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Hats Off to Ace Internet for new 0161 Contact Nmbr (Read 12,753 times)
NGMsGhost
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Hats Off to Ace Internet for new 0161 Contact Nmbr
Nov 8th, 2006 at 5:59pm
 
Hats Off to smaller UK Internet Service Provider Ace Internet who have struck a blow today against the general trend of ISPs to use contact numbers ranging from 0845 and 0870 through to Premium Rate 50p per minute by introducing a published Geographic (0161) number alternative and introducing Voip to Voip access to support SIP and other similar free of charge direct internet contact methods.

Their press release specifically mentions that 0845 numbers are excluded from fixed price 01/02 calling plans.

Add to that the fact that Ace offers free broadband connection with only a 3 month minimum contract period and no penalty charges for leaving them after that time and you can see that they are clearly one of the most ethically conscious and customer focused ISPs in the UK.

Its a shame they still think 0845 is "local rate" but I'm sure Ofcom is to blame for that still very widely held misapprehension amongst uk telecoms users.

Quote:
Until now, callers needed to use a local call rate (0845) number to call the ISP for sales or support, but with more and more people now using Internet phones and VOIP as a method of communication, it is now possible to also call them by making a VOIP call.

Callers can use many popular VOIP providers such as Gradwell, FWD and Sipgate to call, normally free of charge.

As well as the new VOIP method of calling , they have also set up a geographical 0161 contact number. This is good news for callers who have "inclusive call bundles" via their telco. Whilst the 0845 number is good for customers calling from all over the county to call at local rates, most telco's do not allow 0845 numbers as part of their inclusive call packages so now the caller can now choose to use their inclusive call allowance.

Information about the new contact details can be found at

http://www.ace-internet.co.uk/contact.html
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« Last Edit: Nov 8th, 2006 at 6:43pm by NGMsGhost »  

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NGMsGhost
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Re: ISP Ace Launches 01/02 & Voip to Voip Contact
Reply #1 - Nov 8th, 2006 at 6:41pm
 
I also sent them this email to disabuse them of any possible misunderstanding they may still have about the true costs of calling 0845 phone numbers:-

Quote:
-----Original Message-----
Sent: 08 November 2006 18:39
To: sales@aceinternet.co.uk
Cc: helpdesk@aceinternet.co.uk; accounts@aceinternet.co.uk
Subject: 0845 Number is Hidden Premium Rate & Not "Lo-Call" Rate

Dear Ace,

As a current ADSL Max broadband user and potential future customer of your company's ADSL Max service I would like to very much welcome your announcement today of a publicly available Geographic 0161 number alternative to your 0845 Special Rate Services number and the launch of other Voip to Voip direct internet contact methods such as SIP to SIP.

I would also like to welcome the fact that in your press release you recognise that many uk telecoms consumers do not like 0845 numbers because they are excluded from fixed price calling plans which offer all 01/02 calls for a set fixed monthly fee (eg BT Option 3).

However despite commending you on all these welcome changes I must still add one point of criticism which appears to be a continued misapprehension or misunderstanding by either your public relations company and/or marketing director that 0845 numbers are either "Local Rate" or "Lo-Call" and offer consumers any form of advantage whatsoever compared to the cheapest method of contacting you by a conventional PSTN phone call.  In almost every case that cheapest method of contacting you will be your 0161 geographic number for almost all of your customers.

The term "Lo-Call is an old BT brand name that no longer factually represents the status of 0845 calls and it is a brand name which BT now no longer use, instead describing 0845 calls on BT phone bills as merely "0845 rate".  Also the fact of the matter is that after 6pm in the evening a 1 hour call to your 0161 number would cost a BT Option 1 customer just 5.5p while a 1 hour call to your 0845 number would cost them 60p.  Also many mobile phone operators charge up to 35p per minute to call an 0845 number and exclude 0845 numbers from bundled minutes on contract mobile phones but allow 0161 geographic numbers to be called as part of a customer's bundled minutes on a contract mobile phone or from as little as 5p per minute on a Pay As You Go mobile phone.

The only customers of your company who an 0845 number could possibly be cheaper for are the tiny number of UK households who subscribe to the BT "Light User Scheme" (which only lets you make no more than a few pounds of calls a quarter to qualify for it and also imposes the condition that you must not have broadband on your line or own a mobile phone of any kind) who would find the 0845 number very slightly cheaper than the 0161 phone number but even then only if they lived outside the 0161 phone code area.

To gain a fuller understanding of the real status of 0845 numbers as lower cost hidden premium rate numbers can I refer you to the following references:-
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 on 0845 and 0870 numbers

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

and

three 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


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 it agreed policy to stop the future use of 0845 and 0870 numbers for accessing Council services.

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

I look forward to hearing from you regarding this matter.

Regards,
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« Last Edit: Nov 8th, 2006 at 6:41pm by NGMsGhost »  

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Re: Hats Off to Ace Internet for new 0161 Contact
Reply #2 - Nov 8th, 2006 at 10:18pm
 
Someone on this site recently asked for a model response to the 0845 problem from which to base their own correspondence - now we have one! 
A excellent letter NGM.
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Re: Hats Off to Ace Internet for new 0161 Contact
Reply #3 - Nov 8th, 2006 at 11:29pm
 
kk wrote on Nov 8th, 2006 at 10:18pm:
Someone on this site recently asked for a model response to the 0845 problem from which to base their own correspondence - now we have one! 

