/ Technology

Are all companies abiding by new costly call rules?

Red phone

Today the new Consumer Contracts Regulations come into effect. This includes a new law that prohibits most companies from using pricey phone numbers for customer lines. But is everyone sticking to the rules?

When I’m not at home, there are few things that annoy me more than being charged as much as 41p a minute to call an 0845 number from my mobile phone, simply to complain to a company about something I’d bought – and then to be put on hold for 20 minutes.

Back in 2013, we launched a campaign to put an end to companies charging customers excessively for calling customer services. Loads of you told us that you were fed up with receiving shockingly high phone bills because you’d been charged a small fortune for calling an 084 or 087 number.

Thanks to the 89,000 people who supported the campaign, last December the Government announced how it would implement a new law – the Consumer Rights Directive – that would ban companies from using numbers that charged more than the basic rate for their customer service or complaints lines. Today is a day we should recognise, because today that law comes into force as part of the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

So what’s changed?

Since we started our campaign against expensive phone numbers, plenty of companies have listened. We lobbied hard for travel companies to be included under the new legislation, and even before the Government had responded, Jet2 had changed from using a pricey 09 number to a mixture of 0800 and 03 numbers.

Most companies now aren’t allowed to use 084 or 087 numbers like they were before, and lots have already changed to comply with the new law. But there could be some firms who haven’t yet. If you’ve spotted any, please let us know below.

Are all companies going to stop using 0845 numbers?

It’s worth pointing out that this new legislation doesn’t cover public bodies or financial services. Although the financial regulator is planning to bring those firms into line thanks to our campaign, many banks have already set a good example. Barclays (and Barclaycard), RBS, TSB and now First Direct have all announced that they’re dropping 0845 numbers. Most Government departments have also switched to cheaper 03 numbers.

There’s no doubt that your support for our Costly Calls campaign has helped bring about significant change, and although today is a landmark day, there’s probably quite a few companies still using 084 numbers when they shouldn’t be.

So if you spot a company that’s still using an 084 or 087 number when you don’t think they should be, name check them in the comments below. If they’re not complying with the new law, we’ll let them know about it.

Comments

If you doing business with a company, I think you have the right to know who you are dealing with and where they are.

So WHY are companies not forced to give out their geographical telephone number? They all have one.

An honest company should not have to hide behind 08 or 03 anything. Then we would all know where we stand with regards to phone costs.

08, 09 or 03 who can remember what all these numbers are for and how much they cost?

Ian says:
13 June 2014

Calls to 03 numbers cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers and count towards inclusive allowances on landlines and mobiles.

That’s the whole point of 03 numbers.

You are sure? ITV have this disclaimer under their 03 number

“Calls cost the same as a call to a standard UK landline. Calls from other networks may be higher, and from mobiles will be considerably more.”

Seems like their not the same as calling 01 or 02. Although I could well believe ITV are wrong, it won’t be the 1st time.

Ian says:
13 June 2014

Thanks, that’s good to know. I tried looking on the BT website for charging info and gave up

Too true

Shame that not all the operatives at First Direct know about this.

And why do the government keep bringing out half ar$ed legislation, do we not need a government that would have included public bodies and banks to start with.

Ian says:
13 June 2014

The legislation coming into force today was published by BIS in December 2013 was only ever designed to apply to retailers and passenger transport companies.

Financial services are regulated by the FCA, not by BIS. The FCA could have brought out regulation for banks and insurance companies, but appears to be dragging its feet.

That’s why I called it half ar$ed.

So would I be right in thinking that its too much to hope that one public body talk to another and show a grown approach to law making? Rather then present the UK population with a piecemeal approach ?

And I’d be surprised if any of these organisations didn’t drag their feet.

H Samuel still listing an 0845 number on its Contact Us page.

And does this legislation work if I’ve just got a query about something rather than a complaint? From the wording I’ve read online I’m getting worried that it only covers complaints.

It’s customer service and complaint lines. Not sales for new customers (though these are often free anyway!)

H Samuel have now updated all their webpages.

I have yet to submit an order to test to see whether their order confirmation and acknowledgement of posting emails are correct too. They should be paying me to report these things not me paying them!!

Numbers for contacting Tesco mobile and Tesco Phone shop both 084 numbers

I’ll stop looking now

Ian says:
13 June 2014

The equivalent 0344 and 0345 numbers are working.

Looks like someone forgot to update the web page.

Then that someone(s) should be given his/her P45. Companies that size should have procedures in place to scope the work required. So I’d blame the IT director.

Its amazing how poor some of these overpaid IT directors are.

Ian says:
13 June 2014

Tesco have updated more than 3000 different telephone numbers, with many of them quoted in multiple locations across their various websites. It would be remarkable if none had been missed.

