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COI update (Read 31,270 times)
idb
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COI update
Aug 19th, 2005 at 10:31pm
 
Edited:
by Dave:
The updated versions of these paragraphs are below.

A revised, second edition of COI Better Practice Guidelines for Government Contact Centres is now available. Need to register at www.coi.gov.uk/ccg
before downloading the 165 page document. The relevant info for here is as follows:

<<
Cost to the citizen

3.50 Based on your primary target audiences, you should also consider the
cost of accessing the service. Not only does this make sure that citizens
on low income can afford to contact you, but it also encourages citizens
to call by removing the cost barrier.

3.51 For telephone services, this involves decisions over whether to offer
a geographical number or a non-geographical number such as
0800/0808, 0845/0844 or 0870/0871. Non geographical numbers have
traditionally provided advantages in terms of intelligent routing, which
helps manage call flows and can provide a better service to the end
customer (although the more advanced networks can provide intelligent
routing on standard geographical numbers and this should be explored as
an option).

The following guidance has been put together with input from Ofcom.

3.52 Free services would be appropriate if you are targeting those who may be
deterred by the cost of a call (for example, the elderly, young people or
those on low incomes or where the nature of the call is confidential) and
is particularly applicable if your objective is to encourage as many people
as possible to call. For example, with counselling services, if the call is
free it will not normally appear on the phone bill and as such a free call is
very appropriate. (Note that some mobile operators currently do charge
for free number calls. 1)

3.53 However 0800/0808 numbers can suffer from hoax calls, and you may
wish to consider a geographic number or an 0844/0845 2.  For example,
cost is likely to be less of an issue for businesses, so 0844 or 0845 may
be more appropriate here.

(1) Work is being undertaken by COI together with other bodies to see if this difficult area can be addressed.

(2) 0845 in particular has been known as ‘local rate’ – however with increased competition in the marketplace
and resultant changes in tariff structures, these rates will often be in excess of normal local rates that
citizens might be charged on their package. 0845 (and 0844) costs through phone boxes and some mobile
tariffs can also be expensive to the citizen and this should also be considered.

3.54 0870/0871 numbers are not recommended, particularly when targeting
individuals as by dint of falling call rates, these have become expensive to
the caller relative to a geographical call, which can act as a barrier to
communicating information that the citizen should have access to as a
right. If 0870/08713 is being used then other alternatives – i.e. a standard
geographical number (either in parallel with, or as an alternative to, the
0870/0871 number), the web or postal mechanisms should be considered
and made available. 0870/0871 might be appropriate in a business
environment, but even here its use should be treated with caution.

continued...
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« Last Edit: Oct 3rd, 2007 at 1:27pm by Dave »  

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idb
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Re: COI update
Reply #1 - Aug 19th, 2005 at 10:32pm
 
...

3.55 If you are asking citizens to respond by coupon, we recommend offering a
freepost address to avoid the cost and inconvenience of postage stamps.

3.56 If you are using SMS, you should consider the cost to the citizen of
sending a text, and indeed a response may involve multiple texts back
and forth.

3.57 You should always clearly communicate the cost to customers on publicity
materials (see paragraph 3.75) and this should not use any misleading
terms such as ‘local’, ‘national rate’, etc.

3.58 Premium rate revenue generation numbers should never be used for
public services.

3.59 Tariff is often a decision that should be made as part of the wider
communications/publicity planning and should be given due consideration
and the impact on the citizen discussed.

(4) 0870 in particular has been known as ‘national rate’, however this is misleading and 0870 can be very
expensive to the citizen in comparison with the tariffs they would normally pay for a national call. Increasingly
distinctions between local and national are fading in tariff structures anyway. 0870/0871 more generally has
the added issue of revenue share (this can be available on 0845/0844 but is smaller, less universal and less
perceived by the public). This can be viewed negatively by the citizen who may feel the Department is
exploiting them, as even if the revenues are being utilised towards the costs of the operation of the service,
this might not be fully understood.

[end]

I think footnote 4 is incorrectly numbered and should in fact be footnote 3
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« Last Edit: Aug 19th, 2005 at 10:38pm by idb »  

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Re: COI update
Reply #2 - Aug 20th, 2005 at 9:38pm
 
Thanks for the post idb.

They still seem to think that we have local and national rates.  For all practical purposes, we only have one UK universal rate for geographical numbers (01 and 02 numbers); as with mobile phones, there is no distinction between a local and national call. Using 0845 is not doing anyone any favours, a geographical call to ANY location in the UK cost the same.  As 0845 numbers often cost more (never less) than  Geographical numbers they are of no benefit to the consumer, only a detriment.

