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Sneaky National Rail Enquiries (Read 165,141 times)
Keith
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #30 - Jan 4th, 2007 at 2:41pm
 
Contiuned from previous post:

I wanted to call re a train enquiry but noted the numbers were 0845
>>>>numbers. As I have an inclusive call package with BT these are
>>>>expensive calls for me and effectively mean I pay for the call twice.
>>>>It is normal practise for organisations to provide a geographic number
>>>>for overseas calls which I was pleased to see you do and it is is
>>>>normal practise for people on inclusive plans to use these numbers if
>>>>an alternative geographic number is not given so as to avoid the double
>>>>charge.
>>>>
>>>>I tried your number for overseas calls and it was blocked. Why would
>>>>you do this? I do not know of any other organisation that does so and I
>>>>can't think of any rationale for doing so.
>>>>
>>>>This is frustrating as an 0845 number is no longer a 'Local' call these
>>>>having been replaced 2 years ago so for everyone the call costs at
>>>>least as much as a call to anywhere in the UK and for the large number
>>>>of people on inclusive plans like myself they are extremely bad value
>>>>as I should be able to make such a call free having paid a premium
>>>>already to do so. In fact I can call the USA and Australia for less!
>>>>
>>>>Can this block be taken off the International number please as it can
>>>>not benefit anyone by it being there.
>>>>
>>>>Many Thanks Keith.
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NGMsGhost
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #31 - Jan 4th, 2007 at 3:14pm
 
Keith,

National Rail Enquiries is actually operated by ATOC on behalf of all the train operating companies.  National Rail Enquiries is merely therefore an operating unit of ATOC.

Therefore to get a sensible reply on a policy based question you will need to email ATOC's CEO george.muir@atoc.org as I originally suggested.

Trying to getting an intelligent reply from the robotic life forms who usually work for customer services is unfortunately simply never going to happen.  I always remain baffled that some of you feel it is more productive to continue dealing with the customer service monkeys in an organisation rather than taking your question direct to the company's main organ grinder. Wink Roll Eyes
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Keith
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #32 - Jan 4th, 2007 at 3:19pm
 
NGMsGhost: Thanks. I normally do escalate to the top and will do so. The reason I didn't go to ATOC was that their web site specifically said they were not responsible for this.

One has to go thru' CS to start with as an escalation isn't fair. However I do despair as to how now a days questions are often just completely ignored. In other words the service is ABSOLUTELY NIL!
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NGMsGhost
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #33 - Jan 4th, 2007 at 3:49pm
 
Keith wrote on Jan 4th, 2007 at 3:19pm:
NGMsGhost: Thanks. I normally do escalate to the top and will do so. The reason I didn't go to ATOC was that their web site specifically said they were not responsible for this.

One has to go thru' CS to start with as an escalation isn't fair. However I do despair as to how now a days questions are often just completely ignored. In other words the service is ABSOLUTELY NIL!


In my experience in 70% of the UK's companies dealing with customer services/relations at all is a complete waste of time for someone like me since customer relations departments are designed only to deal with morons who only ring up with moronic questions I would always know the answer to.  My questions are always policy based and I have found always only able to be answered satisfactorily by a company's senior executives.  As my father was an MP for 25 years it became increasingly obvious to me that his constituents never got anywhere dealing only with customer service persons of various different organisations and action was usually only forthcoming when correspondence to the chief executive was involved (admittedly correspondence from an MP gets rather more attention but all correspondence to a CEO gets more attention than correspondence to customer services persons).

Hidden away on National Rail Enquiries website are a number of links to contact them for more information on their services.  These all produce the email address nationalrailenquiries@atoc.org  In other words Ventura operate the call centre and are responsible for perpetrating the 0845 number ripoff.  But ATOC and Mr Muir and his board colleagues at ATOC are responsible for taking the policy decisions which gave the contract for the 0845 call centre to Ventura in the first place.

Therefore it is Mr Muir and the Board Members of ATOC who are responsible for answering questions about the description and use of the 0845 number.

I missed seeing This Life+10 on Tuesday night on BBC Two and contacted BBC Information run by Capita in Belfast on their 0870 number (staff at BBC Broadcasting House in Belfast are now under instructions not to forward on calls to the 028 Belfast number I added to this website a while back) to be told they had not a clue when it might be shown again and knew nothing about any BBC programs beyond the next week.  I therefore emailed the show's Producer and the Controllers of BBC Two and BBC Three.  I now have an offer from the company that made This Life+10 to send me a DVD of the show free of charge and the Controller of BBC Three, Julian Bellamy, has replied personally to my email to say that BBC Three will not be reshowing This Life+10 but that repeat showings will be taking place on both BBC Two (where it aired on Tuesday night) and BBC Four in the Spring/Summer.  So once again no success at all with the monkeys where I am supposed to go but total satisfaction with the organ grinders.
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colin37400
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #34 - Jan 5th, 2007 at 3:25pm
 
NGMsGhost wrote on Jan 4th, 2007 at 3:49pm:
 So once again no success at all with the monkeys where I am supposed to go but total satisfaction with the organ grinders.