Get a reality check.

I have experience of things like this. Believe when I say it’s very easy to get things right although not as easy as getting them wrong.

I used to love pointing out things like this to directors. Who would think nothing of re-branding the products in the vain hope that new customers wouldn’t notice it was the same stuff as already had a bad reputation. On more than one occasion it was me that would stop a delivery going out, and that was not my area. The guy that labelled up the discs with the old product name would then raise it same directors that would have ignored me.

So no reality check needed, just a bit of professionalism. 🙂

Don’t worry I picked up TSB when they didn’t do a proper job of changing their numbers last month and I don’t even have access to their code. And yet I still find areas they’d missed.

And what 4 figure fines or length of jail term for directors will be levied on companies caught still using 084 numbers?

Let us keep up the pressure. I exchanged several emails with someone at Maplin several months and phoned them on an 01 number to discuss the issue. I see that they have replaced an 084 number with an 03 number.

I will send them my thanks for their consideration. 🙂

I received an automated email when I sent an email to Maplin to thanking them for getting rid of their 084 Customer Services number. It contained the following text:

“Dear Customer,

Thank you for your email correspondence.

We aim to respond to all emails within 72 hours. However, in the vast majority of cases customers will receive a reply well within this time frame.

Should you require a more urgent response, or need to speak to one of our Advisors, then please call Customer Care on 0844 557 6000 ”
etc etc

There are times I want to give up the struggle. 🙁

IT Directors really are poor these days.

Halifax Insurance still gives an 0845 number for renewals (i.e. for existing customers to use).

Ian says:
13 June 2014

See previous comments about financial services.

Brian Joseph Cox says:
14 June 2014

House of Bath (homewares) are still showing an 0871 number.

The new rules are the result of Article 21 of Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Rights which applies throughout the European Union and wider European Economic Area. Although the directive excludes passenger transport services, the UK decided, thanks partly to Which, to omit this exclusion when enacting the legislation in the UK under Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013. Consequently airlines are covered in the UK, but not in all other EU and EEA countries. I’ve had a look at some airlines’ telephone numbers:

British Airways
British Airways’ telephone numbers are still surcharged 0844 numbers in breach of Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013.

Ryanair
Ryanair’s contact numbers comply only by the bare minimum. It now publishes a surcharged number for “new bookings” and a basic rate number for “post booking queries” for some countries, e.g. the UK, Austria, France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Finland. One could assume that all these countries, like the UK, wisely chose to omit the exclusion for passenger transport services in their national legislation. For other countries, e.g. Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Poland, it publishes a single number for “new bookings and general queries“, so one could assume that these countries preserved the exclusion for passenger transport services in their national legislation.

Easyjet
Easyjet’s telephone numbers are basic rate for the UK but surcharged in every other country, including in those where Ryanair provides a basic rate number. If one selects “Rest of World“, the basic rate UK number is given.

Wizz
Wizz’s telephone numbers are all still premium rate, including in the UK in breach of Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013.

Morrisons still got 0845 for customer services.

Mike says:
14 June 2014

Thomas Cook are still listing their branch Numbers as 0844?
Are they covered by the new Legislation?

@Mike, I believe that’s one area that we have in our legislation that many other European countries don’t have.

I appreciate that 0845 numbers used to be described as local call rate, but (since 2004?) they are among the “non-geographic” phone numbers in common use. Anyone using a mobile phone or phone box will appreciate that calling 0845 numbers is not cheap. I recall that ASA has upheld complaints about describing non-geographic numbers as “local call rate”.

I have been in three separate discussions about this in the past week and would appreciate if someone would point me to an authoritative source, since the term “local call rate” is still in common use.

Not only would I like to be sure of my facts but I think it would help anyone supporting the change to present a reasoned argument.

You’re quite they stopped being classified as geographic or local rate years ago.

Wikipedia has some useful info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-geographic_telephone_numbers_in_the_United_Kingdom

But I guess the best place to get authoritative info from is :
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/telecoms/policy/non-geo-call-services/

Thanks William. I think it was you that told me in the first place. I have bookmarked the Ofcom link for future reference.

Keep up the good work. 🙂

Ian says:
15 June 2014

A distinct “local rate” ceased to exist in 2004.

After a year of continuing usage of this description, CAP issued this statement:

http://tinyurl.com/asa0845cap

Thanks Ian. Much appreciated, and another useful bookmark.

Someone even had the cheek to try and correct me on Which’s Friday facebook question, 2 days ago.

Something needs to be done if so many people are still unaware that things changed as far back as 2004

I’ve only checked a few companies that I use, but have found the following:

Just-Eat – They still have a 0844, i tweeted them but was blanked.

