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OFTEL and 0990 / 0870 (Read 30,546 times)
Flutty
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NO to revenue sharing
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OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Feb 10th, 2005 at 8:29pm
 
This may of interest to others in the forum. Back in 1993 I wrote to the then OFTEL complaining about 0990 numbers (these were changed to 0870 during the big number change).
OFTEL totally rejected the idea that any form of revenue sharing was possible on these numbers and also stated that all users of these numbers should always clearly show the cost of the call.
So you can see how powerful OFTEL / OFCOM are, 12 years later and hardly anyone advertises the costs of these calls. So dont hold your breath for OFCOM to do anything.
I have now written to OFCOM with a copy of the letter and their reply, it will be very interesting to see how they respond to their lack of action.
Watch this space  Grin

Flutty
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kk
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #1 - Feb 11th, 2005 at 5:09pm
 
Can you post a copy of the letter here?
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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #2 - Feb 13th, 2005 at 12:01am
 
Quote:
So you can see how powerful OFTEL / OFCOM are, 12 years later and hardly anyone advertises the costs of these calls. So dont hold your breath for OFCOM to do anything.


About 3 years ago I managed to speak on the phone to the then OFTEL Director responsible for the 084/087 NTS issue.

He was a former BT man and basically totally patronising in his approach which was that as there was massive price competition for the best deal for those wishing to set up 0870 numbers that OFTEL was totally happy with the situation and saw no need to get involved.  When then quizzed on the extra calling cost issue and lack of competition for retail consumers he then just fell back on the excuse that it was only the same price as the BT Local Rate and National Rate. 

I pointed out that people like AXS Telecom (which then became Liberty Surf and then Tiscali) were only charging 2p per minute for geographic phone calls but he completely ducked this one as it wasn't costing standard BT Joe Bloggs on Standard BT line rental any more, even though of course it was because 0870 numbers were always excluded from Friends and Family and My Best Friend calling discounts.

My perception of OFCOM, as opposed to Oftel, is that the place was manned from top to bottom by loads of former BT staff and that they were only going through the motions by recommending a few small price reductions here and there while BT still racked up huge profits.

I see absolutely no reason why the phone industry was not broken up in the same way as happened for gas and electricity and had this happened I would not have to pay BT £168 for keeping a thin copper wire connected into my house even though I do not make a single phone call with that company.  By contrast Sutton & East Surrey Water only charge me £20 a year to keep my water pipe connected to the house and the bill is only about £70 per annum including all the water for a 2 bedroom apartment.
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Flutty
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #3 - Feb 15th, 2005 at 4:06pm
 
I have sent off my letter to Ofcom, Recorded Delivery, as they are very fond of mislaying correspondence. As soon as I have a reply I will post up both their reply and my original letter from them in 93/95.

Flutty
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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #4 - Feb 15th, 2005 at 10:10pm
 
Quote:
I have sent off my letter to Ofcom, Recorded Delivery, as they are very fond of mislaying correspondence. As soon as I have a reply I will post up both their reply and my original letter from them in 93/95.

Flutty


I do hope Stepen Carter (CEO) does not refer your letter to his Head of Policy, Kip Meek.

Unfortunately the said gentleman seems to totally live up to his name by never mustering the energy to actually reply to any letter passed to him by his boss (presumably he is always on a permanent Kip) and any form of policy output is always suitably Meek (as per Ofcom's pathetic NTS papers on the Call Termination Market Review and NTS Options for the Future).

Both of these documents essentially stated that Ofcom's preferred position was to make the current unbridled banditry even easier and more flexible for the telecoms industry to conduct.  They also seemed to be on a complete Kip regarding the question of the need for any form of additional consumer protection.
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mikeinnc
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #5 - Feb 16th, 2005 at 3:36am
 
I recently sent an email to Ofcom complaining about the Premium rate 0870 numbers and post here the complete reply. It provides an interesting insight into their "official" position. Note they DO provide a geographic number as well as a 0845 number!

*******************

Thank you for your recent e-mail to Ofcom. By way of background, I should explain that 0845 and 0870 numbers are known as Number Translation Services (NTS), i.e. the non-geographic number sits on top of a geographic number. 

