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Can you trust the National Trust? (Read 21,659 times)
IainMacCallum
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Can you trust the National Trust?
Feb 3rd, 2006 at 10:54am
 


A week before idb spotted the National Trust's 0870 number for membership enquiries - not so new, it's in the 2004 handbook! - I wrote to Fiona Reynolds, Director General (recorded delivery)

=========

1 December 2005

Dear Ms Reynolds
0870 telephone number

I had reason to change my membership details yesterday. I phoned 01793 817400 and was asked to redial on 0870 458 4000. This premium call (revenue sharing to be precise) costs 8p per minute from a landline phone. I don’t use these numbers. Someone called me back to deal with my membership matter. But I am afraid this will not do. The great majority of your members are unaware of the high cost of these calls, and nowhere in your published information do you say how much they cost. To say, as you do on your web pages, that they are charged at the “National Rate” does not convey the high cost of these calls to your members.

Would you please therefore give me the geographic number to which the 0870 number translates. If you do this, I will post it on the www.saynoto0870.com website for the benefit of those of your members who use this web site. If you do not supply me with the geographic number, which I can verify, then I will post this letter, and your reply, in the discussion forum on the same web site. I will also instruct my bank not to renew my subscription to the National Trust when it would be due in April 2006.

If you do disclose your geographic number, then I would ask you to publish it on your website, make it known to all your members in the next National Trust Newsletter and give an undertaking that it will appear in future editions of your Handbook. If you don’t do this, I will instruct my bank not to renew my subscription.

Yours sincerely


Iain MacCallum
Cc. Sir William Proby, Chairman.

=========

Two months later, no reply.

When today I called the NT on 01793 817400 they did put me straight through to "membership enquiries". Still not good enough. My direct debit remains cancelled.
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Heinz
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Re: Can you trust the National Trust?
Reply #1 - Feb 3rd, 2006 at 8:19pm
 
Isn't the National Trust part of the New Labour ripoff?
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After years of ignoring govt. guidelines & RIPPING OFF Council Tax payers using 0845 numbers, Essex County Council changed to 0345 numbers on 2 November 2015
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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: Can you trust the National Trust?
Reply #2 - Feb 3rd, 2006 at 8:22pm
 
Heinz wrote on Feb 3rd, 2006 at 8:19pm:
Isn't the National Trust part of the New Labour ripoff?


Yep.  Fully paid up and card carrying member I believe.  So bound to go with the new Labour mantra that if its new then its good.
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IainMacCallum
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Re: Can you trust the National Trust?
Reply #3 - Feb 15th, 2006 at 11:30pm
 

It took a phone call (01793 817400) to the “cancellations section” of the National Trust confirming my resignation to get this reply. My comments are in [square brackets].


Your ref: 023 191 464

9 February 2006

Dear Mr MacCallum,

Thank you for your letter of 1 December addressed to the Director General, Fiona Reynolds. The Director General is now away from the office and has requested that I respond on her behalf. [What? After 2 months?]

Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding, regrettably we are experiencing delays and difficulties with some of our membership processes, following the office relocation of our membership service and the introduction of a new computer system. I mention this, not as an excuse, but by way of explanation for the problems you and your family have had with the application. We are working very hard to put these issues right, but there can be no excuse for the poor service you have experienced and I'm truly sorry that you have been inconvenienced in this way. [This is a "standard paragraph". Poor service was not my problem. The threat of resignation in December produced uncommonly good service. I was called back promptly.]

Firstly we have always used a national rate [Deception 1] telephone number for the membership department. For many years it was 0181 315 1111 (and all the variations of prefix as were applied to London numbers). This meant that people who lived in outer London could call at local rates - but the rest of the nation called at national rates.

Roughly four or five years ago, [as the "national rate" ceased to have any real significance] we moved in response to supporter demand to open the membership department for calls at weekends. The additional costs were significant but at the time we took the view that the benefits in terms of improved customer service and support for property visiting (weekends are our busiest times) far outweighed the additional costs. At the same time, knowing that within a few years further telephone code changes were likely, and that we might be wanting to physically relocate the service, we took the opportunity to switch to using an 0870 number (0870 458 4000). The benefit of this sort of number - which is absolutely not a premium rate number - [Untrue. Even Ofcom admit this.] is that it is non-geographic ie the number can be used in any location (it doesn't have an area code). As things have transpired, our foresight was exactly correct - we have moved the service fully 200 miles, but we have been able to use the same telephone number throughout, thus avoiding confusing our members and other customers. [Deception 2. NT does not admit either in this letter or to its members that the price of 0870 calls - typically 8p a minute] [What are 0845 numbers for?]

