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NEG response to rip-off number ban (Read 9,315 times)
idb
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NEG response to rip-off number ban
Feb 27th, 2005 at 11:52pm
 
Source: http://www.countrydoctor.co.uk/precis/precis%20-%200870s%20banned,%20NEG%20respo...

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Ban on 0870 numbers for GPs – response from NEG

The Department of Health has announced today (Thursday February 24th) that the use of 0870 numbers by GPs is to be banned with effect from the end of April, reversing their previous policy statement.   NEG Plc, the company behind the numbers which are now installed in around 300 GPs’ surgeries across the UK , has made the following statement.

“We are aware of the concerns that patients were being charged too much to call their GP on 0870 numbers.  In fact, less than 1 in 300 patients at the practices involved objected to the use of 0870 numbers, whilst the majority of patients appreciated the improved service that the 0870 numbers were able to fund.  However, the decision to ban them has been made, and we do appreciate the Department of Health’s reservations. We are pleased that the department has endorsed the idea of changing 0870 numbers to the cheaper lo-call 0844 option, and we have been working with them over the past few weeks to ensure a smooth transition.  Our first concern is for our customers - we guarantee that any surgery which has an 0870 number at present will not be left without a phone number, and will continue to enjoy full use of the new telephone equipment we have installed for them.  We will be contacting all of the surgeries within the next few days to set up their new lo-call 0844 number as a matter of priority.”

All the parties involved in this issue are liaising closely to resolve any difficulties that may arise during the transition phase. Dr David Collin Thom, National Director for Primary Care, stated today: “We are working closely with NEG on this issue and we are also working with the practices who, with the best intentions, were trying to get a more effective telephone system….there is no dispute with them.”

The new 0844 numbers cost 4.2p per minute to call, the same as standard BT local call rates for the first minute. However, by changing over from a normal local rate number to an 0844 number, a GP can improve the service that they offer patients, reduce abuse to staff, improve patient access and continue to reduce DNA (did not attends) within general practice. The GP does not make a profit from using the number, but is able to divert funds away from BT in order to improve the service that the practice offers its patients.

Richard Chapman, CEO of NEG, commented on today’s announcement “GPs have now been given a clear signal from the Department of Health that the use of 0844 numbers is officially sanctioned, and that they are an excellent way for GPs to fund improved telephone access for the public.”

-ends-

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Alastair Campbell PR Contact            01858 44 55 43 / 07906 349 109
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« Last Edit: Feb 27th, 2005 at 11:53pm by idb »  

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kk
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Re: NEG response to rip-off number ban
Reply #1 - Feb 28th, 2005 at 12:57am
 
A “BT lo-call  0845” cost 3p/min during the day.  A “BT ContactCall  0844” cost 5p/min at all times. 

[a search of BT.com using "0844" gives info on BT ContactCall]

The Department of Health appears to have been seriously misled by NEG, when it describes an 0844 number as “lo-call”, when it is in fact a “BT ContactCall” costing almost twice as much, and at off peak times, even more.
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KK
 
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dorf
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Re: NEG response to rip-off number ban
Reply #2 - Feb 28th, 2005 at 11:10am
 
Yes but why are you all making the comparison to BT call costs? This is erroneous. To make a proper comparison you have to use 18866 or 1899 call costs. Then you can see just what a rip-off 0844 numbers are!
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Ofcom are completely ineffectual
 
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kk
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Re: NEG response to rip-off number ban
Reply #3 - Feb 28th, 2005 at 5:07pm
 
Hi dorf

You are absolutely correct, but unfortunately any detailed comparison with other telecom provider generally makes correspondence over complicated for the vast majority to understand (or want to understand) the issues.

What I usually do is compare with BT  01 and 02 prices, during the day, and say other providers charge a lot less, or in some cases nothing to make this or that call.
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KK
 
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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: NEG response to rip-off number ban
Reply #4 - Feb 28th, 2005 at 9:26pm
 
Quote:
Yes but why are you all making the comparison to BT call costs? This is erroneous. To make a proper comparison you have to use 18866 or 1899 call costs. Then you can see just what a rip-off 0844 numbers are!


No I don't agree as Jo Public and Jo Radio Presenter always get confused if you mention anything other than nice cosy old BT (guys so nice they have just defined 6am to 8am as part of the weekday peak calling period which their mates at Ofcom have amazingly enough agreed to).

To keep matters simple and in BT terms all you need to do is compare the cost of calling an 0844 number versus calling an 01 or 02 number for a BT Option 3 customer.  That comes out at 75p for a 15 minute call to an NEG 0844 number versus zero pence for a number starting 01 or 02.  Bang, bang NEG you're dead - simple.

By the way 0844 was basically originally designed to allow dialup ISPs to offer a better rate than 4p a minute to their customers in the weekday peak.  But of course since then exploitative voice call merchants have jumped on the gravy train.  The fact that there is no logical correlation between the number pattern dialled and the price per minute is really quite unbelievable.
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