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0870 The other side of the story (Read 22,428 times)
Call Centre Worker
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0870 The other side of the story
Nov 25th, 2005 at 1:23pm
 
As I worker in a travel company call centre I would like to share my thoughts on the NTS Consultation document. I must admit that I have mixed feelings as to your argument on the website and your actions to stop 0870 services. On the one hand I strongly believe that organisations such as the DVLA, NHS and all other public bodies should be legally banned from using 0870 numbers, after all we are already paying through the nose to Mr Brown for this ‘privilege’.

On the other hand however, I believe that companies such as the one I work for should be allowed to use 0870 numbers and receive a revenue share. There are a number of reasons for my views. Firstly, as a company, we do use 0870 and do receive revenue, however we use this revenue to provide call centre services such as call recording which are there to not only help our customers but also protect them.  We receive complaints from time to time from consumers who say they didn’t receive what they were promised on the phone, so when we tell them we have the call recording you can imagine how pleased they are. If we were to lose the revenue we would have no choice but to buy hardware solutions which are much more expensive and for which we would have to indirectly pass the cost onto the customer.

Secondly, the telephone is just one route by which customers can purchase products from us. If someone does not want to use the phone they can always book online or alternatively they can get in their car, drive to town, pay to park their car and go and book through a travel agent.

At the end of the day a 20 minute call costing £1.40 may not be relevant if we can offer discounts of £10’s or £100’s of pounds and is far cheaper then going into town and paying well in excess of this just for parking your car! Let alone the petrol and time implications.

From the information that I have read from Ofcom, it seems that the main complaints about 0870 are that Government departments are getting revenue from them and that the pricing is confusing because ‘National Rate’ is a misleading title, which I also agree with you about. Surely one solution would be to change the name of the ‘National Rate’ numbers to something like ‘Marketing Rate’ or alternatively make companies like the one I work for publish the cost of the call on our brochures and adverts?  

One of my concerns is that I have heard that some companies may have to shed staff or move offshore if the loss of revenue impacts too greatly on the UK call centre operations. Is it fair that private sector companies are punished for the actions of government departments and the fact that Ofcom did not launch these numbers correctly in the first place?  Already in my industry and workplace we are hearing the murmurings of job redundancies as a direct result of Ofcom enforcing a ban on revenue.  Surely nobody wants to see people lose their jobs when the same result can be achieved without baning the revenue share scheme?

I hope you understand that I must remain anonymous.

Regards



Call Centre Worker
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« Last Edit: Nov 29th, 2005 at 7:47pm by Forum Admin »  
 
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omy
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #1 - Nov 25th, 2005 at 2:44pm
 
Here we go again!

Call centre person,
Please understand that the complaint is NOT that companies are asking for cash from their customers, for phoning them!!
It is because they are doing it in an underhand (some say fraudulent ) way.  If Ofcom would change 0870 so that it was an 09 number, ie premium, then I for one would be satisfied.  Why should companies use 0870 (and I bet your firm says it's a national rate call??) when they are collecting a premium?  Be upfront.

If a firm cannot make a legitimate profit from straightforward trading, without resorting to 'hidden revenue', then to my mind they don't deserve to be in business at all.

If you used 09 of course people would suss out immediately that they are paying 'extra', and you couldn't put them in a queue - THAT is why your company uses the devious 0870 route.

ps  Pity you wish to remain anonymous, unlike all the rest of us Smiley Smiley
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« Last Edit: Nov 25th, 2005 at 2:52pm by omy »  
 
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #2 - Nov 25th, 2005 at 3:03pm
 
Hi Call Centre Worker, and welcome to the forum. There are a number of other threads on here started by people who work for companies using these numbers. These can be found in Useful Information & Say no to 0870! Hot Topics thread.

Call Centre Worker wrote on Nov 25th, 2005 at 1:23pm:
As I worker in a travel company call centre I would like to share my thoughts on the NTS Consultation document. I must admit that I have mixed feelings as to your argument on the website and your actions to stop 0870 services.

We don't want to stop any services per se, but make the general public aware that the calls cost more than 'normal' (geographical) numbers and that this benefits the receiver, by financial payment and/or in kind.

Quote:
On the one hand I strongly believe that organisations such as the DVLA, NHS and all other public bodies should be legally banned from using 0870 numbers, after all we are already paying through the nose to Mr Brown for this ‘privilege’.

This would be clear to people if they knew what 0870 numbers really are. It would also be clear to your customers that your company receives revenue, and they would be able to make an informed decision as to whether it is worth it or not.

