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Confusing 116 Prefix Freephone Numbers (Read 410 times)
NGMsGhost
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Confusing 116 Prefix Freephone Numbers
Aug 19th, 2019 at 12:06pm
 
As I have had cause to call them a couple of times since my mother died 21 months ago I happen to know that the Samaritans and a number of other confidential advice lines now use 116 prefixed Freephone numbers rather than normal 0800 and 0808 numbers that everyone recognises as being Freephone. For instance the Samaritans number is now 116 123 (used to be an 084 at one time)but they go on to say about cost that "This number is free to call from both landlines and mobiles, including pay-as-you-go mobiles. You do not need to have any credit or call allowance on your plan to call 116 123."

I really don't understand why some of these confidential advice lines actually think its a good idea to have a 116 prefixed number when it looks so very like a 118 prefixed number that everyone knows can cost several pounds a minute and when 116 being a Freephone number is not at all well known or understood.

However I assume its the same misguided nonsense thinking that has led to Royal Mail coming up with Freepost addresses such as Freepost Royal Mail Customer Services with no address or postcode because some marketing simpleton thinks that's shorter and easier.  But I personally hate Freepost addresses with no postcode or address as I think someone misinformed in Royal Mail's sorting process could easily misroute it and surely all their auto sorting processes are also all based around having a postcode?

Its all based around the same nonsense thinking that its easier to call 101 at extra cost for Police non emergency calls rather than the Police just getting an 03 number or an 080 number like everyone else running a call centre.

Am I alone in feeling its an error for The Samaritans and other Cry For Help lines to use 116 instead of 080 as I feel that the unknown cost may put many people who need to talk to someone urgently off making the call at all.......................
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Confusing 116 Prefix Freephone Numbers
Reply #1 - Aug 19th, 2019 at 12:43pm
 
Whilst the possibility of confusing 116xxx with 118xxx, in terms of cost, clearly could exist, I am not sure if it does arise to any significant extent. Research could be warranted.

In time to come, it will be interesting to see if the government seeks to reverse the effect of every implementation of EU policy - such as use of the 116 prefix. Some may argue that it has a specific mandate from the people of the UK, demanding that we make "no deal" with the EU and undo everything that has resulted from our membership.

If there is to be a change on account of the similarity between 116 and 118, my preference would be for all 118 numbers to be migrated to a block in the 09 range. The principle of all numbers with a Service Charge beginning 09 is sound and achievable. The people of Reading (0118) would doubtless agree, as callers who fail to dial the leading "0" are connected to premium rate numbers in many cases.
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Ian01
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Re: Confusing 116 Prefix Freephone Numbers
Reply #2 - Aug 19th, 2019 at 2:19pm
 

The whole point of numbers starting 116 is that they are "Harmonised numbers of social importance". The same six-digit number is used for the same type of service throughout the EU as is already the case for the earlier 112 number for contacting the emergency services.

If you are visiting an EU member state or territory, if the same services are available in that place they will be found on the same telephone numbers as used in the UK.

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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Confusing 116 Prefix Freephone Numbers
Reply #3 - Aug 19th, 2019 at 2:38pm
 
Ian01 wrote on Aug 19th, 2019 at 2:19pm:
If you are visiting an EU member state or territory, if the same services are available in that place they will be found on the same telephone numbers as used in the UK.

BUT

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Aug 19th, 2019 at 12:43pm:
Some may argue that … the people of the UK demand that (the government) undo everything that has resulted from our membership (of the EU).


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NGMsGhost
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Re: Confusing 116 Prefix Freephone Numbers
Reply #4 - Aug 19th, 2019 at 6:20pm
 
Ian01 wrote on Aug 19th, 2019 at 2:19pm:
The whole point of numbers starting 116 is that they are "Harmonised numbers of social importance". The same six-digit number is used for the same type of service throughout the EU as is already the case for the earlier 112 number for contacting the emergency services.

If you are visiting an EU member state or territory, if the same services are available in that place they will be found on the same telephone numbers as used in the UK.


Just checked for Spain and while they do seem to use 118 for their equally costly Directory Enquiries numbers (see Informacion at http://www.alartec.com/2013/03/listado-de-telefonos-utiles-y-de-emergencias-en-e...) they don't seem to use 116 prefixed social support numbers on their own.

Instead the same web page lists only 900 116 016 for an information and help line on gender based violence.   900 numbers in Spain are freephone but 901 and 902 are the equivalent of 084/7 and used by large national call centres charging ripoff call rates (I believe in Spain that 901 and 902 are still widely used for customer service as their is ambiguity about their illegality according to https://www.osborneclarke.com/insights/the-term-basic-rate-in-customer-service-t...).

So anyway 116 is in the number but it is not its access code unlike the Spanish 118 directory enquiries number. Illogically some other Spanish Freephone numbers also begin with 800 as well as 900.

So basically I would suggest 116 is not actually at all widely adopted in the EU and not at all well known in the UK so the Samaritans would have been far better off using an 0800 or 0808 number (as they want people to call it and not have to worry if it is free and not a DQ number at up to £4 per minute).  So far as I know there was nothing in law stopping the Samaritans using a Freephone 080 prefixed number instead of the little known 116 prefix.  It also seems ridiculous to me that premium rate directory enquiry numbers charging up to £4 per minute are allowed to use 118 numbers at all rather than being available on 09 prefixes and only with a clear announcement of the call price and a need for a positive agreement to complete the call (i.e. press 7 or whatever to continue) before you are connected to them.

I clearly should respond to the recent Ofcom consultation on 084 and 087 numbers saying their continued abuse by people like Lowri Beck (installing Smart Meters and doing meter readings for Scottish Power and other) means they should be abolished entirely and those who want to charge more need to use proper 09 prefixed numbers.  But as I know from past bad experiences that Ofcom generally ignores the consumer and listens to the industry I am not very motivated to do so.
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« Last Edit: Aug 19th, 2019 at 6:21pm by NGMsGhost »  

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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Confusing 116 Prefix Freephone Numbers
Reply #5 - Aug 19th, 2019 at 8:43pm
 
NGMsGhost wrote on Aug 19th, 2019 at 6:20pm:
I clearly should respond to the recent Ofcom consultation on 084 and 087 numbers saying their continued abuse by people like Lowri Beck (installing Smart Meters and doing meter readings for Scottish Power and other) means they should be abolished entirely and those who want to charge more need to use proper 09 prefixed numbers.  But as I know from past bad experiences that Ofcom generally ignores the consumer and listens to the industry I am not very motivated to do so.

The
fair telecoms campaign
was very surprised that Ofcom raised the issue of closing the 084 and 087 ranges in the consultation to which we responded at - Response to - First consultation: Future of telephone numbers.

We feel that we have far more work to do in getting those who are still using these numbers, within the terms of current regulations, off them before a "close / migrate to 09" measure could be taken.

The timescale within which the switch to a fully IP network will be concluded seems tight, but if Ofcom is ready to consider it, then we are keen to push the idea - see Now is the time to stop using 084 and 087 telephone numbers.


Some may disagree, but we feel that it has always been the underlying Ofcom strategy to get people off the 084/087 ranges, even though this could never be declared publicly. These things take many years, as there is a limit to the amount of opposition that can be resisted.

We were genuinely surprised to see the idea of closing the ranges being floated by Ofcom as early as this year. It seems that use of numbers from these ranges has fallen substantially, albeit that there is some way yet to go.

We were not surprised to find that no user submitted a public response to the direct questions asked in the consultation - see https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-1/first-consultat....

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