/ 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

Film Fan says:
26 June 2016

Cineworld use 0871 numbers. You pay both a booking fee and a service charge.

Anna says:
26 June 2016

0871 number for Alton Towers and most other Merlin Entertainment locations.

“Calls to this number cost 13p per minute plus your providers access charge. Due to OFCOM phone charge changes, in most cases it is cheaper to phone via a landline compared to a mobile phone. Please check your providers access charge before calling.”

Ian says:
27 June 2016

All phone calls cost more from a mobile than from a landline, but that’s not the issue. Their text looks like it is trying to be helpful, but it is trying to distract you from the reality.

The real issue is that calls to 084 and 087 numbers include an additional Service Charge paid to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider. This means these calls always cost more than calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers – and this is the case on landlines AND on mobiles.

Nigel W says:
26 June 2016

The O2 ask you to call an 0844 number if your tickets don’t arrive in time. Answers as “AXS”.

Keith says:
26 June 2016

EE. — 0845 412 5000

0844 numbers are just as expensive as 0845, 2:28 minutes cost £1.24, 6:37 minutes cost £2.95,
6:00 minutes cost £2:55. What about access charges and service charges

Ian says:
27 June 2016

Yes. Ofcom’s reforms clarified that all 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers are premium rate.

The confusion around 0845 numbers has been removed. Previously these were cheap to call from a BT landline and expensive from everywhere else. Now they are treated the same as other 084 numbers on all landline and mobile networks.

The numbers that are cheap to call from landlines and mobiles are those starting 030, 033, 034 and 037. The range of 034 and 037 numbers are replacements for expensive 084 and 087 numbers.

Various regulations and guidance require or suggest that 01, 02, 03 and 080 numbers should be used and ban the use of 084, 087 and 09 numbers.

As of today, 27 June 2016, Sainsbury’s Bank still give out the number 08701 542 543 ‘If you have a problem’. Well yes I do have a problem actually. 087 numbers were supposed to have stopped a couple of years since.

Could this also be one of the reasons Sainsbury’s Customer Service is so difficult to get any satisfaction from? I may as well be trying to connect with an old number, to aliens, for what use their Customer Service is!

J Ryan says:
27 June 2016

HSL Compliance (http://hertelsolutions.com/contact-us/) are still using 0845 604 6729

Sue Law says:
27 June 2016

Noticed on reverse of RAC Membership card, if found, “call 0845 0942319”

Ian says:
28 June 2016

Was the card issued before or after 13 June 2014 or 26 October 2015?

Cineworld are still insisting that you call 0871-200-2000 to speak to customer services even though I’ve complained on numerous occasions that this practice has been illegal for a considerable amount of time, they just ignore me. Use 0330-333-4444 until they change it again!!

Unless there’s action by OFCOM to fine all companies that flout this law, they will continue to use money-making numbers to stitch us up with.

Use SayNoTo0870 every time!!!

Ian says:
28 June 2016

The regulations on customer service helplines for retailers, traders and passenger transport companies came from BIS, not Ofcom.

Breaches of the regulations can be reported to the Citizen’s Advice national Consumer Helpline on 0345 404 0506.

Jeanne Felmingham says:
28 June 2016

Lee Longlands, furniture shops in Abingdon and Birmingham give 2 numbers 0845 373 0227 and 0845 373 0241 to speak to customer service. Particularly annoying when I am speaking to them about a faulty carpet they have just fitted.

chrissi says:
28 June 2016

First group in general. I have numerous times complained to them via facebook email and in writing but been ignored.

John Starbuck says:
28 June 2016

I cannot see where/how to report such numbers to Which? – please make it easier for people to do so.

Hi John, right here in your comments is fine. We are collating them and will contact companies who are breaching the rules. Thank you very much 🙂

mike bayliss says:
28 June 2016

AIG Travel EMEA Ltd, for travel insurance, are still using an 0845 number, although when answered they do give you an 0345 to phone.
but when you receive email/post their paperwork still shows the 0845 number.
one assumes those first few seconds on the phone incurr a cost.


Somewhat surprised & aghast at this one:
Tena : 0845 741 3643

Ooops! I forgot to mention the purpose/department for the Tena number. I have also explored the site & found more information so I will start again:
TENA: Questions & Enquiries 0845 741 3643 – Interestingly, this is the number FOR NHS CLIENTS, whilst PRIVATE CLIENTS get a FREE number 0800393431 for Help & Support, hmmm!
TENA: Advice Line (for consumers only) 0845 308 0803

I see no reason why an advice line should not have a premium rate number as that is the only way it can recover the cost of providing an advice service over the telephone. In my view the telecom company’s Access Charge should be minimal in such cases.

Advice should be free if companies want people to buy their products…

South Staffs Water still use the 0845 number (0845 60 70 456)

Richard Boulton says:
29 June 2016

Monarch currency card customer service and card activation line.

Recently purchased a pre-paid world card from Monarch and literature sent with card in the post gave this number as a customer service/card activation line. Charged 81.1p for 2 minute 31 second automated call.

Number: 08453510072

Richard says:
29 June 2016


0871 200 2000

Mon – Sun 10:00 – 22:00

Calls to this number cost 12 pence per minute plus your phone company’s access charge (They also charge 70p per person booking/ processing fee applies)