Quote:
On the other hand however, I believe that companies such as the one I work for should be allowed to use 0870 numbers and receive a revenue share.

Which is why they should operate on a number prefix where it is clear that the company receives benefits.

The point is that the price of a telephone call should be just that, whereby the charge covers a call's transition over the network from caller to receiver. The only variation on this is if the charge has some 'premium' added for the benefit of the receiver. An 09xx premium rate number should signify that the receiver gets some benefits (however large or small) via the call charge. I fully understand that your company would not want to operate on a number prefix where peoples' perceptions are that the numbers are "expensive".

However, the situation we have now is completely the opposite, whereby companies such as yours have peddled the 'national rate' lie. Even if it was a true national rate, why does your company have the right to disadvantage those who are local to you? And where is this additional expense going? So, even if you hide behind the 'national rate' excuse, it's a load of rubbish anyway!

Quote:
There are a number of reasons for my views. Firstly, as a company, we do use 0870 and do receive revenue, however we use this revenue to provide call centre services such as call recording which are there to not only help our customers but also protect them.  We receive complaints from time to time from consumers who say they didn’t receive what they were promised on the phone, so when we tell them we have the call recording you can imagine how pleased they are. If we were to lose the revenue we would have no choice but to buy hardware solutions...

Your company's choice would be that it could pay for services it receives or purchase a hardware solution. At present its customers have to pay for this 'service' on a per minute basis.

What's more, there's no market forces to drive down prices to these numbers. They are completely anti-competitive in the UK telephone market. The only market forces are that the 0870 providers are fighting for business from companies such as yours, whilst receiving payment from another party (ie, your customers).

Quote:
...which are much more expensive and for which we would have to indirectly pass the cost onto the customer.

You already pass on costs to your customers!

I presume that your offices are in the UK and fixed. So a telephone call to your company's office will cost the price of a call to a UK geographical number. However, it has chosen to implement a system whereby the customer has to ring an 0870 which routes to the office. This puts the 'obstacle' of an 0870 number in the way!

Quote:
From the information that I have read from Ofcom, it seems that the main complaints about 0870 are that Government departments are getting revenue from them and that the pricing is confusing because ‘National Rate’ is a misleading title, which I also agree with you about. Surely one solution would be to change the name of the ‘National Rate’ numbers to something like ‘Marketing Rate’ or alternatively make companies like the one I work for publish the cost of the call on our brochures and adverts?

But it is probably the 'national rate' title which has lead to this current abuse and deception. The suggestion that it should be called 'marketing rate' is the most astounding part of your post. I can only see this as 'corporate arrogance' that you believe companies such as yours can charge more than the market price for a telephone call, especially where your company will be able to telephone most of its customers on geographical numbers. I'm sure your office will have some phone package where geographical numbers are far cheaper than 0870.

continued...
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« Last Edit: Nov 27th, 2005 at 6:43pm by DaveM »  
 
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #3 - Nov 25th, 2005 at 3:04pm
 
...continued

Quote:
One of my concerns is that I have heard that some companies may have to shed staff or move offshore if the loss of revenue impacts too greatly on the UK call centre operations. Is it fair that private sector companies are punished for the actions of government departments and the fact that Ofcom did not launch these numbers correctly in the first place? ...

What's more, why is it your view that companies are being "punished"? You are of the opinion that it is wrong for government departments to use 0870s, but conversly you find it completely acceptable for companies such as yours to profit covertly.

A free market allows consumers to choose by being aware. Thus, they should be able to choose whether your company's 0870 is worth it or not!!!

Your statement tells me that you think that it's acceptable that people are kept in the dark about revenue on 0870 (for the private sector). After all, if people were not in the dark, why would the government get away making so much out of these numbers?

Quote:
... Already in my industry and workplace we are hearing the murmurings of job redundancies as a direct result of Ofcom enforcing a ban on revenue.  Surely nobody wants to see people lose their jobs when the same result can be achieved without baning the revenue share scheme?

The point is that this revenue is covert! Callers aren't aware! You are trying to justify why your company can receive 'revenue' at the direct expense of the customer.

Of course no one wants to see anyone loosing their job, but you cannot have your cake and eat it!

A couple of questions:
  • I presume that most of your company's calls to customers are on geographical numbers. I have an 0870 number which routes to my home phone. I give it to companies and organisations which force me to call them on 0870. Would your company be happy to cover the cost of calling people on 0870 numbers?
  • The same facilities on 0870 numbers are available on freephone (080x), 0844 and 0845 numbers. Why has your company not opted for one of these?
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« Last Edit: Nov 25th, 2005 at 3:05pm by Dave »  
 
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #4 - Nov 25th, 2005 at 3:22pm
 
Mr/Miss Call Centre Worker, regarding your "0870 The other side of the story" post:

I am glad to tell you that I can put your mind at rest regarding your concerns.

