/ 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


0345 900 0900. Marks and Spencer customer services !

An 0345 number is not a costly call, Linda. It costs the same as calls to an 01 or 02 number. M&S have phased out their costly numbers as far as I know.

Most of their listed contact numbers are 03333…… they are OK

One of the most disgusting use of 0845 numbers is the DWP. Calls for unpaid carers for Carers allowance are to 0845 6084321. In order to claim carers allowance you MUST be proven to be caring a minimum of 35 hours a week and the person they care for must be in receipt of the highest rates of disability benefits – which means that most carers have to give up their jobs to care for the person they work for and are reliant on income benefits including Income Support.

it is a seeming tax on those most vulnerable who already give so much to care for those who are unable to care for themselves.

Ian says:
10 July 2016

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

Calls to 03 numbers are inclusive from landlines and mobiles, else charged at ‘geographic rate’ – the same as calling an 01 or 02 number.

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

Mail Garden Shop : 0844 472 4160
Newark & Sherwood Homes: 0845 258 5550

Many insurance companies give an 0800 number for new business (to get you hooked) and then an 084/087 number for customer services or claims. Usually it goes to the same place whichever you ring, so always try the 0800 number first. Failing that, try SayNoTo0870.com – it’s very comprehensive and even includes the likes of Cheltenham Town Hall (uses 0844 for ticket bookings there and in the Pittville Pump Rooms) and Premier Inns (uses 0871 numbers for all its hotels).

Bus Traveline uses 0871 2002233. I suppose you’re paying for the time it takes someone to look up timetables, but you can usually do this online for yourself. SayNoTo0870.com lists ‘real’ numbers for quite a few regions, so you might be lucky…..

Ian says:
11 July 2016

FCA regulations effective 26 October 2015 require an 01, 02, 03 or 080 number for contact by existing customers. Check official websites for the current numbers.

If you are still seeing 084 or 087 numbers you may be looking at:
– a third-party website that hasn’t been updated (and may never be updated)
– old paperwork printed before the deadline
– paperwork that is current, but on which the company forgot to update the telephone number
– a company that has missed updating some pages of their own website
– a company that hasn’t changed their numbers and is completely ignoring the regulations.

You should NOT need to look on any third-party websites or on Google for contact details for any bank, card company or insurer. Indeed, in doing so, you could open yourself up to calling a number run by a scammer.

Dave says:
11 July 2016

Center Heating Controls part of the Wolsey Group

Ian Hart says:
11 July 2016

Unbelievable – you can contact BT billing on 0845 600 6156 or better still 0870 240 5566 if you want to pay by direct debit!

Julia Blincoe says:
11 July 2016

I had a van to insure for our small gardening co-op company, and an online van insurance company, I can’t remember who but one of the big ones who come up top of a www search, took over an hour to finally admit that they couldn’t produce a quote because I wanted the company to be the policyholder rather than a person —cost me over £10. I then thought a bit more and looked up van insurance brokers, found the Co-op and had no trouble getting a very acceptable quote on a free phoneline.

Cineworld is just dreadful do NOT call 0871 200 2000 to book your tickets, if you can, register online to get a 10% online booking discount but if you must call, use SAYNOTO0870 to find the number of your local cinema. Why pay 12p/minutes AND a 70p ‘processing fee’? What an insult!!

Ian says:
12 July 2016

Actually, it’s the 12p per minute Service Charge plus an Access Charge up to 12p per minute from landlines or up to 45p per minute from mobiles, plus the 70p booking fee.

Ebac give one contact number for everything including customer service on their website: 0845 634 1392

I have recently needed to contact Souths Staffs Water and the only number available was 084560704567 as the call lasted 26 minutes for an error of their making to be rectified it proved to be very expensive. On pointing out to them that 0845 numbers should no longer be used they said that they had no plans to change their number.

I am still seeing examples of companies using letterhead and documents showing out of date phone numbers. Today I received confirmation of a warranty from Miele. They had short-changed me by 2.5 years, which seems to be a known problem. The number shown for queries is an 0845 number, so I called the 01235 number shown with the address of the company. A recorded message said that this number is no longer in use and an 03 number was provided.

I am involved with a small charity, which has had to increase its subscription rates from 1 Jan 2017 because of rising postal charges. Any remaining leaflets will have a sticker attached and I have a box of labels waiting, and even someone prepared to do the job.

I might have some sympathy for someone struggling to run a one-person business, but surely large and medium size companies should be able to update websites, forms and letterhead so that customers’ time is not wasted and the company looks professional.

Dan J says:
31 July 2016

PictureHouse cinemas – still using premium rate numbers.

D. Mayhew says:
2 August 2016

Healthy Living Direct use this number for orders.
This number charged £1.13 +VAT for 5min 11seconds while my wife placed her order so it takes the edge of any “bargain” she might have received.
Not so healthy for my phone bill which generally includes most UK numbers in the inclusive charge

Sales 0871 220 3580
Calls cost 13p per minute plus your
telephone provider’s access charge

Cotton Traders : Order Line is an 0844 number. Special half price offer of £15 on women’s trainers in Daily Mail on 6/8/2016 but when went on website for company (as indicated in the Daily Mail ad), the shoes were full price. The alternative? Ring the costly 0844 number or don’t buy. I didn’t buy.

Kenneth Turner London

0844 567 1000

vera still says:
8 August 2016

The AA sent me a letter dated 14 July 2016. When I rang the Direct Line – 0845 603 6302 as on the letter a recorded message advised me to ring the cheaper number or be charged at the high rate but ,of course, by this time I had already been connected at the 0845 rate.

At least they have a message. Many companies connect you to their callcentre without any such announcement that a cheaper number is available.

Richard says:
8 August 2016

Halliwell Jones (BMW dealership) Warrington has an 0845 number as this centre has a Reservations Team and the other centres don’t. This number has been set up specifically for the Reservations Team at Warrington.

All 26 Mercure (Jupiter) Hotels are still being prefixed with 0844. Two years later and they are still flouting the law. This is an absolute disgrace and my email to the CEO went completely unanswered. These arrogant, greedy companies really should be made to pay for their blatant disregard. (Only half of their hotels are listed on SAYNOTO0870 and not the one I wanted!)

Please Which, name and shame them!!

Universal Extras charge prospective staff 2 pence per minute to phone them on 0845 0090 344. What a cheek! They also charge a fee to register with them for an extras film job! In my view, both charges are Unethical for as job seeker to pay!!!