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Jobcentre and their 0845 - their reply (Read 22,398 times)
a01020304
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Jobcentre and their 0845 - their reply
Aug 6th, 2010 at 12:21pm
 
I sent a email to JC head office back in June 2010 and finally got a reply today August 6th. I asked them why they discriminate against the poor and use 0845 numbers and not the 03 numbers. I also gave them a breakdown of 0845 costs based on a 10 minute call, with 0845 being the most expensive especially for unemployed people that use mobile payg and public payphones.

The jobcentre caters for the poor and unemployed yet they dont provide a cheap option to access their services. Not everone has a BT line or contracted mobiles. To say 0845 is cheaper is a lie, yes it might be for BT users, but with so many providers out there BT is not #1 prover any longer.

My breakdown letter I sent them is shown here

http://www.4shared.com/document/8Lrvwata/jcpf.html
As usual they say 0845 the cheapest when we all know its not.


Here is their reply.

Thank you for your email dated 7 June regarding the use of 0845 numbers within Jobcentre Plus.  This has been passed to me to reply on behalf of Jobcentre Plus Contact Centres.  I hope my reply will address your concerns.

Jobcentre Plus is a part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).  The DWP policy surrounding the cost of calls is that all calls should be free to our 0800 numbers to claim:

     ·       State Pension;
     ·       Pension Credit;
     ·       Jobseekers’ Allowance;
     ·       Employment and Support Allowance; and
     ·       Emergency payments or crisis loans.

It is free to call DWP 0800 numbers from BT landlines. DWP has secured agreements to ensure that it is free to call via nine of the UK’s largest mobile phone operators, representing 95% of the mobile market.  We are continuing to work with the remaining mobile phone providers to negotiate free calls to DWP 0800 numbers.

The 0845 numbers are not part of the agreement because they are for enquiries that typically take less time to resolve.  These calls are charged at the standard rate for landlines and mobile phones costs can vary from different operators and contracts.  DWP does not use premium rate numbers.

The reason the Department selected 0845 numbers is that costs of calling 0845 numbers remain lower than many alternatives and, where it is possible, using BT landlines to call 0845 numbers is usually the lowest cost option.  BT account for two-thirds of landline provision and our recent research shows that over 70% of our customers contact us using landlines.  Therefore, we concluded that 0845 numbers offered the best solution for the majority of our customers.  We are aware of 03 numbers, but our analysis still confirms that the majority of callers will be worse off if we moved to 03.  However, we are monitoring the market place regularly and reviewing OFCOM briefings about charges for 0845.

In the past Jobcentre Plus was criticised for the large number of geographic numbers it used; for example 740 numbers for individual jobcentres.  Consequently, Jobcentre Plus has adopted a strategy of rationalising its published telephone numbers by working towards single national numbers for its delivery services: new benefit claims, benefit enquiries, jobcentres and jobsearch and vacancy submission.  These changes will enable us to undertake more effective and targeted marketing of these services at a national and local level using a small number of national numbers rather than the previous position were we had thousands of geographic numbers.  The migration of jobcentres to a national 0845 number is the latest stage in this rationalisation.  Direct dial calls, for example to a customer’s Personal Adviser are not affected by these changes and will still be used and encouraged using a local geographic number.

The Department uses 0845 numbers because they are readily recognised and understood by our customers.  Call costs vary according to the service provider, and the “call plan” the customer has.

Where a customer raises a concern over the cost of the call or asks, we will offer to call them back.  DWP also encourages customers to use on line facilities as an alternative to calling its 0800 and 0845 services.

The Department also provides “Customer Access Phones” in a large number of its Jobcentre Plus offices where customers can make benefits claims or pursue job applications and the customer does not have to pay when using these facilities.

In order for any future enquiries to be answered as promptly and accurately as possible they need to be made through the appropriate channels, please see the details below.

I hope this reply has been helpful.

yours
ets, etc
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« Last Edit: Aug 6th, 2010 at 12:45pm by a01020304 »  
 
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Dave
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Re: Jobcentre and their 0845 - their reply
Reply #1 - Aug 6th, 2010 at 1:53pm
 
More stonewalling from Jobcentre Plus. Roll Eyes

Perhaps Jobcentre Plus should declare that BT is its sponsor and have done with it. It is behaving like a commercial organisation and not a public service, which it is supposed to be.

It chooses to discriminate against those members of the public who do not subscribe to telecommunications services provided by anyone other than BT. BT is its chosen provider.


In response to specific points in the correspondence:
  • "DWP does not use premium rate numbers." The DWP does not use Premium Rate Service (PRS) numbers; they begin 0871, 0872 and 09. However, 0845 numbers do carry a premium or subsidy that is passed to the receiver of the call.
  • "The reason the Department selected 0845 numbers is that costs of calling 0845 numbers remain lower than many alternatives and, where it is possible, using BT landlines to call 0845 numbers is usually the lowest cost option.  BT account for two-thirds of landline provision and our recent research shows that over 70% of our customers contact us using landlines.  Therefore, we concluded that 0845 numbers offered the best solution for the majority of our customers.  We are aware of 03 numbers, but our analysis still confirms that the majority of callers will be worse off if we moved to 03.  However, we are monitoring the market place regularly and reviewing OFCOM briefings about charges for 0845." BT customers who pay for their calls during the daytime (i.e. do not have an inclusive element at that time) pay 2 pence per minute for 0845 calls whereas they pay about 6 pence per minute to a geographic number. BT customers who have an inclusive element at the time of calling get 0845 and geographic calls included, so there is no advantage and no disadvantage for those.

The long and short of it is that those calling from non-BT telephone services are paying much more than the 4 pence per minute that BT customers are saving. The former are, in effect, paying for the saving enjoyed by the latter.

With public sector services this is clearly unacceptable.