Yesterday, I was speaking with two telecoms regulatory gentlemen, whose jobs include receiving feedback from many, many call centre operators throughout the UK and beyond.

They recognise that call centres exist for two main purposes - first, to enhance sales of company products; secondly, to assist customers with problems.

As both you and these gentlemen know, customers can avoid the cost of 0870/0845 calls to these call centres, by taking out a free calls telephone package and then using SAYNOTO0870 and other routes to find geographical equivalents of these numbers.  So if you are an average phone user, you can save yourself £89 p.a. on your phone bill by this simple expedient.  These gentlemen recognise that this saving is based on up-to-date telephone industry published figures.

But, I hear you saying, what about the call centre for whom I work?  They will not get their part of the revenue share from these calls, they may have to lay off staff, and - heaven forbid -  I might lose my job!

Good news!  As these gentlemen are aware, a survey has been made of the effect of customers using the free calls + geographical equivalents route to reduce their phone bills.  It has revealed that customers in this fortunate position actually spend THREE times as long on these "call centre"-type calls!!!  They make more calls, and they stay on the line longer!  So the call centre has three times as long to sell to the customer, and to clear up any customer problems.  The call centre is the winner (three times over), but so also is the customer.

One of these gentlemen immediately endorsed this point by complimenting American Express on the fact that they use a 0800 521313 switchboard, and publicise 01273 numbers on their website and correspondence as an alternative to 0870.  You may have called American Express, but if not please find a reason to do so.  It can be a breath of fresh air.

So I hope you will get on with saving yourself £89 p.a., and let the company using your call centre know that they are missing an opportunity (three times over) if they think that 0870 numbers are good for their business.  No way, my friend.

If you want any further background to the figures I have quoted, let me know, and I should be happy to oblige.

Sonny
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #5 - Nov 25th, 2005 at 3:32pm
 
Sonny wrote on Nov 25th, 2005 at 3:22pm:
Mr/Miss Call Centre Worker, regarding your "0870 The other side of the story" post:


As both you and these gentlemen know, customers can avoid the cost of 0870/0845 calls to these call centres, by taking out a free calls telephone package and then using SAYNOTO0870 and other routes to find geographical equivalents of these numbers.  

Sonny


Unfortunately an ever-growing number of companies are shutting off this route to 'get around 0870'.  If you call their GN they simply refer you back to 0870 - so something does need to be done.
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #6 - Nov 25th, 2005 at 5:16pm
 
Good news!  As these gentlemen are aware, a survey has been made of the effect of customers using the free calls + geographical equivalents route to reduce their phone bills.  It has revealed that customers in this fortunate position actually spend THREE times as long on these "call centre"-type calls!!!  They make more calls, and they stay on the line longer!  So the call centre has three times as long to sell to the customer, and to clear up any customer problems.  The call centre is the winner (three times over), but so also is the customer.

That was true of me the other day.

I needed to contact a company, which operates an 0845 number.  I got through to the wrong department on the geo number, and was told to call their 0845 number.  I said that it's impossible to call from abroad (but I wasn't abroad, and didn't say I was abroad either, I just said it's impossible to call from abroad) and I was then transferred between a few departments, until I found the one I wanted.

Now by using this method of avoiding the 0845 costs, I kept some call centre agents busy with an enquiry they should never have dealt with.  They put me on hold, whilst they tried to transfer the call internally, and waiting in a queue themselves.

This did indeed keep the call centre agent busy, and I wasn't too fussed about wasting time, as I was calling for free.  Had this happened on an 0845 or 0870 number, I would have accused them of making a profit out of their incompetence, but as it was me who called the wrong numbers, instead of the published ones, I can hardely complain about speaking to the wrong person.

As for the arguments from the call centre worker, when you go home after your shift, and find that your mail order goods haven't arrived, or the new TV you bought has a fault, one of your utilities has overcharged you, do you agree that even though the problems are someone else's fault, you have no objection to making a 20 minute call, costing £2.40, of which £1 goes to the company you're complaining to, so that they can resolve the problem that they have caused.