There is a tiny [one's heart bleeds] spin-off financially which provides the Trust with a very small slice of the cost of each call, with the remainder going to BT in the normal [eh?] way. However even with the terrible delays in answering calls that we have been experiencing recently, [at 8p a minute] the income from this source still amounts to less than half of one per cent of the annual running costs of the membership department you can see that this in no way influences which numbers we use and why. [No I don’t see.] The Trust would naturally much rather that callers could get through straight away than that we had any sort of income at all from these calls. [Why not install a decent geo number?] That is what we are aiming for, and I fully expect this tiny dribble of income to shrink to even more minuscule proportions once we get the service back to our normal High standards. [Another Kleenex.]

Lastly, although we do not have a geographic number for the membership department [Not true. You have one all right, but you won't release it.] I do hope that this reply has gone some way to reassuring you on these issues. I regret that you have now resigned your membership, your decision and view regarding our use of 0870 is always useful in helping us to maintain our standards and respond to the views of members. It also helps us when we review and develop policies and ideas. [A few more resignations would no doubt help to concentrate the NT mind.]

Your past support for the Trust's work is much appreciated, and I hope that you will feel able to join again in the future. [Not a chance.]


Yours sincerely
Neil Harman
Customer Care Assistant


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Shiggaddi
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Re: Can you trust the National Trust?
Reply #4 - Feb 16th, 2006 at 6:11pm
 
the income from this source still amounts to less than half of one per cent of the annual running costs of the membership department you can see that this in no way influences which numbers we use and why.

Well, most people can get their 0870 numbers to pay at least 3p per minute, but since you're admitting it's such a small amount, I have a good suggestion.

You can probably get an 0800 number which also costs about 2-3p per minute.  Instead the NT would be paying for the calls.

That is what we are aiming for, and I fully expect this tiny dribble of income to shrink to even more minuscule proportions once we get the service back to our normal High standards.

You admit the 0870 number is such a small earner.  Receiving calls on a freephone number cost the same to you, as the revenue you receive via 0870.

With these costs being so small, where is the harm in installing a freephone number?  Your members will be pleased that they can contact you for free, and people won't cancel membership over 0870 costs.  And the cost involved in setting up the 0800 is in your own words "less than half of one percent of our running costs"

Good idea or what!!
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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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a very nice man
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Re: Can you trust the National Trust?
Reply #5 - Feb 16th, 2006 at 7:31pm
 
You could try the scottish number / details

The National Trust for Scotland
Wemyss House
28 Charlotte Square
Edinburgh
Scotland
United Kingdom
EH2 4ET
Telephone: +44(0)131 243 9300
Fax: +44(0)131 243 9301

...........................................

Or this, found on http://www.britainexpress.com/national-trust.htm
The National Trust
Freepost MB1438
Bromley, Kent BR1 3BR

Phone +44 (0)181 315 1111
Web http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Obviously it's old, but perhaps 020 8......


on another site  http://www.castlexplorer.co.uk/organisations.php

For membership and general information contact National Trust:

NT Membership Department,
P O Box 39, Bromley,
Kent BR1 3XL

Tel. 020 8315 1111
Fax 020 8466 6824


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a very nice man
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Re: Can you trust the National Trust?
Reply #6 - Feb 16th, 2006 at 7:35pm
 
I didn't read my post properly before sending it.

" Phone +44 (0)181 315 1111
Web http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk ;

Obviously it's old, but perhaps 020 8...... "

and then below it

Tel. 020 8315 1111

Well I was right in the first instance.

Notice that they also removed the Freepost option.

How much was it costing them to recruit members? and how many now don't bother due to cost?
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bill
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National Trust
Reply #7 - Feb 16th, 2006 at 9:57pm
 
Interesting.

The National Trust website http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-global/w-contact_us.htm
gives 'Contact Us' details as:

General enquiries 

Address: The National Trust, PO Box 39, Warrington WA5 7WD
Tel: 0870 458 4000
Fax: 020 8466 6824

Now, obviously, the 020 8 fax number does not terminate in Warrington so a check of the WA5 7WD postcode is necessary.

That shows: Vertex, PO Box 39, WARRINGTON, WA5 7WD

Naturally, a 118500 check for Vertex at that postcode must follow.

That shows: Vertex Data Science Ltd, Billing Services Centre, 1050, Europa Boulevard, Westbrook, Warrington, WA5 7ZD (slight postcode variation).