Point taken and essentially I agree, but as a general principle, it's a bit unfair to bombard board members etc. with emails without first trying the official route (as, indeed, you did by calling the info centre first).

Also, I think that an email or letter to a director will have a bit more impact if it's backed up with a chain of unsatisfactory responses from the relevant "customer services" departments or whatever. This lets them see that:
1. You're serious about resolving the issue,
2. You have tried the official route so aren't pestering them uneccessarily,
3. Their customer services are hopeless,
4. You're probably getting a bit p***ed off by the amount of time you've wasted so far.
I would imagine these factors would combine to make a productive response more likely.

That said I will certainly be emailing George Muir as you suggest, if it seems that taking the matter up with Passenger Focus isn't getting anywhere.

In the meantime I'm glad to see that a few others have registered their dissatisfaction with NRE... the more the merrier ...
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #35 - Jan 8th, 2007 at 7:01pm
 
Hi

Please note that the 0191 218 8004 number is now not available as when used says not recognised! Great  Angry
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NGMsGhost
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #36 - Jan 8th, 2007 at 7:50pm
 
Hutch wrote on Jan 8th, 2007 at 7:01pm:
Hi

Please note that the 0191 218 8004 number is now not available as when used says not recognised! Great  Angry


Its not the fault of this site its because nasty ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies) who run National Rail enquiries have allowed the 0191 number to be closed down.

Email the CEO of ATOC to express your displeasure on this matter - george.muir@atoc.org
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colin37400
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #37 - Jan 11th, 2007 at 4:51pm
 
Interim response from Passenger Focus:

(http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/, they are the UK Rail consumer watchdog)


Dear ++++++

Thank you for writing to us about the difficulties you’ve had with National Rail Enquiries.

I’m sorry to hear that you’re unhappy with their response to your complaint and have felt it necessary to ask for our help.

We will look into your complaint carefully and will be in touch to let you know whether we can help you further.  We always try to respond in full within 35 working days – this is to allow us time to investigate your complaint and allow NRES time to respond to us.  If for any reason we need longer, we will keep you up to date.

Thank you for your patience while we look into things for you.  Please feel free to contact me if you need my help in the meantime – my details are above.

                       

Yours sincerely

                       

Sharon Rattigan

Passenger Contact Advisor
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Keith
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #38 - Jan 11th, 2007 at 10:45pm
 
I rec'd the following email following the previous fruitless attemps at a sensible response. I have to say that although I didn't get the answers I wanted to hear at least (much to my surprise) the points in my email were actually read and responded to intelligently. Here is the first response. In the next post is my reply and the third post the reply to that. I haven't responded to that email yet.


Dear Keith

I've been asked to look at an email conversation that has been taking place
between you and our Online Team.

It appears that there is some confusion within our Online Team about how
comments of this nature should be dealt with - they should be forwarded on your
behalf to our Customer Relations team. I'm sorry that this wasn't done, and can
appreciate how frustrating this must have been to you. I will ensure that this is fed back to our contact centre management team. However, I hope that I can address the concerns that you've raised:

We are regulated by the Department for Transport (DfT). They require us to offer a local rate telephone number for everyone in the UK. BT's 0845 numbers are the only way that we can offer this fixed local cost to everyone across the UK. These
numbers are not associated with a particular location in the country, and so
therefore are have a fixed cost to the caller that is not distance-dependant. In
addition, 0845 numbers provide us with the ability to route our calls more flexibly.
 
Messages about service disruption can also be played to callers before connecting
them to our advisers, which reduces queuing time if information can be given as
soon as possible. This helps us to run our call centres effectively. Additionally the
following facilities are also important:
 
* They are non-geographic - which means they cost the same to call from anywhere; this makes them equivalent for all callers
* They offer resiliency and business continuity - in the event of overload or disaster calls can seamlessly be routed to another location without the caller needing to know or re-dial
* They allow for "load balancing" - i.e. distributing calls across multiple locations, in order to improve answer times.

We appreciate that people calling from outside the UK may not be able to access
0845 numbers from abroad, and therefore offer a geographic number to
international callers. You will only be connected if you are calling from outside the
UK to this number.  Some countries will not connect callers to 0845 or 0870
numbers, as they classify these calls as premium rate, the cost of which they will
have to absorb.  If the country does allow calls to non-geographic numbers, they
may charge an additional fee. By offering a UK geographic number, we are trying to keep the cost of calling us as low as possible for International Callers.

