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Which report on premium helplines (Read 26,108 times)
Keith
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #15 - May 29th, 2008 at 7:06pm
 
On Working Lunch they put the 0845 cost higher than the 0844 cost. I think they were quoting the amounts you highlight. Odd.
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Heinz
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #16 - May 29th, 2008 at 8:06pm
 
derrick wrote on May 29th, 2008 at 5:47pm:
Part of the post in #10 above,(nothing against the poster); -

A 10-minute call from a BT landline to a geographic number costs 40p at most. But the same call can cost up to 1 to an 0870 or 0871 number, 60p for an 0845 number and 50p for an 0844 number.

Were do they get this from?
A 10 minute call from a BT line to 0845 will cost 20p plus the 6p set up fee!

I think they were quoting Sky's new (outrageous) prices.
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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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Dave
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #17 - May 29th, 2008 at 8:47pm
 
Source: Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/may/29/consumeraffairs

Which? exposes high-cost helplines
Ed Ewing
Thursday May 29 2008

<<
The consumer association Which? today accused the DVLA and TV Licensing of overcharging for their telephone helplines.

The two organisations joined more than 30 others that charge up to 1 for a 10-minute call in a "hall of shame", according to the Stop these rip-off calls report. A 10-minute call from a BT landline to a standard 01 or 02 number costs 40p.

According to Which? the DVLA made 3.4m from its 0870 number in the last financial year.

Neil Fowler, editor of Which? magazine, said: "It's unacceptable that companies and government agencies can make big money from people calling helplines.

"Why should you pay for the privilege of making a complaint or getting a problem fixed?"

Both the DVLA and TV Licensing defended their call charges.

A spokesman for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency said: "DVLA does not make money from its telephone lines; any revenue collected goes back into providing valuable services to the public."

He added: "DVLA is committed to transferring all its 0870 to [cheaper] 03 numbers. That process is already underway."

In a bid to regulate high call charges, Telecoms regulator Ofcom introduced 03 numbers last year. They cost the same as calling a standard 01 or 02 landline number. The regulator also plans to stop organisations making money from the most expensive 0870 numbers.

A TV Licensing spokesperson said there were reasons behind the call charges: "We believe it's fairer for those who want to contact us by telephone to pay for it."

The spokesperson said TV Licensing is funded by the BBC and as such, "has an obligation to keep licence fee collection costs to a minimum."

She said: "In our opinion, 0844 numbers are best for our callers because we can be clear about costs per minute from a BT landline.

"The cost of a three-minute call from a BT landline is 21p - less than the cost of a second-class stamp. They are also fair because all callers with a BT landline pay the capped price irrespective of where they live."


The Which? report identifies some of Britain's biggest companies, including British Gas, Barclays and Tiscali, as among the worst offenders. They all use higher-charging 0871, 0870, 0844 or 0845 numbers for customer service or technical support lines.

Organisations that use these numbers can share the revenue from calls with the phone service provider - the longer a customer stays on the line, the more the organisation earns.

Which? also called customer helplines to find out how long callers are kept waiting to speak to someone. British Gas, AOL and the DVLA kept people hanging on longest, with average waiting times of around three minutes. One call to AOL was held for more than 15 minutes, at a cost of 75p from a BT landline.
>>


So in the first sentence TV Licensing says it believes that people should pay for calls and that the free market in telephone packages should not extend to calls to it. In the second sentence it says it has an "obligation" to keep these charges to a minimum.

Then there's the nonsense about it costing less than a second class stamp. What has the price of posting a letter, which must be transported and sorted, got to do with the price of electronic telecommunications?
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« Last Edit: May 29th, 2008 at 8:51pm by Dave »  
 
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Keith
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #18 - May 29th, 2008 at 10:43pm
 
Also the red herring of 'irrespective of where they live again'. The implication being that it would not be 'irrespective of where you live' with an 01 or 02 number which of course is tosh.

Trading Standards have given clear guidance that this sort of phrase should not be used as it is misleading. Doesn't seem to stop anyone from doing so however.
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #19 - May 29th, 2008 at 11:43pm
 
http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=161366&command=displayC...

