/ 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
Rakesh Madhub says:
24 June 2016

Software for preparing accounts, Payroll, Tax by Sage.

I would like to know if they are allowed to use the number for technical support?

Technical Support – Accountants 0845 111 1111
Technical Support – Sage Instant and Sage 50 0845 111 5555
Technical Support – Sage One0845 111 66 11
Technical Support – Sage Pay0845 111 4455

Iris Software contact: Most on 0844 numbers, please see
http://www.iris.co.uk/support/contact-support/

Re – 0845 & 087 numbers, Travelodge currently charge 13p/min plus network charges.

Bernie Hobson says:
25 June 2016

Condor Ferries continue to use 0845 609 1024 not only for telephone bookings, but also for amendments and other service items.

Booking for a show at the NEC, Birmingham I tried to get a local number to avoid the hiked up call charge. Unfortunately the voicemail directed me to the 0844 number which I already had on the literature that clearly states a charge of 7p per minute (presumably plus VAT). When you have to listen to the blurb before making your choice of which button you need to press then you have music until someone is available to speak to you, they have made a tidy profit before the customer even starts to make their purchase.

Regretfully that seems to be a legitimate use of a premium rate call charge; the scandal is the enforced occupation of the line waiting for a functional response.

Ian says:
25 June 2016

7p per minute Service Charge …. plus an Access Charge of up to 12p per minute from landlines or up to 45p per minute from mobiles.

If the 0844 number is advertised for after-sales enquiries, that would be a breach of the regulations.

Sandra Baker says:
25 June 2016

Noticed Debenhams Plus are using 0871 984 1922 (13p per minute) and 0844 893 7992 (10p per minute) as contact numbers.

Recently I had to contact Talktalk as my landline (I am with Talktalk) was not working and I was charged a hefty sum for 0870 no. which I had to use.

Travel Lodge- had immense problems trying to pay online and wanted to call T L for assistance but its 0871 costing 13p per minute plus …
I refused, and found another T L about 600 miles away and asked if they could check their directory and give me the land line no not an 0871 no but they said they dont have such a directory. What a shame – its one way of losing business and frustrating a customer

I have just received a letter from my doctor to call and book an appointment at Southport &Formby District General Hospital and the number I have to call is an 0845 number.

Try substituting 0345. They probably haven’t updated their stationery [admin is not an NHS strongpoint].

Try looking on SayNoTo0870.com It has a huge library of 08xx numbers with their ‘real’ equivalents. Recently, I’ve spotted Premier Inns (uses a really expensive 0871 number) and Cheltenham Town Hall (uses 0844 for its bookings). I found ‘real’ numbers for both on SayNoTo0870.com

I’d like to know why the majority of hotel chains utilise premium rate numbers for UK based customers making reservations in the UK, when the same companies have toll-free numbers for most customers in other parts of the world!

Neville – it’s probably (a) because having invested in a booking system they want reservations to be made on-line, (b) because it takes staff away from other duties and costs more money to provide a telephone booking service all day, and (c) because their competitors all do it and it makes money for them. Basically large companies think that central call-centres should pay for themselves and not become a trading overhead. Perhaps elsewhere in the world the competition compels them to accept toll-free reservation calls. I also think the growth of hotel price comparison websites has something to do with it – they are creaming off a lot of reservations, taking a fee, and reducing hotel margins.

Wendy Shipperlee says:
25 June 2016

I have recently done business with Green Power Solutions, Chelmsford, Essex, and their Customer Service and main enquiry line is an 0845 no:

Emailflights.com use 08713365555 for customer services

ADT Home security continues to use chargeable numbers for its customer service. The number to call is 03448001999 but is charged to 0844800199. £6.59 for a 12 min 8 s call. Misleading!

Ian says:
27 June 2016

Calls are charged based on the digits you dial. This is a fundamental principal of the telephone system.

If you dial 0344, you pay your provIders rate for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers. It’s your choice whether that’s an inclusive monthly allowance for a fixed monthly fee, or a per-minute rate for each call.

If you dial 0844, you pay your phone provider’s per-minute rate Access Charge plus the Service Charge that applies to the number you called.

Les says:
26 June 2016

Eurotunnel LeShuttle
SNCF
Disneyland Paris

A mix of expensive 0844 and 0845 numbers. Disney claim their number costs “5p per minute from a BT landline”. Not true.

It cost over £50 in phone calls to amend various bookings – which gave us £50 less to spend on stuff once we got there…

Tammy says:
26 June 2016

Cath Kidston uses an expensive 0845 number for customer services.

No warning of call costs. Phone bill was a shock!

Tim K says:
26 June 2016

0845 number still in use by Aldiss, and they claim it is ‘local rate’ – but it cost a lot more than calling an 01 number.

Homebase Customer Services – 08456407264
Junk call from debt collection company – 08442844215

Sally says:
26 June 2016

Another “shower” that claim 0845 numbers are Local Rate… “Roman Showers” and “Roman At Home”.

Surely this must be illegal?

Dave says:
26 June 2016

First Bus York and Manchester
Stagecoach

084 numbers for all enquiries.

DL Jones says:
26 June 2016

Royal Caribbean Cruises are still using premium 0844 numbers including lines for “Pre Cruise Questions
(already booked guests)”.