/ 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

Comments

Another issue with using 084 numbers which came in effect 1st Jun 2015. Not sure when the FCAs rules kicked in, but it would be sometime after that. Is that use of 0845 etc numbers should now show access and service charge. And even though it was announced years ago, when you report companies to the ASA, yes that is the organisation to report companies quoting 084 numbers w/o their access or service charges. The ASA will then write to them giving them a further 3 weeks to change. I’ve reported so many companies in the last year I’ve lost count and I’ve given up. If I thought they get punished from day 1 I might still report them. Dept of work and pensions still quotes 0845 numbers w/o access and service charges on letters. My local council still use 0845 w/o quoting a and c charges.

Ian says:
16 June 2016

Pricing details for 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers are required since 1 July 2015.

The FCA regulations covering financial services came into force on 26 October 2015.

If you call any of the old DWP 0845 numbers you hear ‘You have dialled a number starting 08. Please hang up and re-dial replacing 08 with 03. You have not been charged for this call’.

Richard says:
17 June 2016

South Staffs Water still use 0856070456

Xl swimming pools of Pluckley Kent use 0845 numbers

Travel Bag are still using 0871 402 1644 for their customers. Don’t understand how these companies can still get away with flouting the rules

Mary, The problems are many. A few being, there is no one to actively police the rules, the regulators rely on you . me et al to report companies breaching them. Secondly, there was threat of large fines back dated to the start of the rules, in fact there was no threat of fines at all. So companies can keep using them until someone complains about them they then get 3 weeks to address the problem, so companies have no incentive to follow the rules until their forced too.

Royal Mail Business Accounts support lines only use 0845 numbers AND they are only inbound and so won’t ring you back. What about the DVLA though, they use 09 numbers for some service enquiries, such as when i had a problem obtaining a Vehicle Access Code so that the people providing me with a loan car could check my licence online at the DVLA, the only number you could contact them on was a 09 number! around £1.50 or more per minute! Luckily for me the car loan company found a way of circumventing it. It should not be allowed for anything other than competition lines.

Ian says:
17 June 2016

Some DVLA services are chargeable. Rather than ask callers for their bank card details at the start of the call, or sending out a bill after the event, all of which would add further administrative costs, the charge is levied by using a premium number with a per-minute rate Service Charge.

IMHO the reason that all sort of companies get away with flouting great swathes of regulations (i.e simply ignoring the law) is that MPs believe that once the legislation has been passed into law, that is the end of the matter. It never seems to occur to them that laws that are not enforced aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Not to mention the huge waste of taxpayers’ money involved in getting them on to the statute book.

Ian says:
17 June 2016

Following Cabinet Office guidance published on 26 December 2013, DWP changed their premium rate 0845 numbers over to the matching 0345 numbers on 17 March 2014.

If you call any of the old DWP 0845 numbers you hear ‘You have dialled a number starting 08. Please hang up and re-dial replacing 08 with 03. You have not been charged for this call’.

Meyrick Wyard says:
16 June 2016

Santander bank customer service telephone number on the back of the debit card is still a 0845 number. none of my other cards use 0845.

Ian says:
17 June 2016

Have you had a new card issued since the rules changed on 26 October 2015?

Debenhams send the incorrect item (a bra instead of a dress for £38) and take far too long to refund or react to their own error. The only way to contact them is via 7p per minute 084 number.
Avoid purchasing online from Debenhams….

brian says:
16 June 2016

Beware of TP-Link (routers and IT gear) – they use an 0845 number for customer service. They apparently do not care about the regulations, just how much money they can make out of you.

So avoid buying router, WiFi or other IT product form company. They also keep you waiting on the line for ages, to then find out they are know absolutely nothing about their products.

Still showing 0845 on their website , so no accident.

Judging by the quality and reliability of their product , think they are designed to maximise call to their complaints line! Probably very clever move to get more money out of us all.

So much for the law!

Toby Carvery Whitewebbs House, Enfield, Middlesex used to have a geographic number but recently switched to an 0844. I spoke to the manager but he appeared to not know about using high charge phone numbers and said they are often too busy to answer the phone which is why a central exchange was used. He gave me their geographic number.

Ian says:
19 June 2016

Non-geographic 03 numbers offer the same call routing and call handling features as 08 and 09 numbers, but without the caller having to pay an additional Service Charge.

There’s no excuse for using an 084 or 087 number when 03 numbers have been readily available since 2007. Their telecoms company may not have fully explained the options.

Some banks still on that,supermarket credit cards,some retailers.

JBM
and 087 numbers

The form Names.co onto him Vodaphone pushed the e-mail accounts previously included in the Demon’s internet package still only offer an 0345 contact number and the firm VentfilterRu still only offer an 0844 number.

Gerry says:
17 June 2016

0345 is charged at basic rate (same as 01/02), so no problem there.

anna says:
16 June 2016

UK Power Network and The Powerline Advisory Group are two companies still using 0845 number.