The reason that we have taken the step to block those calls made from within the
UK to the 020 7278 5240 number is that BT does not allow us to offer the facilities
I've mentioned above. It would have a significant impact on the business and our
customers if we were to allow people to use the 0207 number - customer who call
on the International Line may find that they are waiting longer for their call to be
answered than those who call the 08457 484950 number.

I appreciate that you can't benefit from BT's inclusive offer by calling 0845 numbers, but I'd like to put this into context. When you call us, the introduction announcement takes an average of 27.5 seconds (16 seconds if you call from a land line and 39 seconds if you call from a mobile). This is because we offer different added value services if you call from a mobile phone (for example, 'text my journey').  Once these announcements are made, you join the queue - from this point over the four weeks 20 November to 17 December, it has taken an average of 20.3 seconds to answer calls.  For the same period, the 'average handling time' (the time you spend speaking to an adviser) was 1 min and 45 seconds. So, the average call length was approximately 2mins 33 seconds. At BT's call rates (see BT's website - http://www.downloads.bt.com/pricing/SpecialisedNos.pdf) the average call to National Rail Enquiries' 0845 number is 7.5p during the daytime, 2.5p during the evening and 1.25p at the weekend.
 
As I explained earlier, we are regulated by the Department for Transport (DfT), who requires us to offer the 0845 number. If you wish to escalate your complaint further, you may wish to speak to the DfT's directly. If so, you can send a letter to them at the address below. The DfT aim to respond to all letters and faxes within 20 working days of receipt.

Department for Transport
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DR

Telephone: 020 7944 8300
Fax: 020 7944 9643

Thank you taking the time to contact us. I hope this helps explain why we don't offer geographical telephone numbers to access our service.

Have a nice weekend.
 
Kind regards


Ben Payne
Information Content Manager
National Rail Enquiries
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Keith
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #39 - Jan 11th, 2007 at 10:46pm
 

Ben,

Thank you for your email. It is encouraging to get a detailed and comprehensive
response that specifically deals with the issues that I raised. I appreciate that.

Can I respond to a couple of points you raise that I would question:

a) You state that the Dept of Transport require you to offer a Local Rate telephone number and you refer to 0845 as low cost.

0845 used to be the same cost as local rate calls, but it isn't now and hasn't been
for sometime. Firstly Local Rate calls ceased to exist in 2004 I think and for most
people 0845 numbers cost  more than any call they could make to anywhere in the UK. So although you may have been meeting the Department of Transport
requirements when this was set up you can not be any longer. To give you an
example I am on a pretty typical BT tariff and I can call the USA and Australia for
less  than I can call an 0845 number during a weekday. That to me sounds
unreasonable. Recently I had to take part in an international conference call and it was cheaper for me to phone the Swedish number for participants than the UK
0845 number which was based in Wiltshire!

b) You say that because 0845 numbers cost the same from anywhere in the UK
(with which I agree) this makes them equivalent for all callers.

This is not the case because everyone these days has some sort of package from
their telephone supplier. So again taking me for instance I have paid for an all
inclusive package. This means I would like to think I have already paid for this call and I do not expect to pay for it again. I am paying more than someone who is not on an inclusive package because I still have to pay for the call and I'm paying more so I can get so called foc calls!

c) You put the cost to me in context to demonstrate how little it is.

I agree it is - it is just pennies. But this is just one 0845/0870 call I have to make.
Until I became more careful of these numbers I notched up around £200 on these
numbers in a single quarter on my business line. That is not trivial.

d) You argue that the cost would be greater for those International callers who use 0845 from abroad because they are treated as premium numbers or attract an additional charge.

I agree, but that is exactly what is happening to me and most others because just
about everyone is on some sort of tariff which bars these numbers from the tariff
discounts and hence we are all therefore paying a 'premium' to call them.

If it is a good enough reason for doing it for them then it should be a good enough for the rest of us.

e) You state I might have to wait if I use the international number.

Surely that is my decision. I can put my telephone on speaker phone and carry on working while waiting for someone to answer. As mentioned I know of no other organisation who bars their International number and I use an awful lot of them.

Thank you again for your response. Hopefully my reply encourage you change your policy on the international number. Ideally I would prefer that the dreaded 0845 number was done away with, but I appreciate that is unlikely in the short term, but hopefully you will move across to the new 03 numbers when they are available.

Regards Keith.

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Keith
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #40 - Jan 11th, 2007 at 10:47pm
 
Keith

Thank you for your email.  I do appreciate that you have raised some very valid
points - as you mention, the arrangement we have with the DfT was indeed made
before the change to the tariffs and other charged made by BT in 2004.