DVLA IS MAKING MILLIONS OUT OF COMPLAINTS CALLS

EMMA JUDD
EMMA.JUDD@SWWMEDIA.CO.UK

09:00 - 29 May 2008

<<
Swansea's Dvla has come top of a list of shame for over-charging people who telephone it to complain.Research carried out by Which? consumer magazine found that the DVLA made 3.4 million from its 0870 number in the past financial year.

It was one of the companies that left customers hanging on for the longest, with an average waiting time of three minutes and 16 seconds.

The magazine says the Morriston-based Government agency plans to switch its helplines and technical support to cheaper 03, 0800, or geographic numbers.



Neil Fowler, Editor of Which?, said: "Why should you pay for the privilege of making a complaint or getting a problem fixed?

"It's unacceptable that companies and Government agencies can make big money from people calling helplines.

"Check if there's a cheaper number or ask the company to refund the call cost - it's the least they can do if you're calling about a faulty product or bad service."

More than 30 organisations are listed in the magazine's Hall of Shame in its June edition, released today.

These include Tiscali, British Gas and Barclays, as well as Government agencies such as TV Licensing and DVLA.

They all use higher-charging 0871, 0870, 0844 or 0845 numbers for customer services or technical support line.

Organisations that use these numbers can share revenue from calls with their phone service provider, which means the longer the customer stays on the phone, the more money the organisation makes.

Ofcom introduced the new 03 numbers last year, which cost the same as calling an 01 or 02 number, and it plans to stop organisations making money from 0870 numbers.

A spokesman for the DVLA said it was aware of the Ofcom report and was moving to comply with the new 0300 guidelines.

He said: "I am sure you will appreciate that we cannot adopt any new number ranges until a definitive Ofcom paper is republished and we are clear on the full implications.

"With regard to refunding the cost of calls to inquirers, DVLA do not reimburse callers for the cost of telephoning the agency. I should explain that a large portion of calls to DVLA are for general information which is already freely available to members of the public from our website and information leaflets."

The spokesman added that the agency did not keep callers on hold to make more money.
>>
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Keith
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #20 - May 30th, 2008 at 10:03am
 
Clearly the Which Report and all the publicity it got will have informed just so many more people, but how do we capitalise on this so that it doesn't just become a one day wonder?

PS I met a Doctor the other day who was just absolutely livid about GPs using  the 0844 numbers!
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #21 - May 30th, 2008 at 3:30pm
 
Heinz wrote on May 29th, 2008 at 8:06pm:
derrick wrote on May 29th, 2008 at 5:47pm:
Part of the post in #10 above,(nothing against the poster); -

A 10-minute call from a BT landline to a geographic number costs 40p at most. But the same call can cost up to 1 to an 0870 or 0871 number, 60p for an 0845 number and 50p for an 0844 number.

Were do they get this from?
A 10 minute call from a BT line to 0845 will cost 20p plus the 6p set up fee!

I think they were quoting Sky's new (outrageous) prices.


They have specifically stated "from a BT line", I also heard it on several radio news reports and it was on Working Lunch, if they meant to say SKY, then they should have done so, the rest of the prices were correct from a BT line, so why would they mix that one up?
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Dave
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #22 - May 30th, 2008 at 7:47pm
 
Source: Manchester Evening News

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1051904_weve_got_your_number

We've got your number
Paul Britton
30/ 5/2008

<<
THE MEN today publishes the low-cost alternative phone numbers for the companies who have been named and shamed for using premium-rate lines.

Which? found more than 30 companies and government bodies charging customers by using 0870, 0871, 0844 and 0845 prefixes for customer service, call centre, technical support or bill-paying lines.

It said they are using the higher-rate numbers and share revenue with the phone service suppliers, meaning the longer a consumer remains on a line, the more money the company makes.

Which? also surveyed how long consumers were kept on hold.

The consumer group highlighted Admiral Insurance, Bell Insurance, Diamond Insurance, Elephant Insurance and broadband providers Tiscali, who all use highest rate prefix 0871 numbers. Numbers with this prefix can charge up to 10p per minute.

Carphone Warehouse, which has offices in Warrington, Philips, Sony and Apple technical support services were named for using 0870 prefixes.

Big-name companies

Other big-name national companies included AOL, Sky, Barclays, Direct Line, which has offices in Quay Street, Manchester, Orange, TV Licensing and the DVLA.

