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Reply from the UK Passport Agency regarding 0870 (Read 14,015 times)
idb
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Reply from the UK Passport Agency regarding 0870
Jan 4th, 2005 at 6:42pm
 
Thank you for your e-mail of 22 December expressing your concern about
the use of 0870 numbers by the UK Passport Service.  I am very sorry for
the delay in responding to you.

The Passport Service presently use a number of 0870 numbers, including
the number for our main Adviceline, which handles a mixture of general
enquiries, progress enquiries, appointment booking, etc.  The Passport
Service has used 0870/non geographical telephone numbers for several
years, because they provide an element of flexibility in where calls are
answered, which would not be possible with a normal BT
landline/geographical numbers.

As you indicate, the 0870 numbers generate a small income for the
Passport Service, which helps to subsidize our telephone services.
However, this income is minimal when compared with the overall cost of
running the Service's Adviceline and other telephone service, which are
paid from the passport fee. 

The Passport Service has investigated the use of freephone or local rate
numbers instead of 0870 numbers in the past, but the use of such numbers
would have resulted in substantially increased costs, which would have
needed to be reflected in a passport fee increase.  As only around half
of our customers telephone the Passport Service, it was not considered
fair that those customers who choose to call for assistance should be
subsidized by those customers who do not call.  The Passport Service has
continued, therefore, to use 0870 numbers.  The COI's recommendations
regarding the description of a national rate however have been noted.

As you are aware, the UK Passport Service issues passports to British
nationals resident in the UK.  Non-UK residents are directed to the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office who will be able to deal with their
application and provide any relevant advice.  There is also the option
of e-mailing the UK Passport Service if an individual is located abroad.

I hope that this makes our position clear.
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Tanllan
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Re: Reply from the UK Passport Agency regarding 08
Reply #1 - Jan 4th, 2005 at 6:51pm
 
Quote:
The Passport Service has investigated the use of freephone or local rate
numbers instead of 0870 numbers in the past, but the use of such numbers
would have resulted in substantially increased costs, which would have
needed to be reflected in a passport fee increase.

Hmm, they should find a better telecoms provider if they really are told this.

I could accept their argument about having to increase the passport fee if they did not confuse 087 and 084. 084 would generate income and not be so punitive if one has to call.

Freephone would, of course, require them to pay, but even 0845 would provide an inpayment for them. Most providers would trample on the competition to have that volume of traffic.

It's 2005, does no-one have any proper telecoms support?

Come on Passport Office.
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idb
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Re: Reply from the UK Passport Agency regarding 08
Reply #2 - Jan 4th, 2005 at 7:02pm
 
From replies I have received, it seems that UK government's only response relates to 0870 versus 0845 and 0800. All my queries request geographic numbers - this is conveniently overlooked by UKPA, DVLA, FCO and all the rest of the agencies. I can only conclude that UK government is entirely clueless in matters relating to telecommunications and providing services to British citizens that are resident overseas. It is a disgrace.
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kk
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Re: Reply from the UK Passport Agency regarding 08
Reply #3 - Jan 4th, 2005 at 9:22pm
 
Hi idb,

Why don’t you send a letter (or email with your address) to the Passport Office and head it “Freedom of Information Act 2000” and ask the following questions:

Dear Sir,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 - re your letter dated .... 2004.

1)    You say in your letter that the income from using a 0870 is minimal. Can you provide me with documents justifying that statement and the figures involved. What percentage of your overall cost does this figure represent?

2)     You say that you have investigated the use of free-phone or local rate number instead of a 0870 number.  Can you provide me with the results of your investigation?

3)     What do you mean by the term “a local rate number”?

4)     Have you investigated using a geographical telephone number and re-routing calls, as required?  If so can you send me details of your investigation?

5)     You mention the COI.  Have you held any meeting to consider the COI recommendations and if so can you provide me with the minutes of that meeting and the reasons for not following any COI recommendations.

Yours etc ................


They will have 20 working days to answer.

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idb
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Re: Reply from the UK Passport Agency regarding 08
Reply #4 - Jan 4th, 2005 at 9:42pm
 
I have already sent in a request for similar information to the DVLA under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I will follow up with the UKPA soon, however the DVLA is far more annoying as it has lied to me. I suspect the DVLA will find a way out of providing the requested information (essentially a means whereby British citizens can actually call the agency from overseas!) so the next step will be an appeal to the Information Commissioner. The DVLA has acknowledged receipt of my request. We'll see what happens after twenty days. Government agencies are discriminating against foreign-based British citizens and this has to stop! I've just about had enough of the DVLA, FCO, UKPA and others spouting out complete garbage about NGNs.
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kk
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Re: Reply from the UK Passport Agency regarding 08
Reply #5 - Jan 4th, 2005 at 10:10pm
 
As the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force on 1st Jan 2005 all requests must be dated on or after this.
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kjones
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Re: Reply from the UK Passport Agency regarding 08
Reply #6 - Jan 9th, 2005 at 2:30am
 
I am new to this forum, but quite aware of what is going on with 0870 numbers. My mother had her handbag stolen in Spain, and had I not been here in the UK, what would she have done? They had mobile phones but were barred from making 0870 number calls, and in any case called me and I phoned the Passport Office, who kept me hanging on for ages and then the man was so rude I nearly hung up!  This was an emergency and to have to call an 0870 number in the first place was disgraceful, but if I hadn't have been in the UK to do this for them, what could they have done? Prayed?

Since I discovered this site, if any company/person gives me an 0870 number to call back on (e.g if I don't have information to hand etc.), I ask for their geographic number and tell them that I will be either phoning from a mobile that doesn't let me call 0870 numbers, or 0870 numbers are barred from the phone I am calling from. They quickly say that they will call me back, but never offer an alternative number to ring on.  If I say I am calling from abroad, more often than not they will give me the geographic number which I am now taking note of so I can post here!!
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