A excellent letter NGM.


I think you are referring to my letter from Para 4 onwards as that is its only generic element that can be reused.  The rest is specific to this company's circumstances.

Even then I have removed my usual link to the Parliamentary EDM on 0870 numbers as this company is using only 0845 numbers.
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Re: Hats Off to Ace Internet for new 0161 Contact
Reply #4 - Nov 9th, 2006 at 5:52pm
 
Tried calling Ace today on their 0161 GN to find out the name of their Managing Director or Marketing Director which is not on their website and which extensive Googling does not help with.

For 25 minutes they said they would be getting to me soon after which a voice mail message played saying sorry they were too busy to make my call and requiring me to leave a number to be called back on a voice message box.  You would have thought if they knew the queue was that long they could have done this after 1 minute.

What's the betting I never get called back! No wonder they have been forced to publish their 0161 GN and SIP to SIP etc alternatives to their original 0845 number.
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Re: Hats Off to Ace Internet for new 0161 Contact
Reply #5 - Dec 22nd, 2006 at 1:49pm
 
Hi NGMsGhost

I've hjust sportted this thread, so apologies for the delay in repsponding.

I see from our records that we did call you back promptly that evening, and in addition we responded to the email you sent to us. We also amended some parts of our website to bring the outdated phrases of "local call rate" etc up to date.

As a side note, our call queue times are now dramatically less following the introduction of more call handling staff.

Kind Regards

Steve
http://www.ace-internet.co.uk
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Re: Hats Off to Ace Internet for new 0161 Contact
Reply #6 - Dec 22nd, 2006 at 2:06pm
 
Ace Internet wrote on Dec 22nd, 2006 at 1:49pm:
Hi NGMsGhost

I've just sportted this thread, so apologies for the delay in responding.

I see from our records that we did call you back promptly that evening, and in addition we responded to the email you sent to us. We also amended some parts of our website to bring the outdated phrases of "local call rate" etc up to date.

As a side note, our call queue times are now dramatically less following the introduction of more call handling staff.

Kind Regards

Steve
http://www.ace-internet.co.uk


Hi Steve,

Its good to see that this website is now becoming important enough that more and more companies are taking an interest in comments about their phone numbers posted on it.

However I was concerned to see your company's latest press release  about its new Voip free contact service, which makes a number of alarmingly inaccurate statements that most people pay "local rate" to call an 0845 number apart from those with inclusive calling plans.

This still fails to correctly understand that most people only pay 5.5p for one hour with BT for a call to an 01/02 geographic number (there are no local or national numbers any more and local area telephone short codes have long since been abolished by BT) off peak but will pay 60p for an hour off peak to call a number starting 0845 or indeed more than that with other major telcos like TalkTalk.

Its such a pity to see Ace trying to do the right thing and then still not getting it right due to apparently not correctly understanding that 0845 calls are not Local Rate for anobody any more.  Please repeat after me "our 0845 number is not cheaper for anyone to call and costs most people using it more money than using our geographic 01 phone number".

I am also somewhat alarmed about the prices for most of your retail broadband products on your website being quoted in round numbers to the nearest pound that do not include VAT and failing to make this clear to users of the site.  This is unfortunately likely to fall foul of trading standards law if someone makes a complaint to Trading Standards as prices aimed at retail customers should be quoted inclusive of VAT.

Quote:
7th November 2006

Ace Internet lowers the cost of calling them.

Ace Internet have today introduced a new way of contacting them - by VOIP.

Until now, callers needed to use a local call rate (0845) number to call the ISP for sales or support, but with more and more people now using Internet phones and VOIP as a method of communication, it is now possible to also call them by making a VOIP call.

Callers can use many popular VOIP providers such as Gradwell, FWD and Sipgate to call, normally free of charge.

As well as the new VOIP method of calling , they have also set up a geographical 0161 contact number. This is good news for callers who have "inclusive call bundles" via their telco. Whilst the 0845 number is good for customers calling from all over the county to call at local rates, most telcos do not allow 0845 numbers as part of their inclusive call packages so now the caller can now choose to use their inclusive call allowance.

Information about the new contact details can be found at http://www.ace-internet.co.uk/contact.html
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« Last Edit: Dec 22nd, 2006 at 2:15pm by NGMsGhost »  

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Re: Hats Off to Ace Internet for new 0161 Contact
Reply #7 - Dec 22nd, 2006 at 2:14pm
 
Steve,

In case you or others at Ace still don't understand why 0845 is not Local Rate the below website links may help:-

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 guidances from the Advertising Standards Authority

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

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 (which by implication also makes the same point to a lesser extent for 0845 numbers such as local Job Centres of which there has been widespread recent Parliamentary criticism)

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

Or see my email to John Mobley, MD of NewNet, in the thread I have started about their 0845 phone numbers.
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