As I said in my last email, we won't be unblocking the international number to UK
callers, but will certainly make sure that you comments are taken forward to our
Operation Manager for consideration in future business decisions.

I appreciate that this may not be the response you were hoping for, but there is little that the National Rail Enquiries team can do to remedy your complaint further. You may of course raise your concerns with the DfT, using the contact details I provided previously.

You may also wish to escalate your concerns about the way BT and other phone
companies charge for calling non-geographical telephone number. You are
probably aware that Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industry. There contact details are:

     Ofcom,
     Riverside House,
     2a Southwark Bridge Road,
     London,
     SE1 9HA
     Tel 020 7981 3000 (Switchboard)
     Fax: 020 7981 3333

Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Kind regards



Ben Payne
Information Content Manager
National Rail Enquiries

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Dave
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #41 - Jan 12th, 2007 at 9:12pm
 
BT's website markets these numbers (and other 08 and 09 numbers). BT 0845 is here.

Notice no mention of 'local rate' now, just a monetary amount.
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #42 - Jan 13th, 2007 at 12:08am
 
Keith wrote on Jan 11th, 2007 at 10:45pm:
* They are non-geographic - which means they cost the same to call from anywhere; this makes them equivalent for all callers
* They offer resiliency and business continuity - in the event of overload or disaster calls can seamlessly be routed to another location without the caller needing to know or re-dial
* They allow for "load balancing" - i.e. distributing calls across multiple locations, in order to improve answer times.

Ben Payne
Information Content Manager
National Rail Enquiries


Can't believe they are still trying on this 4/5 year old and totally inaccurate line given to them years ago by their telco supplier's sales person.

Just point them to the following.  Tell them they are wrong and to get it changed.  Threaten to go to the ASA with your complaint if they do not comply with your request.

See the following:-

The view of a county council trading standards department

Para 1.3 Page 1 of www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/oftel_0845/responses/leicester_cc.pdf

and

the view of the CEO of BT Retail, Ian Livingston

http://business.scotsman.com/banking.cfm?id=764772005

and

two recent guidances from the Advertising Standards Authority

www.asa.org.uk/cap/news_events/news/2005/Hanging+on+the+telephone+on+and+on+and+...

www.asa.org.uk/cap/news_events/news/2005/Stop+the+call+confusion.htm

and
the Parliamentary Early Day motion deploring the use of 0870 telephone numbers by government departments

http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=28872%09%09%09%09%09%09%09&...; amp;SESSION=875

and

Another guidance from the Committee of Advertising Practice of the Advertising Standards Authority

www.cap.org.uk/cap/news_events/news/2005/CAP+rings+the+changes+for+telecoms+prov...

and Pages 5 and 6 of the below minutes from my own district council where we agreed policy to stop the future use of 0845 and 0870 numbers.

www.molevalley.gov.uk/media/pdf/1/s/Council_Minutes_190705.pdf

And the most recent ASA guidance saying that Inclusive call packages must not fail to disclose in marketing that 084/7 calls are excluded from them because they are not charged at geographic call rates and cost more.

www.cap.org.uk/cap/news_events/news/2006/Ringing+the+Changes.htm
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« Last Edit: Jan 13th, 2007 at 12:11am by NGMsGhost »  

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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #43 - Jan 13th, 2007 at 6:40pm
 
And BT (etc) can route calls in the event of a disaster. I used to keep such standing instructions set up in a (very) senior BT Manager's office in case of need - and instant implementation.
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Re: Sneaky National Rail Enquiries
Reply #44 - Jan 17th, 2007 at 9:27pm
 
I phoned National Express some time back on their land line number and while we were talking about timetables etc. I told the call centre operator about the rip-off of the 0870 and 0845 prefixes and the www.saynoto0870.com site.

This operator told me they were unaware that these prefixes were so expensive for some users and said that they will promote the site to everyone they knows.   It seems many people are unaware or just apathetic about the rip-off problem that has infested out telecoms structure for years.

As for Ofcom: this org. is as much use as a chocolate fireguard. It is heaving with overpaid committees consisting of Lords and Ladies etc who have no conception whatsoever of everyday life on the street, sit at their shiny desks, go home to their mansions and London bolt-holes and dont give a toss, quite frankly! Plus callcentre ops that are liken to robots dishing out the same crap the BBC dish out to complainants. Their standard replies to emails and written enquiries are pathetic.

I have dealt with Ofcom on a different matter and they are a useless as a regulator for my concerns as they are with telecommunications.  

I have had success with obtaining geo numbers and Box Clever ex Granada TVrental always phone me back immediately when they are asked by me to do this. Maybe this is just my local branch but I try this tack and succeed sometimes.  

Betty
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« Last Edit: Jan 17th, 2007 at 9:29pm by bettyboop »  
 
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