The NTS regime was created to encourage development of reasonably priced, nationwide single contact numbers for businesses and organisations to provide information and contact services to consumers. The 0845/0870 range is intended for &#8216;value-added&#8217; services, that is, the caller gains value beyond the conveyance of the call. Value-added services include information and contact services and the revenue generated from the call may contribute to its provision and improved customer service.

Not all service providers use such numbers specifically to earn revenue from calls. The level of payments received for each call is in fact very small and service providers often choose 08 numbers for other reasons, such as to use advanced call answering features which can be used to vary the way calls are answered and routed depending on time of day or location of caller.

However, whilst it remains the commercial decision of service providers as to what type of number they wish to use to offer their services, Ofcom is aware of growing consumer dissatisfaction with the increasing use of 0870 numbers for information and access services. As a result, we are now actively working with advertising regulators and consumer bodies to agree how prices for calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers should be advertised in order to minimise the risk of consumers being misled.

We are also re-examining the way in which the entire NTS regime operates and we are consulting on our proposals.  One of the possible options could be to require originating operators to provide price warnings of the prices of NTS calls before connecting the call, but we have not finalised any views yet.

The consultation is available on our website at

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/ntsoptions/

If you are interested in receiving further updates on this subject, you may wish to register for the automatic notification of telecoms related updated at

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/subscribe/select_list.htm

Yours sincerely

Katy Emadi
Ofcom Contact Centre :: Telecoms Support
contact@ofcom.org.uk

:: Ofcom
    Riverside House
    2a Southwark Bridge Road
    London SE1 9HA
    020 7981 3040
    0845 456 3000
    www.ofcom.org.uk
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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #6 - Feb 16th, 2005 at 9:41am
 
Quote:
Ofcom is aware of growing consumer dissatisfaction with the increasing use of 0870 numbers for information and access services. As a result, we are now actively working with advertising regulators and consumer bodies to agree how prices for calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers should be advertised in order to minimise the risk of consumers being misled.

We are also re-examining the way in which the entire NTS regime operates and we are consulting on our proposals.


So consumers are only unhappy about 0870 according to Ofcom then?

Speaking personally I am even more incensed about the misuse of 0845 numbers, most of whom are run by non profit making organisations with a duty to provide services to the taxpayer, that is the general public, who are already paying for the operation of these organisations.

Most of the 0845 operators are in non competitive market segments where there is no rival company you can take your business too and so there is no alternative place to where the member of the public can take their telephone business.

Even the BT board, who set up this scam, are now so ashamed of its excessive successes that they want revenue sharing banned on 0845 and 0870 although strangely not on 0871 which if allowed would be a complete coach and horses through what would otherwise be a very worthwhile change.

One hopes that the Ofcom contact centre people are behind the times and that in view of the strength of views that Ofcom have received (including those of their own Consumer Panel who are clearly very unimpressed with the preferred Option 2 Ofcom position) that they will be forced into going with their own Option 4 or some very close derivative thereof.

0870 and 0845 is now so widely entrenched on such a massively abusive scale that the only solution is to turn them back into ordinary price local and national rate calls and to require any of the scamster minded commercial operators (eg Easyjet and TopUpTv who both use 0871) to go through the much tougher controls of ICSTIS 09 price regulation (this would include call tariff warning announcements).

Ofcom's current position that a  bit more information to the public on the cost of the calls would stop 0845 and 0870 in their tracks is totally wrong.  It is too late.  Things have moved on too far.  Too much has been spent on promoting the numbers.  Some of the numbers have no geographic counterparts etc.

The only solution is to prevent all 084 and 087 revenue sharing and to get 084 ISPs to migrate to another number range - eg commencing 04.  Dial Up ISPs are a dying business anyway so this will just help speed up the final migration to cable and broadband internet and also assist with further reduced broadband pricing.
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idb
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #7 - Feb 16th, 2005 at 3:09pm
 
Quote:
[...] However, whilst it remains the commercial decision of service providers as to what type of number they wish to use to offer their services, Ofcom is aware of growing consumer dissatisfaction with the increasing use of 0870 numbers for information and access services. As a result, we are now actively working with advertising regulators and consumer bodies to agree how prices for calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers should be advertised in order to minimise the risk of consumers being misled.

