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Costly calls aren’t right – why TSB has ditched 0845 numbers

Phone cartoon

TSB is supporting Which?’s Costly Calls campaign to move away from high-rate numbers for their customers. Here’s TSB’s CEO Paul Pester on why TSB has switched to local rate 0345 numbers.

You shouldn’t have to pay extra for customer service when calling banks or other companies. It’s not right and customers should be able to get in touch with companies how they want without being penalised.

We want to talk to our customers, and want them to feel able to get in touch with us whichever way suits them best. But calls can be expensive, and research tells us 82% of Brits avoid calling their service providers because of high call charges. We don’t want our customers to feel this way and we know readers at Which? care about this issue.

At TSB we believe in fairness and transparency and this is why we have replaced all of our 0845 numbers with 0345 local rate numbers. 0345 numbers are included in inclusive minutes for both landlines and mobiles – so you can contact TSB on a local rate number from anywhere in Britain.

Supporting Which?’s Costly Calls campaign

We originally set out our commitment to replace 0845 numbers with 0345 numbers in February this year, supporting Which?’s Costly Calls campaign. Since then, we have prepared our systems and processes for the switchover to ensure a smooth transition for customers.

TSB is Britain’s only national bank to make this change in full. However, I was pleased to see that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – our regulator – has since announced that they will consult the rest of the financial industry to make customer calls more affordable.

I believe this is right and I am proud to say TSB is leading the way.

Spread the word

Our research shows that 94% of people aren’t aware that 0345 numbers are included in inclusive landline and mobile minutes, while 35% of people haven’t even come across a 0345 number before. So as well as introducing 0345 numbers, we also need to help ensure people understand what they are so that they can realise the full benefits.

So next time you are sharing money-saving tips with friends and family, do also share the news that 0345 numbers are treated the same as local rate numbers – whether that’s on social media or through everyday conversation.

Truth and transparency is key

And finally – we made a commitment to let our customers know how we operate and make money when we launched Truth and Banking – and we won’t make a single penny from 0345 calls!

If you think all companies should be more transparent or should introduce 0345 numbers, please let them know!


Firsly, well done to TSB for making this move.

However, are you aware that if you google “TSB customer service phone number” there’s are dozens of sites listing expensive 0843 and 0872 numbers and they’re all different. Each one presumably owned by the website concerned and used to generate them money. To narrow down the search add 0843 to the search line.

Paresh says:
30 April 2014

This is grt news, however call may cost more depending on how long you would have to wait in queue. Would be even better if it was an 0800 no.

Hello, my name’s Caroyln Ferguson and I work with Paul. I’m the Telephony Director at TSB and I will help Paul answer some of the questions.

Paresh, thanks for your suggestion. 0345 numbers are included in inclusive minutes for both landlines and mobile phones, while 0800 numbers are not included in inclusive minutes for mobiles. We want to make sure everyone can call us on a local rate number from anywhere in Britain – not a high rate 0845 number. Thanks.

Paul – As far as I know there is no such thing as a ‘local rate number’ these days and using this term could be confusing,

The term local rate number should have been phased out in 2004. Some companies and phone providers should have been taken to task by ofcom if they still use them in advertising as the term is now misleading.

Hello. 0345 numbers are treated in the same way as 01 and 02 numbers – this is what we mean by a ‘local rate number’. Our research shows that most people don’t know what 0345 means though, so please help spread the word! Thanks.

Why 0345 numbers? They might be free at the moment but who knows what the future will hold for these numbers.

If companies want to be fair to their customers, then provide landline numbers as well as 0800 numbers.

First Direct provide a landline number which comes out of my monthly mobile allowance so I don’t have to worry about the cost.

Let’s face it, most of the time we contact customer services is because of a problem caused by the company …..and they expect us to pay for the privilege? (Sky comes to mind here)

@alfa – 03 numbers were introduced as non-geographic numbers priced at a geographic rate. That is their raison d’être, so their future is certain.

Hello alfa. We want to make sure customers can call us without getting penalised by high rate 0845 numbers. 0345 numbers are treated the same as 01 and 02 numbers, so they are included in inclusive minutes on both landlines and mobiles, while 0800 are not free on mobiles. Thanks.

