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Companies ring the changes, but not all of them are in tune

Costly calls campaign image

It’s seven weeks since the new law banning companies from using pricey phone numbers came into force. By and large it shouldn’t cost more than the basic rate to call customer services, but not all firms got the message.

The good news is that lots of companies have made the effort to change their numbers, from Sky to the Student Loans Company. Both have switched 084 and 087 numbers for an 03 alternative.

This will please our Costly Calls campaign supporter Eleanor, who told us earlier in the year:

‘It’s disgusting that it’s an 0845 number to call Student Finance England. Students are a group of people who can least afford to be wasting money on phone bills, especially when the #1 reason for calling SFE is that they’ve messed your application up and you have’t got any money…’

Lloyd was similarly outraged:

‘Student Finance England; I called from my mobile as it was an emergency and was on the phone for roughly an hour (lots of the time spent on hold) and it cost me over £20!’

Thanks to supporters like Eleanor and Lloyd, you can now contact Student Finance England on 0300 100 0607.

Costly to call customer care

I’ve actually just got back from a two week holiday, where everything went well – except the airline I was flying with lost my bag. You can imagine my further frustration when I discovered that their website lists an 0843 number for ‘customer care’. Needless to say, I emailed them.

From your comments, I wasn’t alone in my findings. Lots of you have discovered companies still using pricey numbers, and some of you challenged them directly. H Samuel, Yorkshire Water and Morrisons are just some of the firms you told us about and who have  now switched from 0845 numbers to an 03 alternative. Here’s how Yokshire Water responded to Newt Beaumont’s challenge:

For all those still dragging their heels on switching their numbers, I can’t help but feel it reflects how they value customers.

They had plenty of notice

On the day the law came in, I wondered how long it would take for IT and marketing departments to get up to speed. Sure enough, there are examples of different contact numbers appearing on different pages of the same website, while every day on my way to work I see my train company’s 0845 customer services number staring down at me from the poster in the carriage. Is it too much to ask why, having been given six months’ notice, these things weren’t planned?

So it looks like we’ll have to continue flagging the new law to those slow on the uptake.

Watch out for unofficial numbers

One last tip – when searching online, make sure you click on the company’s website to get their official phone number. Pricey 084 or 087 customer service numbers may still come up on Google and other search engines. Oh, and beware websites that list companies’ contact numbers – they might not be the same number and you could end paying extra for them to connect you.

Have you seen companies ditching pricey contact phone numbers? Or have you spotted companies that are still breaking the new rules?

Comments
Guest
MrP says:
9 August 2014

Southern Water breach the directive re Customer Service Numbers . They still continue to promote 0845 numbers.Its not as if they havent had enough time to comply.

Guest

Wickes: They call their contact us page Get in Touch. They do have an 0330 number there but also the following statement

Please call 0844 8922 721 If you have a enquiry regarding a Kitchen of Bathroom order.

Guest

Think that 08 number are pricey for complaints / faults! Think again. Flextel still invites people to report faults in their service to an 070 number no doubt at staggering rates. Cut and pasted today:

“In the unlikely event that you experience a fault, call our 24 hour fault line on 0701 0700 151.”

I don’t think I’ll be reporting any faults!

Guest

I have a 0700 myself. But have never seen companies use them before.

Guest

This appears to be a breach of Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. Since June 2014, customer service and other post sales helplines must use numbers starting 01, 02 or 03.

If the current situation is unchanged, you may wish to report this apparent breach of the regulations to Trading Standards via the Citizen’s Advice national Consumer Helpline on 0345 404 0506.

Guest

NHS Choices still lists hospital contact numbers as 0845. I thought government services were supposed to have stopped using premium rate numbers by now.

Guest

See NHS Directions dated December 2009.

NHS bodies were given until December 2010 to stop using 084 numbers.

Guest

Just had a clothes aid bag through the letterbox, its quoting an 0845 for their helpline.

Guest