We are also re-examining the way in which the entire NTS regime operates and we are consulting on our proposals.  One of the possible options could be to require originating operators to provide price warnings of the prices of NTS calls before connecting the call, but we have not finalised any views yet. [...]
This is worrying. It implies that these numbers will continue. I suspect that most people who use this resource do not care how 0870 is charged, advertised or operated - we just want to see the end of rip-off numbers as there is no need for them. Ofcom, as usual, will do very little and will of course favor the big businesses and other rip-off merchants that spam these numbers all over the UK. There will be little use for local phone books in a couple of years - any business in the UK will simply have an 0871 number for extortion purposes and the UK public will just go along with it as it can't be bothered to complain. Just who is Ofcom supposed to be protecting? Not me, that's for sure.
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As from November 21, 2013, I no longer participate in the forum and am unable to receive private messages.
 
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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #8 - Feb 16th, 2005 at 3:22pm
 
Quote:
This is worrying. It implies that these numbers will continue.

No the scam probably won't continue for much longer.  The original NTS Options for the Future Ofcom report (on which their current letters to the public are based) was written by some telecoms industry friendly idiot there (in fact I think his name is probably Geoff Brighton) but the level of wrath in the responses is such that Ofcom will have to do more than they originally proposed, especially now that MPs are asking questions to government departments and now that the COI have again changed their guidance to say that Intelligent Call Routing is available on geographic numbers.

Read both Page 21 of the BT response and the Ofcom Consumer Panel response here (www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/ntsoptions) and you will realise that the game has to be up for 0845 and 0870 in their current form.  It is just a matter of time.  The only solution is to reclassify them at the same prices as geographic phone calls with no revenue share and tough luck if any businesses go under as a result.

Matt Peacock at Ofcom's suggestion that all non geo numbers can have their geo equivalent number published instead is baloney when some of them don't actually have a geo equivalent at all because they are VOIP routed or because the call can be shunted round one of 6 different regional centres.  The only solution is for them to cost no more than other uk geographic calls.  Full stop.  End of story.  Instant solution.
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peeweeel
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #9 - Feb 16th, 2005 at 7:51pm
 
[quote author=NonGeographicalMan Matt Peacock at Ofcom's suggestion that all non geo numbers can have their geo equivalent number published instead is baloney when some of them don't actually have a geo equivalent at all because they are VOIP routed or because the call can be shunted round one of 6 different regional centres.  The only solution is for them to cost no more than other uk geographic calls.  Full stop.  End of story.  Instant solution. [/quote]

But that still leaves anyone who is on an inclusive package paying twice for the 084/087 call
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bill
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #10 - Feb 16th, 2005 at 9:48pm
 
Quote:
But that still leaves anyone who is on an inclusive package paying twice for the 084/087 call
Whether it would or wouldn't I don't know.

What I do know is I've not yet found one of those 'inclusive' packages which costs less than I pay using 18866 during the week and OneTel's StandardUKTalk at weekends.  A so-called 'inclusive' package invariably costs £9.99 or so - that's more than 30 calls each day, every day, using 18866.
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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #11 - Feb 16th, 2005 at 10:16pm
 
Quote:
But that still leaves anyone who is on an inclusive package paying twice for the 084/087 call


No it doesn't leave you paying twice for 0845 and 0870 under the current BT proposals.

The BT proposal is that 0845 and 0870 numbers are normalised in every respect and for billing purpose become exactly the same as a geographic number, even though unfortunately the area code still won't give you a clue as to where the number is actually located.

So in summary with say 18866 a 20 minute call to an 0870 number would could cost you 1p and on BT Option 3 a 20 minute call to an 0870 number would cost you zilch.