@paul, You’re company seems to have changed most ( I’ve not checked all) 0845 numbers to 0345, however they’ve not adjusted any text pertaining to them so in the following example you list the new 0345 number (I’ve added the xxx’s) , yet the text about prefering not to use 0845 is still there. DOH

“To manage your money please call Telephone Banking on 0345 xxx xxxx.Our opening hours are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need to call us from abroad, or prefer not to use our 0845 number, you can also call Telephone Banking on 0203 xxx xxxx .”

You may also like to get your IT dept to look at the odd PDF document that still lists 0845 number. double DOH

I’ll post links to the page, pdf I’ve used in this post as a reply to prevent this one being delayed.

P.S. If you need to hire a new IT director I’m available 😉

“To manage your money please call Telephone Banking on 0345 xxx xxxx.Our opening hours are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need to call us from abroad, or prefer not to use our 0845 number, you can also call Telephone Banking on 0203 xxx xxxx .” was taken from


The pdf I mentioned is http://www.tsb.co.uk/media/tsb/pdfs/telephone_banking_user_guide.pdf


Hi William. Thanks for your message – I’ve passed on your comments to my team to look into. The link you’ve shared with us is now updated and we are looking at updating the PDFs shortly.

With regards to external (non-TSB) websites that list our telephone numbers via their own high-rate phone numbers, we are aware some websites that have no association with TSB do this. We can look into whether this can be changed but rest assured we do our best to ensure customers are provided with the correct number, including running Google ads that direct people to the right location. We want as many people as possible to know they can now call us on 0345 instead of 0845, so please spread the word. Thanks again for your feedback!

Thanks for the reply Carolyn,a couple of days of silence after my post I sent almost the same info to your facebook team, and they replied they’d pass the info on, so I’m guessing that’s how/when it got fixed.

Going by the sheer number of pdfs that are “wrong” compared to the number of web pages mentioning 0845 , the pdfs weren’t in the original scope.

Hi Carolyn, Can you confirm whether or not all the webpages have been amended to show 0345 number yet ( I know the pdfs are still wrong). It’s just I’ve found another 0845 and there;s no point raising it as an outstanding issue if the work has been “completed” it . Regards.

FYI most pages would now appear to be correct.

Thanks for getting back Carolyn. Here’s the offending webpage


The text in question being “From time to time we may offer Trustcard cardholders discounted rates for balance transfers, for more information contact us on 0845 xxx xxxx”

Not sure how the team is scoping the changes but they might wish to try entering “site:tsb.co.uk 0845” into a search engine. Bearing in mind that search engine results come from the search engines stored copy and so can be out of date so don’t be alarmed when it lists several pages as most of the pages are now correct.

With regard to the directory service websites, I’ve even tried contacting BT and BBC Watchdog but neither seem to be interested. And I’ve been having a long battle with ITV news over one webpage listing 0843 number for energy companies who now almost all use 0800 numbers, that fight has been going on almost 3 months. At least TSB have have been more pro-active so again thank you.

Hi William. Thanks for your support, it is much appreciated!

Regarding the 0845 number you’ve found, we sometimes use third-party suppliers and they may still have 0845 numbers – as in this case.

Since we first announced the intention to replace 0845 with 0345, we’ve been working hard with these suppliers to steadily change their numbers to 0345 too. While we can’t say for certain this will happen, we’ll certainly continue to do our best to persuade them to make the switch with us.

As for TSB, we’ve had to change our numbers in over 9,000 different areas. We have been doing this systematically, as fast as we can. As well as the website, we’ve had to think about ATMs and paper literature – the latter of which has an environmental impact. To minimise this impact, we have phased the updates of our literature (so you may still find the odd 0845 number here and there!), which is ONE of the reasons why we have the message on the old 0845 lines telling people about 0345.

Hi Carolyn, I guess I’m remembering the original TSB Trustcard from years ago. I’m also guessing that the updates to the PDFs will be driven from the updates to the paper literature which is why they’re still outstanding.

And thanks for the responses, its refreshing to have guest post where someone actually engages with the contributors.

FYI I can see find loads of PDFs listing 0845 numbers when doing a google search 🙁

Hi all! It’s been almost two weeks since we replaced our 0845 numbers with 0345 numbers. We’ve found that 56% of calls coming into TSB are now via 0345 numbers rather than 0845. We’d of course like this to be 100% in the future and will continue raising awareness of the change. If you’re a TSB customer or know someone who is, please let them know they can now call us by replacing 0845 with 0345! Thanks. Carolyn

Hi Carolyn , Are you actually asking the number they ring ? I’m a little curious as to how you’ll know if they called an 0843 number or not. As I don’t know which number they’ll route though to.

