the US. After the buildings came down an entire city number block got wiped off the AT&T network. At the time AT&T where still pushing calls towards the outlying nodes (or if you read my stuff up thread DJSU's in our case) those nodes where not able to progress the call to the end user, or any leaf node and would therefor jam every turnk line in and out of the city trying to route calls when there is no point. AT&T picked up on this and actually pulled the routes to the 'lost' number blocks from the entire network - in doing that it halted *every* attempt made to an invalid number from getting any further that the exchange it originated at.

E.g:

You are based in 01332 2 (Derby) and your trying to call 020 7484 (London) your call will transit the network till it hits the 020 cloud at that point your routed to the exchange its self (in this case 484) the exchange then connects you to the EU (End user) Say the 484 exchange fell into the underground and was forever lost - your call would still make it to the 020 cloud before it knew that 484 was gone and gave you the error tone, if everyone did the same thing soon the 020 cloud would be clogged. If you pull the datafil over the entire network for 020 7484 then anyone calling that would get the out of service tone soon as they entered the last digit of the above prefix - thatway the call (or its setup) will ever leave the 01322 2 exchange or node. Either way it cuts down the ammount of 'stuff' sent.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jul 7th, 2011 at 2:18am

Q wrote on Jul 7th, 2011 at 12:54am:

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jul 2nd, 2011 at 4:05pm:
With the benefit of a famous geek contributing to the forum, one must ask a commonly encountered question.

I Didn't think I was famous! I only have what, 6 posts to my name.

Q

Apologies, I must have thinking of a famous fictional character who shares your name.

Many thanks for your help.

I think that out of the interesting exposition on what is technically possible and what can be done under extreme conditions we did get a little insight into everyday reality with the statement:

Quote:
its *much* easier to manage a non geo number in the grand world of telecoms


If this means that the facility of unlimited call queueing may be more cheaply provided to a small business (e.g. a GP surgery), which believes that it needs the capability, on a non-geo than a geo number, then my question is fully answered. The fact that there are probably other far more suitable (and cheaper) ways of adequately meeting the true need of a surgery and its patients is a separate issue.

I simply wanted to be sure that the "non-geo numbers offer technical benefits" argument could not be totally dismissed as complete nonsense. I am not seeking to show that they are justified for any particular scenario, simply that such a proposal is not utterly preposterous.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by idb on Sep 28th, 2011 at 12:34pm

derrick wrote on Feb 9th, 2011 at 9:45am:
You don't ask,you don't get  ;)
Well I did ask, and got what I expected. Some excerpts from the Decision Notice:

1.
The complainant has requested the underlying geographical telephone number for Transport for London’s (“TfL”) 0843 travel information line. TfL withheld this information on the basis of the commercial interest exemption (section 43(2)).
2.
The Commissioner’s decision is that TfL was correct to withhold this information under this exemption.
3.
Therefore Commissioner does not require TfL to take any steps.
10.
The commercial interest exemption states that information is exempt if disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it).
11.
In this case the requested information relates to the main telephone number (0843 222 1234) for the TfL Transport Information Centre's helpline.1 The request is for the geographical number that underlies this 0843 number. TfL has explained that there are, in fact, a number of geographical numbers that underlie the 0843 number.
12.
TfL has withheld this information on the basis that disclosure would be likely to prejudice its commercial interests.
13.
In reaching a view on the application of this exemption the Commissioner has first considered whether the potential prejudice argued by TfL relates to the interest identified in this exemption – i.e. if the prejudice were to occur, would this prejudice relate to the commercial interests of TfL?
14.
TfL has informed the Commissioner that when a caller rings the 0843 telephone number, depending on the nature of their query, the call may be routed through one of several different geographic telephone numbers across multiple sites. It has further explained that, "Each of these call centres is run by one of several different suppliers on our behalf, each of whom deals with different aspects of London travel (e.g. bus enquiries, London Underground, refunds, etc). Each supplier is paid according to the number of calls handled." It has argued that if the withheld information were to be disclosed, this would result in calls being made to the wrong sites, which would require calls to be rerouted to the correct call centre. As each call centre supplier is paid according to the number of calls handled, this would result in increased costs to TfL.
15.
The Commissioner considers that the relationship between TfL and these service providers is of a commercial nature, in that it relates to the costs incurred through a commercial contract. Bearing this in mind, he is satisfied that the potential prejudicial effects argued by TfL do relate to its commercial interests.
16.
In addition to this, bearing in mind the above arguments, the Commissioner is satisfied that there is a causal relationship between the potential disclosure of the withheld information and prejudice to the commercial interests of TfL. Furthermore, he is satisfied that the resultant prejudice (if it were to occur) would be real and of substance.
17.
Next the Commissioner has gone on to consider whether the disclosure of this information would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of TfL.
18.
In reaching a decision on the question of the likelihood of prejudice the Commissioner considers that the expression ‘likely to prejudice’ means that the chance of prejudice being suffered should be more than a hypothetical possibility – there must be a real and significant risk.
19.
As noted above, TfL has informed the Commissioner that when a caller rings the 0843 telephone number, depending on the nature of the query, the call may be routed to one of several different call centres. Calls are routed to the correct call centre by the use of an Interactive Voice Response system ("IVR system") on the 0843 number. The call centres are run by different call centre suppliers, which handle calls on behalf of TfL in relation to specific aspects of London travel. TfL pays each supplier according to the number of calls that are handled by that supplier’s employees.
20.
TfL has argued that if the withheld information were to be disclosed there would be a significant chance that callers would call one of the geographic numbers (i.e. the withheld information) rather than the main 0843 number. It has referred the Commissioner to various websites promoting the use of geographic numbers, rather than central 08 telephone numbers, in order to support this argument.
21.
Without the IVR system in place to route calls to the correct call centre, given that there are a number of geographic telephone numbers that underlie the 0843 number, there would be a significant chance that many calls made directly to the geographic numbers would be made to the wrong call centre. These would then have to be rerouted to the correct call centre. The net result of this would be that two call centre suppliers (both the one who had received the incorrect call and the one to whom the call was redirected to) would then both be able to bill TfL for the handling of one call.