The Which? study revealed the DVLA made 3.4m from its 0870 number in the last 12 months.

British Gas, which has a call centre in Stretford, and Virgin Media, with offices in Wythenshawe, were included in the list for using the less expensive 0844 and 0845 numbers.

But all the companies have freephone and local numbers which are not advertised.

The DVLA, British Gas and AOL Broadband were found to have kept consumers hanging on the line the longest.

One call, to AOL Broadband, was kept on hold for 15 minutes.

Many of the local companies called into question have now defended the use of the numbers, saying they use the cheapest 845 option.

"Self-service"

A British Gas spokesman said: "We're offering our customers more ways to self-service, via the internet for example. It's important to stress that our emergency numbers for the public who may need to report a gas leak, are free - 0800 number. We use 0845, which is one of the cheapest chargeable rates - allowing us to strike the right balance between accessibility and customer service, which has improved by 85 per cent."

A spokesman for Virgin Media said they do have 0800 numbers which are sales numbers.

But the spokesman added: "We do use 0845 for customer services but that is optional. We give customers the choice."

"Our customers can get through to us for free by dialling 150."

Jennifer Culley, spokesman for Direct Line, said they introduced 0845 numbers several years ago to ensure their customers paid only local rates for calls.

She said: "A decision was taken not to use 0800 (freephone) numbers as the provision of such a service must be reflected in the cost base and, in turn, the premiums charged.

"Determined to keep our premiums amongst the most competitive in the market, Direct Line chose instead to negotiate with suppliers in order to get the best possible deal for our customers, and in doing so continues to pass on the benefit of local rather than national rates directly to them."


Review

And Warrington-based United Utilities companies vowed to constantly review their rates. It currently uses a 0845 number for bill payment and enquiries but calls are charged at local rates, a spokesman said.

[]
>>

Direct Line's reason for switching to 0845 is now not relevant, as has been in the case since 2004. I don't expect companies like this to switch back to geographicals because it will probably change its justification to one of providing a single number nationally, rather than providing different geographical numbers for different offices. I expect 03 will get the thumbs down because it will cost them for incoming calls.
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Dave
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #23 - Jun 1st, 2008 at 4:15am
 
There's an article in today's Independent on Sunday which is along the lines of the others, so I won't post it in full, but here's a link to it:

http://www.independent.co.uk/money/invest-save/which-names-30-firms-in-its-hall-...
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NGMsGhost
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #24 - Jun 7th, 2008 at 12:43pm
 
derrick wrote on May 30th, 2008 at 3:30pm:
They have specifically stated "from a BT line", I also heard it on several radio news reports and it was on Working Lunch, if they meant to say SKY, then they should have done so, the rest of the prices were correct from a BT line, so why would they mix that one up?


They are quoting the official non BT Together discount non discounted rates for calling 0845 and 0870.  These are only still paid by people on the BT Light User Scheme.

Interesting how Which can get so much publicity once they choose to come out against these numbers while we individually have managed to get so comparatively little over the years.  Unfortunately the National Press will generally only print press releases from large established national bodies.  There is very little independent minded investigative journalism on the national newspapers it would seem.

Presumably if Which had repeatedly spoken out against these numbers 10 years ago and never taken up using them itself then the whole despicable con could not have got going.

I suspect the articles by Which and others now are the product of the culmination of years of lobbying by members of this group.  The BBC and ITV humiliation over its 09 phone call cons has also been very helpful in starting to change the balance.

Of course Ofcom still allows 0845 and 0870 to be called Local Rate and National Rate by numerous telcos. Shocked Angry Cry
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #25 - Dec 18th, 2008 at 2:34pm
 
Received my gas bill today from British Gas and they have changed from a 0845 number to 0800 number 0800 048 0202
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NGMsGhost
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Re: Which report on premium helplines
Reply #26 - Dec 18th, 2008 at 2:46pm
 
jimjim wrote on Dec 18th, 2008 at 2:34pm:
Received my gas bill today from British Gas and they have changed from a 0845 number to 0800 number 0800 048 0202


Clearly this is a well intentioned move on their part except what about the 40% of calls now from mobile phones so where is their new 03 number for calling them from those? Roll Eyes
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