Read more on this on my blog and the paper I produced DWP - The case for 03 telephone numbers.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Jobcentre and their 0845 - their reply
Reply #2 - Aug 7th, 2010 at 5:59am
 
My favourite piece of the DWP argument, which is generally presented, surrounds the claim that "the majority" of callers benefit from the fact that a 0845 number is used.

If 70% of calls are from landlines, two-thirds of which are provided by BT, then by my reckoning over half of callers are paying a premium to call - 53.33333%. Those who call from BT whilst their inclusive package is in effect do not make any saving over the cost of a call to a geographic number.

This has nothing to do with overall value for money, it is simply improper and unfair to cause any caller to incur a surcharge to the benefit of the public service provider or taxpayer. The fact that some callers (it could be 90% so far as I am concerned) are protected from the surcharge by the regulation of BT's charges makes no difference whatsoever to the iniquity of this tax on claimants.

We must applaud what was done with 0800 calls and mobiles. It is now for the new government to show that it is committed to fairness by moving on to the next step. Ofcom is likely to take the revenue share off them in a year or two anyway.


On a further point of fact - the reference to "the standard rate for landlines" is meaningless and the statement is therefore false. There is no such thing. There is no fundamental difference between landlines and mobiles, other than there being one provider allegedly with a majority of landline rental provision, but no longer a majority of landline calls! Even that provider does not charge for calls to 0845 numbers at a "standard rate" - nobody does.
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« Last Edit: Aug 7th, 2010 at 6:09am by SilentCallsVictim »  
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frank_maccfc
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Re: Jobcentre and their 0845 - their reply
Reply #3 - Aug 18th, 2010 at 2:08pm
 
Just started signing on and can't believe the 0845 situation, just written to Iain Duncan Smith, Minister for Department of Work and Pensions , letter goes as follows:
Dear Mr Duncan Smith,

Unfortunately I recently started to apply for JSA and I was immensely disappointed and frustrated to find that people who aren't new claimants are asked to use 0845 numbers in their dealings with your various departments. I hope you can appreciate that they are not cheap to call vs other landlines regardless of whether you use a mobile or a landline. This is because they are rarely included in the minute bundles that the phone operators offer consumers. Whilst I'm given to understand that these numbers are not revenue generating I think it's high time that this policy is urgently reviewed.

So I write with two requests:

1 Please confirm that the 0845 numbers do not generate revenue for you.
2. Please consider switching to using 0800 numbers (best scenario) or switching to numbers beginning with 03 or giving people an alternative local number to the 0845 number.

If you do propose to continue with this policy I would really like to understand the rationale behind this decision. To continue with it would be unfair when you consider the likely financial circumstances of the majority of people who claim benefits and JSA in particular. I have hope that this request is considered positively as from speeches and interviews you've given I believe you have a passion for addressing social equallity. I'm therefore sure you will agree with me that changing this arrangement would be one step towards addressing this issue.

I look forward to your response.

kind regards,
etc

I will post a response as and when I get one, in the meantime the more people that write to the DWP and or their MP the more likely it is to get something done about it, feel free to use this as a rought template. I wrote to secretaryofstate@dwp.gsi.gov.uk.
yours fighting the good fight,
FM
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Re: Jobcentre and their 0845 - their reply
Reply #4 - Aug 18th, 2010 at 2:36pm
 
frank_maccfc wrote on Aug 18th, 2010 at 2:08pm:
1 Please confirm that the 0845 numbers do not generate revenue for you.

Hello and welcome to SAYNOTO0870.COM.

If I may, I would like to address the first question you put to the Minister.

In December 2007 the Department changed the contract which resulted in the ceasation of the revenue stream from its telephone provider of around half a million pounds per year. Today, this revenue remains with the DWP's provider.

There is a common misconception that the central issue with 0845 numbers (and other similar so-called "revenue sharing" or "special service" numbers such as those beginning 0844) is that they allow their users to receive revenue. There is also perhaps a misconception that those who do not receive such payments are somehow less dirty than those who do.

It is the framework the facilitates payment of revenue streams that lies at the heart of the issue. The subsidy to users of 0845 numbers happens regardless and "revenue share" payments are merely cashback payments as part of their service contract.
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Re: Jobcentre and their 0845 - their reply
Reply #5 - Jan 4th, 2013 at 10:31pm
 
For those of us who do not have (are not wealthy enough to have) a landline - only a mobile - skype is a viable option for 0800 numbers - if you have some internet allowance - great. But the 0845 'benefits line' is still charged at about 10p per min on Skype - which is fine if they answer your call - but not if they keep you hanging on for over an hour before answering - or worse still - just cut you off after waiting 35 minutes. Both have happened to me in the past two days - costing me a fortune. (I am ringing the benefits line because i need the money - and do not have any to throw away on these phone calls!)
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Re: Jobcentre and their 0845 - their reply
Reply #6 - Jan 4th, 2013 at 10:49pm
 
k.smith wrote on Jan 4th, 2013 at 10:31pm:
For those of us who do not have (are not wealthy enough to have) a landline - only a mobile - skype is a viable option for 0800 numbers - if you have some internet allowance - great. But the 0845 'benefits line' is still charged at about 10p per min on Skype - which is fine if they answer your call - but not if they keep you hanging on for over an hour before answering - or worse still - just cut you off after waiting 35 minutes. Both have happened to me in the past two days - costing me a fortune. (I am ringing the benefits line because i need the money - and do not have any to throw away on these phone calls!)

Hello and welcome to SayNoTo0870.com.

You might like to start a thread in the Call Providers section on the best way of calling 0845 numbers from a mobile (or services such as Skype via a mobile internet connection). I think that 10ppm via Skype might be bettered; some knowledgeable people frequent this forum.  Wink
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