Saga Platinum Card service number is 08456035468

Gerry says:
16 June 2016

The new Ts & Cs sent about ten days ago with my replacement Bank of Scotland credit card quote only 0845 Service Charge numbers, and state that I must immediately call an 0845 number in the event of loss or theft. I complained by landline and was repeatedly told that listening to the 0845 message was free: I proved it wasn’t by getting calling it using my PAYG mobile on loudspeaker, getting a balance before and after. A 29-second call via Three was correctly charged a total of 46p, but despite this proof, BoS still claim that calls to 0845 are free ! Their response letter to my complaint includes the following contradictory nonsense (my emphases):–

“Our review of this situation has shown NO MISTAKE WAS MADE WITH THE CURRENT USE OF 0845 NUMBERS however, we apologise for the upset this matter has caused you.

“THE BANK HAS MADE A DECISION TO KEEP THE 0845 NUMBERS ACTIVE at this time, in order to allow customers to familiarise themselves with the alternative numbers we use. Should an 0845 number be contacted, there is a recorded message advising the alternative number the customer may call AND THERE IS NO CHARGE FOR LISTENING TO THE MESSAGE. This allows the customer the opportunity to hang up and call the alternative number or make the decision to continue with the current call.

“Unfortunately, as the bank has made this policy decision in relation to the use of 0845 telephone numbers at this time, I am unable to provide any further details of the current use of these numbers and if and when these numbers may be deactivated.”

The Halifax (another division of HBOS) is just as bad, their branches displaying a huge 0845 Customer Service number on their branch windows with no warning of the Service Charge and Access Charge.

It is scandalous that it’s become industry standard practice to keep banned 084/087 numbers operational as a parallel service. By the time the caller has heard a message giving the new number the damage has been done, they have been ripped off at up to 58p/minute and the offending company has illegally pocketed the Service Charge. HBOS and all other users of 084/087 customer services numbers should be mandated to cease these numbers immediately and to get their telecomms provider to provide a Changed Number Announcement at no charge to the caller. Can we have a ‘Which?’ campaign to this effect? It will take many years for all fixed signage to be changed (Southeastern Railway hasn’t even started) so use of CNAs is the only way to prevent these continuing rip-offs.

Robert says:
17 June 2016

I like yourself am a BOS customer and have made the same complaint to them on at least 3 occasions, they unfortunately are not interested in customer comments or complaints, the only way to get companies to pay attention is to affect their profit, what is required is a petition signed by all their customers, but unfortunately you need their customer list for that to be effective, and that just won’t happen

Gerry says:
17 June 2016

But they gave me £75 compensation plus the cost of the 0845 call ! It pays to complain…
🙂
Needless to say, I’m still complaining to the FCA and / or the Ombudsman.

Gerry says:
16 June 2016

Why does ‘Which?’ refer only to 0845 numbers?

Calling 087 numbers can be even more expensive at up to 58p/minute (e.g. Service Charge SC014 at 13p/minute plus Three’s Access Charge at 45p/minute).

You’re right – please let us know of 087 numbers too!

J Huff says:
16 June 2016

Hastings car insurance have an 0844 number to call in the event of a breakdown. No idea how much that costs from a mobile!

Ian says:
17 June 2016

Access Charge up to 45p per minute PLUS Service Charge up to 7p per minute.

I count myself privileged that BT is my landline provider and 0845 and 0870 calls are free, and with wifi available I can use my mobile to connect for free on my landline account, so I’m not really too concerned about 0845 numbers. However I refuse to deal with companies that use other premium rate lines and some that come to mind are House of Bath (0871) Telegraph Shop (0844) and Reader Offers (0843).

Ian says:
17 June 2016

Even though you pay nothing for calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers, the called party still earns money from the up to 7p (084) or up to 13p (087) per minute Service Charge. Have you ever given thought to where that money comes from?

Gerry says:
16 June 2016

The NHS refuses to ban 084/087 numbers. The Mid-Yorkshire hospitals still use 0844 numbers at 52p/min, even the Service Charge being 40% more than the NHS website wrongly claims: http://www.nhs.uk/Services/Trusts/Overview/DefaultView.aspx?id=1910

Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland all use 0845 for Customer Enquiries and 0844 871 5408 for BoS Card Care at 52p/min: http://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/our-group/contact-us/

Heathrow Airport uses 0844 at 52p/min: http://www.heathrow.com/more/contact-us

National Rail’s Train Tracker uses 0871 at 57p/min: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/46608.aspx

Ian says:
17 June 2016

The Department of Health HAS banned the NHS from using 084, 087 and 09 numbers.

The ban on 087 and 09 numbers came into effect in 2005. The ban was extended to cover 084 numbers in December 2009 for NHS bodies, and April 2010 for GP practices.

There is a company called “Breakeryard” who don’t give any land line numbers, you can only contact them by using an 07013 number and they admit that it is 50p per minute.

Ian says:
17 June 2016

That might be the cost from a BT landline but it could be a lot more from other providers. Anything up to £2.50 per minute from mobiles.