If I had booked one of your holidays, and found that I had a complaint such as the wrong tickets being sent, airport parking being booked at a different airport to which I was travelling from etc, I would want you to sort out the problem, and if it involved a 20 minute phone call, I would strongly object to paying £2.40 on my phone bill, of which £1 is passed to you, so that you can sort out your own mess.

The argument about the phone being cheaper than travelling into town is just a smokescreen.  It might be that I popped into town to do the weekly shopping, and would visit the travel agent on my list of things to do, and even if I did make a special trip, the petrol station, bus company, council parking etc, wouldn't charge extra on top of their normal prices, so that they can pass half of it onto you!!
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I realy hait itt wen peeple canot spel proply. Itt getts onn mye nervs sew mutch annd streses mee owt. Knot onley iz itt vary bade speling butt allso bade gramer.
 
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #7 - Nov 25th, 2005 at 5:23pm
 
Personally I would never phone a call centre to book travel (or anything else), when I can use the internet to find even cheaper deals for myself. Then I can find exactly what I want for myself without having to try to communicate that to a call centre worker. No offence intended to the original poster, but often the people on the other end of the phone seem to have little clue if the request diverges even slightly from their "script". Also, using the internet avoids being kept in a queue (which is one reason they use 0870, not 09 where queueing is no allowed).

I would be tempted to say, if people choose to use a call centre, why shouldn't they pay extra? So in that case, why am I bothered by 0870 number?

The reason is, when I make my internet booking, somewhere along the line there will be a human handling the request who is even more incompetent than the ones on the phone. The website may also have bugs that mean my order is not processed correctly. Any e-mails just seem to be ignored. So what do I have to do? I have to use the 0870 number to contact the call centre, to rectify a problem that is not my fault in the slightest! I've just given the company loads of money for my booking, yet because they've got it wrong, they expect me to pay to sort it out. That's why I don't like 0870 numbers.
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #8 - Nov 26th, 2005 at 2:44am
 
Call Centre Worker wrote on Nov 25th, 2005 at 1:23pm:
One of my concerns is that I have heard that some companies may have to shed staff or move offshore if the loss of revenue impacts too greatly on the UK call centre operations. Is it fair that private sector companies are punished for the actions of government departments and the fact that Ofcom did not launch these numbers correctly in the first place?  Already in my industry and workplace we are hearing the murmurings of job redundancies as a direct result of Ofcom enforcing a ban on revenue.  Surely nobody wants to see people lose their jobs when the same result can be achieved without baning the revenue share scheme?
Let me enlighten you regarding what happens here in the United States, a country with arguably the most sophisticated call center handling capabilities. Within the last few weeks, I have had to contact the following organizations operating call centers:

Satellite TV;
Cellular (mobile) phone provider;
US Dept of State for wife's passport renewal;
Airline to book flight;
Car rental agency;
Bank;
FedEX to arrange delivery;
Miami international airport;
Retailer of electronic goods;
Car Insurance company.

All these, except MIA, provide a toll-free contact number. MIA provides a standard 305 geographic number. Not one of these organizations provides a premium-rated number.

Now, look at UK examples:

Satellite TV - SKY;
Cellular (mobile) phone provider - Vodafone;
US Dept of State for wife's passport renewal - UKPS;
Airline to book flight - BA;
Car rental agency - Avis;
Bank - NatWest;
FedEX to arrange delivery - DHL;
Miami international airport - London Heathrow airport;
Retailer of electronic goods - Comet;
Car Insurance company - Norwich Union.

All of the above UK examples use 0870 contact numbers.

It is inconceivable that a US caller would have to pay 8p/minute, or $8 per hour, for any of these, or similar service provision.

In addition, whilst the menu system can at times be as frustrating as that experienced within the UK, the call times are much shorter. Customer service staff are generally knowledgeable and helpful unlike their UK counterparts.

The UK call center industry should LEARN from the US. If staff layoffs result, the industry only has itself to blame. If you think it's just about profir, then think again. US companies make very healthy profits and know how to 'do' customer service. The UK industry will not, however, learn from the US as it is so clueless about what its customer wants. It prefers greed to service provision. I do not want to see job losses, but it is the industry that is largely responsible, not the public that is fed up with scamming 0870 numbers that provide ZERO benefit to the caller.

The US may have its faults, but it knows a thing or two about providing a service. Just check into any hotel here and see the difference with what passes for 'service' in the UK. It is a world of difference.

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« Last Edit: Nov 27th, 2005 at 6:40pm by DaveM »  

As from November 21, 2013, I no longer participate in the forum and am unable to receive private messages.
 