The whole NTS scam is now so exposed that the companies concerned on 0870 would just have to take the loss of revenue and none of them could face the public loathing associated with moving on to 0906.  Also as 20 minute queues would not be allowed on 0906 most of the 0870 merchants simply wouldn't be able to comply with ICSTIS's terms and conditions.  There is no way Easyjet would dare risk 0906 in view of how long they can keep you waiting sometimes.
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kk
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #12 - Feb 16th, 2005 at 10:48pm
 
NonGeographicalMan puts the case against 087x and 0845 numbers in his usual lucid and comprehensive way. 

For completeness - and noting the call box scam previously highlighted by N G Man – he must also mean that dialling a 0870 and 0845 numbers from a call box should also cost the same as dialling an 01/02 number.

The scam is so scandalous, it is worth repeating again and again.  From a BT call box, 0870 and 0845 numbers both cost the same; which is surprising to say the least.  And the cost of both calls is,   10p for every 55 seconds plus a 10p connection fee.  01/02 numbers cost 10p for 7.5 minutes plus a 10p connection fee.  (All subject to a minimum 30p charge).

KK
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KK
 
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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #13 - Feb 16th, 2005 at 11:55pm
 
Quote:
NonGeographicalMan puts the case against 087x and 0845 numbers in his usual lucid and comprehensive way.  

For completeness - and noting the call box scam previously highlighted by N G Man – he must also mean that dialling a 0870 and 0845 numbers from a call box should also cost the same as dialling an 01/02 number.


I didn't realise BT charged a 10p connection fee from the payphones too.  That is even more scandalous when there is no connection fee (apart from the 5p minimum but at least that buys you call time) from any residential BT landline.  The people I called on the BT payphone helpline didn't tell me about that little scam and I must confess I do not use a BT payphone for many of my calls.  Especially not now that they are no longer the cheapest way to make 0870 calls.

But yes I do mean that the BT proposal to Ofcom (their so called modified Option 2 which is actually more like Option 3) is that 0870 and 0845 calls will not cost any more than the BT Payphone rate for 01 and 02 calls.

The BT response to Ofcom talks about all 0870 and 0845 calls being charged at the BT Retail local and BT Retail national rates in future, which is a little wooly to say the least given that they do not actually currently have a BT Retail local and national rate (they only have BT Standard and BT Option 1, 2 and 3 call rates).

So to resolve this confusion I spoke at length on her mobile number (12p per minute even with 18866 - ouch) to Kath Embleton who is named as the contact on the front of the BT Consultation document and quite clearly wrote most of it.  I spoke to Kath before her mobile number was pulled from the front of the document a week or two ago.

Kath made it perfectly clear that the BT board's wish is for 0845 and 0870 numbers to be normalised to the same price as other 01 and 02 calls and that although there isn't a single BT Retail local and national rate at present that is what they mean and want to introduce.

She is a very frank northern lady who on her own admission is nearing retirement with BT and she likened some of the anomalies in BT's pricing structures and call tariffs to being a bit like "a dog living with fleas".  It was very refreshing to know that somebody as unpolitically correct as Kath was behind the BT response (although obviously the whole BT board looked at it and signed it off).  Its also clear that BT were originally behind the development of NTS but I don't think that even the BT board imagined the present use/misuse of these numbers going as far as it now has and clearly the water has now got far too hot even for them.

So in summary unless Ofcom have a death wish and completely ignore BT's own consumer friendly proposal the days of 0845 and 0870 phone call overcharging would appear to be quite literally numbered
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Dave
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Re: OFTEL and 0990 / 0870
Reply #14 - Feb 17th, 2005 at 8:22pm
 
Quote:
...Its also clear that BT were originally behind the development of NTS but I don't think that even the BT board imagined the present use/misuse of these numbers going as far as it now has and clearly the water has now got far too hot even for them.

Let's not forget that the prices of these numbers have been kept high to allow competition into the 084/087 market. As new providers entered the market they (presumably, in their wisdom) decided to provide revenue as an incentive to their 'customers'. This was nothing to do with BT! This, in turn, has fuelled the greed of businesses (even small ones) to change to these numbers.

Now BT wish to reduce the price paid to these providers. Won't this just force some out and affirm BT's domination of the market?
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