0844 voice calls are even worse than 0845 numbers and in call boxes cost more than 0870 numbers.
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Re: COI update
Reply #3 - Aug 21st, 2005 at 9:45am
 
Thanks for that idb,

I believe this edition is well better than their previous editions.

I will quote this edition and also relevant website addresses from the ASA/CAP and OfCOM, as follows:-

http://www.cap.org.uk/cap/advice_online/ad_alerts/Advertising+0845+and+087+numbe...

http://www.asa.org.uk/cap/news_events/news/2005/hanging+on+the+telephone+on+and+...

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/media/mofaq/telecoms/0870faq/#content
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« Last Edit: Aug 22nd, 2005 at 9:52pm by bbb_uk »  
 
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Re: COI update
Reply #4 - Aug 21st, 2005 at 12:46pm
 
This is slow, but steady progress. The hard work from members of this site is showing results - and I'm grateful to you all.

It is hard for government departments etc... to be seen to be ripping the tax-payer off and misleading them. I am sure that the constant FOI requests made from this site filter up the system and make those who pull the levers realize what's happening.

I hate the way the COI distinguishes between those on "low incomes" and other citizens. Just because I'm not on a "low income" doesn't give the government the right to scam me.

And this quote just beggars belief:

Quote:
cost is likely to be less of an issue for businesses, so 0844 or 0845 may be more appropriate here.


I mean what planet are these people on? Business is what make this country run. Many business are run hand-to-mouth in fierce competition from abroad. Every penny counts. Why should business' be ripped-off?
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Re: COI update
Reply #5 - Aug 21st, 2005 at 7:46pm
 
I hate the way the COI distinguishes between those on "low incomes" and other citizens. Just because I'm not on a "low income" doesn't give the government the right to scam me.

Exactly, in fact why should anyone have to phone a phone number that is revenue generating, and cost more than to phone a friend.

If they are targetting a confidential service, such as childline, Relate etc then 0800 is appropriate, as the issue is not just cost, but the fact other people living in the same building might see the phone bill.  This applies rich or poor.

If you want to enquire to the DVLA, TV licencing, or your local council, then we should be expected to pay the same as calling your friends and family, ie a geographic call.  If you subscribe to a service that lets you call free, for a monthly fee, or pay a very low rate of 2p per call with 18866 then we should be allowed to do this, instead of calling 0870, and 0845.


I mean what planet are these people on? Business is what make this country run. Many business are run hand-to-mouth in fierce competition from abroad. Every penny counts. Why should business' be ripped-off?

There are many small businesses, that are struggling to survive, and even medium sized businesses as well.

A small office that can get very cheap geographic calls, or even free for a monthly fee and is constantly calling back customers, doesn't need the expense of wasting another few hundred quid on 0870 numbers a week.  They could get another member of staff in with the money saved!!

Doesn't matter whether the managing director is on the breadline, or whether he's out playing golf all day, and spends half the year in his luxury yacht.  Most businesses are always cutting back, and seeing where they can save costs.  Asking their office staff to go that extra mile and obtain geo numbers for their suppliers and customers is a the best place to start!!
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Re: COI update
Reply #6 - Oct 14th, 2005 at 5:47pm
 
bbb_uk  's link to Ofcomm FAQ on 0870 above is dead:-
I believe the new address is :-
http://www.ofcom.org.uk/media/mofaq/telecoms/nts/#content

if someone with appropriate access might like to update it
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idb
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Re: COI update
Reply #7 - May 2nd, 2006 at 1:29am
 
This was provided by a source within the UK. I do not know the distribution for this message, nor do I have a copy of the associated document.

From: xxxxxxxxx@coi.gsi.gov.uk
Sent: 04 April 2006
To: xxxxxxxxx
Subject: Government use of 0845 and 0870

Ofcom Numbering Consultation

As you will know, the Better Practice Guidance makes reference to the 08 tariff and the issues with 0870 and 0845 respectively.  Ofcom have recently pronounced their plans for these numbers.

However COI made strong representations that ideally Government should have access to a tariff that was a paid for number (as opposed to 0800 which isn't always suitable) which could benefit from the same advanced network capabilities as non-geographic numbers but which was not charging the caller any more than they would pay for a normal geographic call.