Yorkshire Water still have a 0845, tweeted them just now & they are changing it today: https://twitter.com/YWHelp/status/478472422229032960

Ideal World have a 09 order line, while that not covered due to a order line being classed as “sales” they also have a 0871 number for customer service.

Gems TV. They have a 0845 for sales, but also customer service. They are planning to move to 0800. But as of today they have a 0845. Plus to make it even worse I was watching Peter Simon on Gems TV the other night and he said “0845 numbers are free at this time on night anyway”. No matter how much I like Peter Simon and find him very funny, he should not be saying that!

Ian says:
16 June 2014

0800 and 0808 numbers do not comply because they are not yet free from mobile phones.

Users of 080 numbers need to add an 03 number in parallel until June 2015.

Not sure why that was a reply to my comment Ian? I didn’t post anything about 0800/0808 numbers? (Sorry if I’m missing the point here)

Ian says:
16 June 2014

You said… “They are planning to move to 0800.” 🙂

Sorry Ian, it’s been a long day. I meant to say 0800 and 03 lol

Just had my SSE bill with a 0800 number, i phoned up and asked why the 03 was not on the bill too and they said the 0800 was fine, the 03 is not needed. I will follow this up with a tweet & e-mail too.

FYI 0800 numbers should become free to call from landlines AND all mobiles from 26 June 2015.

Ian says:
17 June 2014

They will, but until that time users of 080 numbers need to run an 03 number in parallel. This enables mobile users have a much cheaper or, in very many cases, inclusive call.

Nationwide were ill-advised to move entirely to 080 numbers from 0845. The change didn’t help mobile users at all, and massively increased costs incurred by Nationwide.

National Trust is a big user of 0844 and 0870 numbers for membership inquiries (= customer services), for volunteering inquiries and for holiday rentals. Often you will need to ring NT when you are not at home and relying on a mobile. Anyway, more than 10% of households don’t have a land line. NT may be a charity but these number are ruinously expensive 40p/min from a mobile.

A self harm charity was asking people to call a 0844 phone number a few weeks ago on Twitter (and even saying it local rate and you don’t pay to call it). I have to admit I did lose my temper and really had ago at them.

I run a self-harm charity myself and would never even dream of asking people to call 0844 (or my own 0871 come to that) It made me so angry.

I agree Lee. I cannot see any advice about this in the recommendations given on the Charity Commission website.

What I have discovered is that the CC phone number is 0845 300 0218 and it would be good if that was changed.

The Royal Fail are still advertising 0845 numbers on their website, although finding any phone number on there is almost impossible.

Shame these new regulations don’t enforce making phone numbers easier to find.

That is another good point, Lee. Some companies and organisations make it almost impossible to find their phone number, presumably because they are not keen to receive phone calls.

I will send an email or make a phone call but I’m not going to tweet, use their Facebook page, live chat or anything else. I appreciate that there are differing views on this. 🙂

I did go back and manage to find some phone numbers and they’re all 0345 numbers

So I guess my cheat (“Site:royalmail.com 0845”) to look for phone number found an old page.

And you think 08 numbers are a bit naughty? Today, 19th June, I received an advertisement from Wizz Air in my email. I am invited to contact them on 0907 292 0102 and they cheerily add (so I cannot say I have not been informed) that my call will cost £0.92p per minute plus network extras.

Heaven only knows what it would cost to call them on my mobile.

Do I get a prize for rip-off of the week?

If there weren’t already a perfectly respectable airline named Swissair it would be tempting to conjure up a nickname for Wizz Air. Unfortunately, budget airlines have to make up on the swings what they lose on the roundabouts – it the only thing that keeps them aloft.

From the Ryanair website.

“Our customer service number for complaints regarding our Premium Rate number is as follows 0844 2098715”

Someone is taking the Michael. 🙂

Taking the Michael O’Leary? 😛

None other. I hoped that would be obvious. Maybe we should write and thank Ryanair when they get round to switch their number.

British Ariways only seem to have 0844 numbers on their website

They seem to think its ok that the only need to offer an alternative number for complaints. Already this new law seems to have been badly worded.

One thing I’ve not noticed with this new legislation is what penalties will be meted out to those companies failing to comply with them. The Government is quick to wave the austerity flag, yet they continually miss the opportunity to raise some very quick easy money from business and their over paid directors.

This should have been a simple piece of legislation to implement, companies failing to comply by the 13th June 2014 should have been fined 10% of turnover and directors 50% of bonuses. Just from my initial checking there are many examples of companies who have missed the deadline, presumably because there is nothing severe waiting from them if they do.other than a softly softly don’t forget to change your phone numbers.