/ Money

Are you still spotting costly 0845 numbers?

Tired man with phone

Customer service shouldn’t cost you a fortune, but some businesses are taking too long to phase out pricey numbers on their customer helplines. Have you spotted any culprits?

It’s two years since the Consumer Contracts Regulations came into effect. On 13 June 2014 companies were prohibited from using pricey phone numbers for customer lines – so why are we still seeing them advertised?

While plenty of companies have been receptive and made the appropriate changes, we continue to spot numbers starting 084 or 087 for customer service lines on posters and websites – calls to these business rate numbers can cost as much as 18p per minute from a landline, and 51p per minute from mobiles.

If you’re contacting a company’s customer service phone line because you have a complaint to make about the level of service you’ve received, or an issue with a product, then having to shell out more of your cash just to resolve an issue is nothing but rubbing salt into the wound.

Are companies aware of the changes?

Are companies doing enough to live up to the change in consumer regulations? It would seem that in some cases, businesses just don’t appear to be aware of the changes.

Just a few months ago a friend got in contact with me after reading our Which? conversation on travel firms flouting costly call rules. He explained how his phone charger had developed a dangerous fire-related fault, so he sought advice via the manufacturer’s Twitter account.

He was advised to ring a premium 0845 number, despite the Twitter page specifically stating that this method of contact was for customer support. After pressing for an alternative, he was only given the option to live chat on their website, or e-mail them instead.

Why so slow?

Going back to travel firms, I’ve frequently spotted premium numbers being displayed on trains on my commute to and from Which? headquarters. Not only are these numbers being listed for customer service, but also for reporting faults with toilets and even security camera systems.

When we pressed on these issues back in August last year, we were told that alternative numbers had been established and that posters would be updated ‘over the coming months’. But this was nearly a year ago – so are some firms taking this seriously enough?

So tell us, have you spotted any premium rate numbers for customer service and support?

Thank you for all of your comments, we’re working our way through the numbers you’ve reported to us. Please do keep them coming. Thank you

SteveJ says:
7 July 2017

To add insult to injury, there’s also a massive access charge to pay when calling these numbers. And why is the access charge for 084 and 087 numbers higher than for premium rate 09 and 118 numbers?

SteveJ says:
17 July 2017

That was a semi-rhetorical question … but is there an explanation for the higher access charge on 084 and 087 numbers compared to 09 and 118 numbers?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Ian says:
7 August 2017

Ofcom regulations require the Access Charge to be the same for all 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers. This has been the case since 1 July 2015. There should be no variation of Access Charge within any particular tariff. The only variation will be between different call plans and between different providers.

SteveJ says:
7 August 2017

The table of call charges at http://www.which.co.uk/money/money-saving-tips/saving-money/guides/cheap-alternatives-to-0870-and-0845-calls/how-much-will-you-pay-for-premium-rate-calls shows up to 55p for 084 and 087 numbers but only up to 45p for 09 numbers. Are you saying that is incorrect? Likewise for a number of other differences between those entries.

Ofcom’s has made a number of reforms to call charges over the last few years.

One such change means that, per-tariff, there is one rate covering calls to UK geographic numbers starting 01 and 02 and non-geographic numbers starting 03. If you see a price chart that shows inconsistent figures for some of those ranges, then the table is incorrect.

Likewise for the simplification of call charges to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers. The regulations state that, per-tariff, the same Access Charge must apply across all of those number ranges. If you see a price chart that shows inconsistent figures for some of those ranges, then the table is incorrect.

This does not preclude the fact that some landline providers continue to offer inclusive calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers.

There are a large number of websites offering tables showing call charge details for various UK number ranges. The vast majority of those tables have numerous errors and many of them are years out of date. Most are also unresponsive to correcting errors.

Most of those charts also fail badly at explaining the role of inclusive call packages. This is now the normal way to pay for calls to ordinary landline and mobile numbers.

All companies will use dodgy methods to take your money if they believe they can get away with it Also some people do not care how much money they are throwing away at all Fool they are Fools and their money are easily parted

C J Lawrence says:
29 June 2018

Lowri Beck Services (acting for Green Network Energy) left a Voicemail on my mobile requesting I ring their 0845 702 3461 number as their Meter Reader called while we were out.

If you look up the number, you will see they appear to be genuine:

However, it is not free to call an 0845 number so I would be tempted to wait until they call you.

Why are elderly pendant call centres using 0845 number when the wearer presses their pendant for help?
A hidden expense that they are not aware of when they buy.

I have had a look at various products and could not find information about call charges, which is not good.

From Ofcom: “The cost of calling 0843, 0844 and 0845 numbers is made up of two parts: an access charge going to your phone company, and a service charge set by the organisation you are calling. The service charge for calls to 084 numbers is between 0p and 7p per minute.” The access charge will depend on your phone contract and can often be free. The company providing the emergency pendant etc should state their service charge.

(Calling 0845 numbers from mobile phones is generally considerably more expensive.)

One of these 0845 numbers just tried to scam me recently, I received a few “silent calls” just to ring them back, I knew immediately why they called once I’ve seen the prefix, can these numbers not be regulated? Quite a few of these incidents are actually being reported ( https://scam-numbers.co.uk/special-numbers/0845/ ) , I’m surprised by this grey area scam model, I think there should be at least a voice at the beginning of the call saying “this call will cost you £3.5/minute”, or something like that.

I received a delivery from Wilkinson Sword this morning. The enclosed advice note has their Customer Services number shown as 0845 894 1599. Fortunately there is an email address so it will be easy to ask for the number to be changed.

I wrote to EP Barrus, the current owner of Wilkinson Sword tools, and was asked to send a photo of the advice note. I did this and have received an email this morning to say that the number will be updated.