Ofcom have responded positively to COI’s suggestion and are now consulting on the introduction of an 03 range specifically for this purpose.    

I am therefore inviting comment from the various public sectors bodies that have downloaded the guidance.

Attached is a document which gives background to the proposed changes to explain how this could affect you. Ofcom have invited comments and COI have offered to co-ordinate some of the thoughts from government departments.  If you would like to respond to us please respond to xxxxxxxxxx@coi.gsi.gov.uk by no later than 24th April.

This is potentially an excellent opportunity to develop an appropriate numbering system for the Public Sector and your views would be much appreciated..

Yours sincerely,

[COI]
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Re: COI update
Reply #8 - May 2nd, 2006 at 7:30pm
 
idb wrote on May 2nd, 2006 at 1:29am:
Attached is a document which gives background to the proposed changes to explain how this could affect you
It's a shame we dont have access to this attached document.  It would be interesting to see what COI have said!
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idb
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Re: COI update
Reply #9 - Oct 3rd, 2007 at 4:53am
 
This update is available from here:

http://www.coi.gov.uk/documents/ccg-update.pdf

Updated COI guidance (I don't think this has been posted, at least in full):

The following section is an update on the COI Better Practice Guidance for Government Contact Centres 2nd Edition in light of COI’s work with Ofcom and their statement on Telephone Numbering – ‘Safeguarding the future of numbers’ (July 2006) [1] regarding inbound telephone tariffs. It replaces the existing section and is valid as of 21st August 2006.

Cost to citizen

3.5 Based on your primary target audiences, you should also consider the cost of accessing the service. Not only does this make sure that citizens on low income can afford to contact you, but it also encourages citizens to call by lowering or removing the cost barrier.

3.51 For telephone services, this involves decisions over whether to offer a geographical number or a non-geographical such as 0800/0808, 0845/0844, 0870/0871 and now 0300, a new ‘UK-wide’ tariff specially set up for use by Government, public sector and not-for-profit bodies. Non-geographical numbers have traditionally provided advantages in terms of intelligent routing, which helps manage call flows and can provide a better service to the end customer (although the more advanced networks can provide intelligent routing on standard geographical numbers and this can be explored as an option). There can also be a benefit in terms of offering more flexibility to allow for changes in geographic locations of where calls are delivered.

3.52 Free to caller services (0800/0808) would be appropriate if you are targeting those who may be deterred by the cost of a call (for example, the elderly, young people, those on low incomes or where the nature of the call is confidential). It is particularly applicable if your objective is to encourage as many people as possible to call. For example, with counselling services, if the call is free it will not normally appear on the phone bill and as such a free call is very appropriate. Some mobile operators currently do charge for free numbers, however COI has arranged an agreement alongside the Telephones Helplines Association (THA) to exclude calls to certain types of 0800/0808 lines from being charged for. [2]


[1] Available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/numberingreview/statement/
[2] Particularly relevant is the 0808 80 range of confidential helpline numbers available for use by members of the THA. If you would like your helpline to benefit from this and be included on the list, please contact Robert Irons at COI robert.irons@coi.gsi.gov.uk to establish whether it is suitable for inclusion.]

3.53 However 0800/0808 numbers can suffer from hoax calls, and you may wish to consider a new 03 ‘UK-wide’ number which has been created for those organisations who want a common national number but who do not wish to charge consumers a premium (over geographic rates) for contacting them. Given the bad press surrounding high call charge rates and the practice of revenue sharing around 0870 in particular, COI sought a more trustworthy tariff that could be adopted by Government Departments and Non-Departmental Public Bodies and suggested this to Ofcom as a useful way forward. This will be the 0300 range and will be made available for public services and not-for-profit bodies only. COI would recommend this as an appropriate fairer tariff for Government use where a free service is not offered. The fairer charging structure and the absence of revenue share on 03 numbers should help make customers feel more comfortable with communicating with Government via the telephone as citizens will pay the same amount for these calls as they would for calling a geographic number on whatever package they have and whichever line they are calling from (including mobiles). Calls to 03 numbers will be part of inclusive minutes in the same way as calls to geographic numbers. COI understand that these numbers should also (in due course) be more likely to be accessible from abroad than some 08 numbers. It is understood that transition to this range may be difficult, unwelcome or inappropriate in some circumstances, but it should be considered for all existing services and for new services, with a requirement for a paid for tariff, it should largely be the most appropriate. COI will be working with Ofcom during the implementation of this new tariff structure and have already advised on who might wish to make use of such a tariff. We will be seeking to make this an important part of our own aggregated inbound tariff arrangements so as to benefit Government collectively. [3]