(01925)  465480

That number is answered "Vertex Security" at 21:55 but ................ I wonder?
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« Last Edit: Feb 16th, 2006 at 10:01pm by bill »  
 
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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: Can you trust the National Trust?
Reply #8 - Feb 16th, 2006 at 10:41pm
 
www.118118.com also shows this entry for Vertex close by:-

Vertex Data Science Ltd  
Dawson HoLiverpool Rd, WARRINGTON, WA5 3LW  
01925 234 000 Dist/Dir: 3.2 mi  W

This appears to be the main switchboard.

And www.192.com found:-

VERTEX DATA SCIENCE LTD. 1050 EUROPA BOULEVARD WESTBROOK WARRINGTON WA5 7ZD
Distance from Warrington: 2.23 miles  01925 465 209
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« Last Edit: Feb 16th, 2006 at 10:44pm by N/A »  
 
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IainMacCallum
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Re: Can you trust the National Trust?
Reply #9 - Feb 16th, 2006 at 11:32pm
 
It appears that the National Trust have outsourced their “customer-facing activities” to Vertex Data Sciences. Vertex’s home web-site appears to be dead, but Google found this on the National Computing Centre site

http://www.nccmembership.co.uk/pooled/profiles/BF_COMP/view.asp?Q=BF_COMP_44676


“In the highly competitive outsourcing market, Vertex has emerged as a key player in the field. In little over five years the company has grown from an in-house function of its utility parent - FTSE 100 listed United Utilities - to become the UK's leading business process outsourcing company specialising in customer management. Vertex exists to help its clients manage their customer-facing activities, achieve excellence in customer service and, most importantly, build profitable relationships with its clients' customers. Vertex develops and implements effective customer management outsourcing solutions for many leading organisations in the commercial, utility and public sectors.”

From the reply I had from the NT, it seems Vertex have not done a very good job of “building profitable relationships with the NT’s customers.”

I think the answer to the question I posed as the subject of this thread has to be a resounding NO.


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NonGeographicalMan
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Re: Can you trust the National Trust?
Reply #10 - Feb 17th, 2006 at 5:07am
 
IainMacCallum wrote on Feb 16th, 2006 at 11:32pm:
Vertex exists to help its clients manage their customer-facing activities, achieve excellence in customer service and, most importantly, build profitable relationships with its clients' customers.


Although the 0870 number may have only brought in 0.5% of the National Trust's total revenue that probably represents a huge percentage offset against the annual cost of its call centre contract.

Those who operate 0870 numbers seem to think nothing of engaging in maximum economy with the truth.

01925 234 000 is in fact the main switchboard of United Utilities despite its 118118.co.uk listing against Vertex The www.vertex.co.uk website now appears to be operating normally.  The following make interesting reading:-

http://www.vertex.co.uk/vertex/jsp/our_history.jsp?mpos=m1|m1.1

Shows they are Westminster City Council's main outsourcing partner for call centres and have been awarded "Best Outsource Relationship".  And we all know how unpopular Westminster City Council's outsourced call centre is.

Its management team and directors are listed here.

www.vertex.co.uk/vertex/jsp/management_team.jsp?mpos=m1|m1.2

You may care to email some of them (I expect its the usual firstname.lastname@vertex.co.uk) with questions about how an overseas caller or someone using a mobile phone can avoid paying prohibitive call costs way above that for 01/02 calls.   You may also want to draw their attention to the following:-

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

and

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

and

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

and

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

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

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
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« Last Edit: Feb 17th, 2006 at 5:21am by N/A »  
 
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jrawle
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Re: Can you trust the National Trust?
Reply #11 - Feb 17th, 2006 at 4:46pm
 
Quote:
http://www.vertex.co.uk/vertex/jsp/our_history.jsp?mpos=m1|m1.1

Shows they are Westminster City Council's main outsourcing partner for call centres and have been awarded "Best Outsource Relationship".  And we all know how unpopular Westminster City Council's outsourced call centre is.


These are the people who have told their employees, who work for Westminster City Council, that their jobs are about to move to Scotland:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4638400.stm

This shows what lengths they will go to to cut costs, regardless of the impact it has on people's lives.
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joe65
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Re: Can you trust the National Trust?
Reply #12 - Feb 19th, 2006 at 9:13pm
 
Who are the National Truss supporting ?
National rate Calls of course ?

How could you have missed it ?
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There are those who count,&&An' those who cann't,&&An' those who count  on the both of 'em.
 
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