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #9 - Nov 26th, 2005 at 2:06pm
 
Quote:
One of my concerns is that I have heard that some companies may have to shed staff or move offshore if the loss of revenue impacts too greatly on the UK call centre operations


I too feel the 'loss of 0870 will lead to loss of jobs' argument is completely distorted.   

This call centre worker may well believe this because they have been mislead by their management who pedal this myth to staff who in turn pass it on to their callers. 

I'm not sure of the details, but isn't it true that the telcos are the main winners with NGNs ?  Can anyone confirm that the company using the 0870 gains about 1p/min ?  (Not that I think they should be gaining anything in the 0870 underhand, we're-charging-you-while-you're-in-the-queue way.) 

I say this because, if the gains are relatively small, then it completely undermines the argument that this loss in revenue would lead to the loss of jobs!!
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« Last Edit: Nov 26th, 2005 at 7:17pm by gdh82 »  

There's more of us that them, stick together and challenge 0870/0845 etc etc
 
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #10 - Nov 26th, 2005 at 4:51pm
 
And of course there are many people who will not deal with any company using 0870 (myself being one!), so if 0870 was not the only option most compnaies would find a probable increase in customers and sales, and there would be more enquiries - meaning MORE call centre workers.
Profits then come from product sales - not covert scamming of all callers.
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #11 - Nov 27th, 2005 at 1:31am
 
Call Centre Worker wrote on Nov 25th, 2005 at 1:23pm:
Firstly, as a company, we do use 0870 and do receive revenue, however we use this revenue to provide call centre services such as call recording which are there to not only help our customers but also protect them.  We receive complaints from time to time from consumers who say they didn’t receive what they were promised on the phone . . .  

More than 20 years ago I used to work part-time in an ambulance control room. Nobody will be surprised to hear that recording equipment was in permanent use there - in fact two multi-track machines. And for the same reasons - to help and protect people. If an emergency call was garbled, it could be listened to several times, and so on. I imagine it very likely that the modern replacements of such machines have become much cheaper.

Of course, the situation is different. That equipment was budgeted for by a publicly funded organisation. You are asking us to believe that commercial operators find it rather more difficult to afford such luxuries, despite having a business plan that is presumably intended to return a margin of profit.


I believe the complete reverse on the subject of employment levels. Though this may not apply to the OP's company, if companies had to spend money on keeping people in call-queueing systems, instead of earning it, they would very soon learn to manage operations and staffing levels that took account of holidays and sickness rather than an assumption that the working year is 260 days, and make sure they were full staffed for likely maximum loads instead of a notional average.

"We are experiencing unusually high call volumes" - well they did at least show some foresight in recording the now-so-common message. Imagine what the country would be like if water, electricity, fuel and supermarket and other supplies were managed by these just-too-late unimaginatives ...... half-time in the Cup Final, electricity demand suddenly surges 10% and the whole system trips out.

Typical retail call prices are approaching 1p/min for worldwide calls, and will get still cheaper, so why charge 7.5p? As idb hints, we can call US companies cheaper than British ones - and you could add about another 100 countries to that.
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #12 - Nov 27th, 2005 at 8:41am
 
gdh82 wrote on Nov 26th, 2005 at 2:06pm:
[quote]Can anyone confirm that the company using the 0870 gains about 1p/min ?


It depends on who the supplier is, the volume of traffic,the time of day/week.I know of a supplier who makes an outpayment of 4p a minute,for peak rate calls if traffic is over 100,000 minutes a month.
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #13 - Nov 27th, 2005 at 10:15am
 
Can we assume, by the lack of response, that 'Call centre worker' has either 'seen the light' or is she sitting in a darkened room awaiting therapy? Wink Wink
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Re: 0870 The other side of the story
Reply #14 - Nov 27th, 2005 at 11:15am
 
I, for one, certainly hope that 'Call centre worker' will be kind enough to respond to the points made.  Either to acknowledge or take issue, I don't mind.

0870/0845 numbers cost good, concerned citizens such as 'Call centre worker' and myself over £1.8 billion per year (figures acknowledged by the regulatory gentlemen I mentioned in my earlier post).  Figures like that demand that we get to the bottom of the issue.

It would be really sad if this is all happening because the marketing arms of companies large and small simply cannot do their sums, yet employ call centre workers to present feeble excuses for their mistaken policies.

Remember, the call centre "fad" is driven by the telcos.  IMHO that is really why this scam is happening.

Mr/Miss 'Call centre worker', please take time out to accept, discuss or denounce the assertions I make in this post. Otherwise I might just conclude that they are all spot on.

Sonny
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