3.54 0844 and 0845 are still appropriate tariffs but it should be noted that these can be charged at up to 5p per minute (from BT lines) and this may be seen as a barrier to some individuals and migration should be considered. Revenue share on 0844 and 0845 is possible but again should be avoided by public sector bodies to avoid criticism. Ofcom will be reviewing 0845 again in a couple of years (at which point revenue share may be prohibited). 0844 or 0845 should never be referred to as ‘local rate’ in any publicity or by agents. NEG and surgeries, please take note!

[3] Bodies can contact COI or their providers to apply for these 0300 numbers, which should be available for allocation from October 2006.

...
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« Last Edit: Oct 3rd, 2007 at 1:28pm by Dave »  

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idb
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Re: COI update
Reply #10 - Oct 3rd, 2007 at 4:54am
 
...

3.55 From January 2008, 0871 will be ICSTIS-regulated and positioned as a premium rate (up to 10p per minute from a BT line) with revenue share facility and so is not recommended for Government activity. Calls can be expensive for the public and the revenue share can be viewed negatively by the citizen who may feel the Department is exploiting them; as even if the revenues are being utilised towards the costs of the operation of the service, this might not be fully understood or acceptable. Any public body considering migrating to 0871 from 0870 to protect its revenue share should consider this decision very carefully in light of the poor publicity received over past Government use of 0870. 0871 should never be referred to as ‘national rate’ in any publicity or by agents.

The position with 0870 is more complex, as to try to re-establish some trust in this range Ofcom plans to change the rules so that from January 2008, calls will be charged at no more than the originating providers national calls to geographic numbers (unless a pre-call announcement warns of a higher rate to be charged) and revenue share is not permitted. This would make 0870 more palatable for use in a Government context perhaps in a business-to-business environment. In the meantime, 0870 should not be referred to as ‘national rate’ in any publicity or by agents. However given the lack of trust in this particular number range, serious consideration should be given by Departments to migration to the new 0300 range to avoid criticism.

3.56 09 premium ranges should never be considered for most Government service with the possible exception of when it part of an explicit revenue collection arrangement and forms the payment mechanism for a service. However these do have very bad press because of the high tariffs charged for calling some 09 numbers and the existence of premium rate Sexual Entertainment Services. Therefore, they should be avoided, even in light of Ofcom’s plans to separate off Sexual Entertainment Services onto only ‘098’ numbers.

3.57 If you are asking citizens to respond by coupon, we recommend offering a freepost address to avoid the cost and inconvenience of postage stamps. If you are using SMS, you should consider the cost to the citizen of sending a text, and indeed a response may involve multiple texts back and forth.

3.58 You should always clearly communicate the cost to customers on publicity materials and this should not use any misleading terms such as ‘local’, ‘national rate’, etc. COI can advise on this and Ofcom intend to develop descriptions for the tariffs to try to increase tariff transparency.

3.59 Tariff is often a decision that should be made as part of the wider communications/publicity planning and should be given due consideration and the impact on the citizen discussed. COI can advise on this and can source telephone numbers as part of its centralised inbound aggregated tariff arrangements.
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« Last Edit: Oct 3rd, 2007 at 4:57am by idb »  

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Re: COI update
Reply #11 - Nov 21st, 2007 at 12:27pm
 
[quote author=idb link=1126453052/0#10 date=1191383670]...

3.55
The position with 0870 is more complex, as to try to re-establish some trust in this range Ofcom plans to change the rules so that from January 2008, calls will be charged at no more than the originating providers national calls to geographic numbers (unless a pre-call announcement warns of a higher rate to be charged) and revenue share is not permitted. This would make 0870 more palatable for use in a Government context perhaps in a business-to-business environment. In the meantime, 0870 should not be referred to as ‘national rate’ in any publicity or by agents. However given the lack of trust in this particular number range, serious consideration should be given by Departments to migration to the new 0300 range to avoid criticism.

I'm new to this forum lark, (I did mean to join a few months ago...) but I noticed this paragraph from COI - If the law is being changed why can't we lobby to have the new rules say :
(unless a pre-call announcement warns of a higher rate to be charged and also gives the geographical number), this way the caller can choose the number that best suits their call plan / circumstances.

Or am I being slow again? Is this already being implemented?

VicRic
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