Hi William, thanks for your question. Our IT systems identify which TSB number our customers have dialled, whether it’s 0345 or 0845 – that’s how we know.

Hi, But can you tell whether that 0345 or 0845 has been routed though an 0843 number, that’s my point. I know you now only use 0345 but believe me there are people out there who won’t know and will believe whatever a search engines lists.

Google “TSB 0843” and you’ll see how many different 0843 numbers these websites are claiming are your customer service number. These sites will get listed without searching for 0843 I’ve just used that to show you the extent of the problem very easily.

Hi William. Our search results relating to our phone numbers do appear very high up on search engines and – as mentioned before – we do also have an ad at the top of Google Search to ensure people are directed to the TSB website. So even though it’s not always possible to know whether a call has been redirected or not, we are confident the overwhelming majority of people searching for TSB’s contact numbers are finding our website and therefore the official numbers.

I agree that not everyone knows about our switch to 0345 numbers yet – some people would have saved our 0845 numbers on their phones, for example. And that is exactly the point we are making – we would like people to spread the word. We also play a message on every single 0845 line to remind people that next time they can use 0345. Our aim is to get to 100% in the future – not 56%.

I understand your concerns and we know the redirecting tactics of some external websites is a challenge for all companies with contact centres. Rest assured I have raised this with my team, even though ultimately we don’t have any direct control over external websites.

Regarding the updates to the website, this should all be complete now, while the PDFs will be updated by mid May. If you can please us know the specific part of the website where you’ve seen an 0845 number, I’ll ask my team to look into it straight away. Thanks.

Carolyn – To get the message across, I suggest putting a notice at the top of the home page on the website.

It’s unrealistic to expect everybody who wants to contact the bank to look the number up on a website. For many people they will look at a previous statement or letter from the bank, look it up in a phone book, or have it in their calling list [whether in paper or digital form]. I think a 56% contact rate via 0345 is fairly good at this stage but it will take a long time before you reach 100% via 0345. My bank [Nationwide] is able to send personalised e-mails to their customers [quoting their home postcode as a security check] so perhaps a secure e-mail to every customer for whom the TSB has an e-mail address might spread the word.

Thanks for your suggestion. I’ll pass it onto our web team!

Hello John. You’re right that some people will have saved our number elsewhere, such as in a phone book or on their phone. That’s why every time someone calls one of our old 0845 lines, they’ll hear a message that says they can call us on 0345 the next time they ring. Slowly but surely, we will get to 100%! Thanks.

I have noticed that while quite a lot of companies are now offering standard rate replacements to 0845 numbers, many are still failing to adequately update their websites, downloads, stationary, or to even publicise the new numbers.

I hope this is just inertia and not yet another subtle corporate device to “mitigate” the costs of these customer friendly improvements

Mrs Smithson says:
11 September 2014

That’s actually incorrect there is a bank that offers 0345 number 24 / 7, 365 days a week and they are in the UK! always has and not only that you can actually call your own store direct. There’s not many if any that offer that – go to Metro Bank!

Hello Mrs Smithson – thanks for your comment. What we meant was that TSB is a national bank with a reach across Britain, that’s what we meant when we said “TSB is Britain’s only national bank to make this change in full”. Carolyn

John Jackson says:
7 October 2014

Nice 0345 are cheaper but if you have a simple question like us today, “How much to increase Travel Insurance from 45 to 75 days.” One gets through and has a long security message then all the computerised access to one’s account number one eventually speaks to delightful Jean in Sunderland who like the Branch, “Doesn’t know.” Jean transfers you to Fred after another session of security, computer access says I need some else and I object. Then it’s Cheryl in Ipswich who after the same delays, knows what I want and answers in 25secs. When I point out I’ve been on the phone for 30mins, she says her manager will ring me about the costs of this endless system but now an hour later nobody has rung. Chances for the new bank – not high!! Cost me 30mins but what was the cost to the company? Pity the delightful bank clerk wasn’t able to look it up himself.

John Jackson says:
7 October 2014

Got a call back from AXA complaints – apparently along the line I went out of the TSB loop to AXA but we were never told! Sorry, yes but ……

Thanks John, William and wavechange – these comments have now been removed.