/cont...



Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by idb on Sep 28th, 2011 at 12:39pm
/...

22.
Bearing these points in mind, the Commissioner is satisfied that were the withheld information to be disclosed, this would be highly likely to result in TfL being unnecessarily billed multiple times for calls in relation to travel related queries. Given the current 'consumer campaigns' against the use of 08 numbers, the Commissioner considers that the chance of calls being made to the geographic numbers – if they were disclosed – to be highly likely. Given that these numbers relate to the transport information helpline for the nation's capital, he considers that the potential number of calls that would be made to these numbers is also high.
23.
Taking these factors into account, the Commissioner is satisfied that the disclosure of the withheld information would be likely to prejudice TfL's commercial interests. Therefore the exemption is engaged.
24.
However, the commercial interest exemption is qualified which means that the requested information should only be withheld where the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
27.
As regards the public interest in maintaining the exemption the Commissioner has been mindful of his conclusions that disclosure of the withheld information would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of TfL. He considers that there is a strong public interest in avoiding unwarranted prejudice to the commercial interests of public authorities.
28.
In balancing the public interest arguments in this case the Commissioner has been particularly mindful that disclosure of the withheld informationwould be likely to cause prejudice to the commercial interests of TfL. In particular, he is mindful of his above conclusions that given the current campaigns against the use of 08 numbers, and the fact that the withheld information relates to the transport information helpline for the nation’s capital, the chance of TfL being double billed for calls (therefore causing prejudice to its commercial interests) to be particularly likely to occur. Given this, he finds that the public interest in avoiding this prejudice particularly weighty.
29.
The Commissioner is aware that the use of 08 numbers by some public authorities (as well as many private businesses) is a matter of debate, and the focus of consumer campaigns. However, although there is a public interest in helping to inform this debate, the Commissioner does not consider that the disclosure of the withheld information would in any way contribute to the debate.
30.
TfL has acknowledged that there is a public interest in members of the public being able to potentially incur smaller charges by ringing a geographical number (rather than an 08 number). However, it has argued that this interest is somewhat defrayed by the information it puts in to the public domain through other sources. In particular, it has informed the Commissioner that it makes travel information publicly available through a number of different sources – namely its website; Travel Information Centres; information at its stations and bus stops; information in a regional newspaper; free mobile travel alerts; and a free weekly email to customers detailing weekend closures.
32.
Bearing in mind the travel information that is available through other TfL sources – in particular its website – the Commissioner considers that the public interest arguments in favour of disclosure are somewhat satisfied. He notes the complainant’s arguments about the availability of internet access in some locations, but considers that it is reasonable to state that information on a publicly accessible website can be considered to be generally publicly available, both nationally and internationally.
33.
Therefore, after considering these points the Commissioner has decided that the public interest in disclosure is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining the exemption. Therefore the withheld information should not be disclosed.

[end]

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 28th, 2011 at 12:54pm

idb wrote on Sep 28th, 2011 at 12:34pm:
Well I did ask, and got what I expected. Some excerpts from the Decision Notice: ...

What is potentially interesting about this decision is that the commercial interest which is deemed to override the public interest in disclosure is not that of the subsidy obtained from the revenue share on the 0843 number.

This case hinges on the fact that there is no direct one-to-one geographic equivalent number. Fans of FOI requests (I am not one) may be interested to attempt to pursue cases where there is expected to be a direct relationship between the Business Rate number and an underlying geographic number.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by catj on Sep 29th, 2011 at 10:28am
Maybe the information should be re-requested, asking for the individual geographic numbers for Tube, Bus, River, Refunds, Lost Property, etc.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Q on May 13th, 2014 at 7:35pm
There is another interesting request in progress (and very very overdue) which may shed a little light on some of technical aspects of the system & call centre setup. Including specific questions about revenue, and call times from landline & mobiles.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Heinz on May 14th, 2014 at 4:04pm

Q wrote on May 13th, 2014 at 7:35pm:
There is another interesting request in progress (and very very overdue) which may shed a little light on some of technical aspects of the system & call centre setup. Including specific questions about revenue, and call times from landline & mobiles.

2 things.

(1) Your post is on a thread which last had activity in 2011.

(2) Transport For London now have various* 0343 numbers and have dumped the 0843 ones they used to use.

* The main one is 0343 222 1234 (which replaced 0843 222 1234).  Check out the Unverified listings - they show some interesting additions.

Title: Re: FOI response - TfL
Post by Q on Jun 20th, 2014 at 7:22pm
Yep - I know this was an old post but still. Also the FoI enquirey I pointed out has been fully answered now along with info on the ammount of money TfL pay who to operate the phone systems.

They have a 240 inbound Call limit... Interesting

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