/ Technology, Travel & Leisure

Premier Inn stops using 0871 number for customers

premier inn

It might be one of the nation’s favourite hotel chains, but Premier Inn was charging customers too much for phone calls, until we stepped in. Have you spotted a travel firm promoting pricey numbers to customers?

Premier Inn was pushing customers who already had a booking to a high-rate number.

In a win for our Costly Calls campaign, high-rate phone numbers for customer service were made illegal in June 2014 by the Consumer Rights Directive. This states that calls to firms about existing contracts shouldn’t cost more than the basic rate.

When we made a test booking with Premier Inn, we found that the only numbers given in our confirmation email were all 0871 – costing 10p per minute plus network extras – rather than cheaper alternatives.

Its website displays an 0871 number for new bookings, and a cheaper basic-rate number for calls about existing reservations. But the email confirmation only lists the high-rate number.

Premium Inn changes number

After our intervention, Premier Inn said it would be removing the 0871 number from emails and adding a basic-rate 03 number instead. It also plans to add 03 numbers for hotels to the emails.

If you’re looking for a basic-rate number to call a company on, try saynoto0870.com. And if you see a travel firm advertising costly numbers to those who already have bookings, tell us below.

Comments
Guest
Mark Arnold says:
30 December 2014

You shouldn’t need to look on saynoto0870 for alternative numbers, the law already requires companies to promote a basic rate telephone number.

Guest

How have we got to the point where it is possible to charge megga-bucks for some phone numbers? In the old days there were local calls and trunk calls and that was about it. Now it is possible for someone to rack up a substantial bill by using a telephone without the knowledge of which numbers link to premium charges. I don’t know for certain which 08 and 09 numbers are the cash collectors and what difference there is in the charging for these. I suppose it is possible to look these things up but it shouldn’t be necessary. Phone companies seem to be able to be able to invent charges to suit themselves, and, as shown above, companies can also make money this way….since when did that become possible on a phone line? It is too easy for Jo Public to make a mistake and it shouldn’t be.

Guest

Numbers starting 084, 087, 09 and 118 are used for chargeable services paid for as the call is being made. Calls incur an additional Service Charge paid to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider. Services provided include recorded information lines, entertainment services, voting on a TV show, competition lines, chat lines, subscription-free conference calling, international dialling gateways, directory enquiries and so on.
Where things went wrong is that these numbers were adopted en masse for inappropriate purposes such as customer service lines and for contacting public services. This happened because many people assumed that BT’s rates were the standard. In fact, regulation imposed solely on BT ensures that BT’s rates for these numbers differ from all other providers. This regulation comes to an end in June 2015 and the true cost will finally be revealed.

Users of 084, 087 and 09 numbers who are NOT offering a chargeable service are being pushed over to the matching 034 or 037 number or to a new 01, 02, 030, 033 or 080 number. Regulation covering post sales helplines for retailers, traders and passenger transport companies and clear guidance covering government departments and public services is already in place. They are required to advertise an 01, 02, 03 or 080 number. Similar regulation covering the financial sector will come into force in 2015.

From 26 June 2015, new Ofcom rules come into force requiring all users of 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers to declare the Service Charge element of the call cost wherever their number is advertised. Those who are unable to justify this charge must change their number to one which does not impose it. This should force the majority of pre-sales enquiry lines and sales lines to also make the swap from 084 and 087 to the matching 034 or 037 number or to a new 01, 02, 033 or 080 number.

After many years of confusion, the UK number plan will become simpler and easier to understand:

01, 02 – landline numbers included in your call plan allowance else charged at geographic rate

03 – non-geographic numbers included in your call plan allowance else charged at geographic rate

070 – personal numbers charged at a premium rate

071-075, 077-079 – mobile numbers included in your call plan allowance else charged at mobile rate

080 – non-geographic freephone numbers, free from landlines and free from mobiles

084, 087, 090, 091, 098, 118 – non-geographic numbers which incur an Access Charge paid to the benefit of the caller’s provider and a Service Charge paid to the joint benefit of the service provider and their telecoms provider.

It will also become clear that a distinct “local rate” ceased to exist a long time ago. In fact, it was way back in 2004.

Guest

Thanks very much for giving us that information Ian. It is really useful and will end years of confusion, doubt and error.

Guest
NukeThemAll says:
2 January 2015

Excellent summary Ian – thanks

Guest
Peter says:
7 September 2017

Ansoluyely dead rogjy amd theyre still doing ot at Premier Inn when yoi enquire about a booking

Guest
Chris Basey says:
11 September 2017

Having just got off the phone to Premier Inn after being on hold for nearly 7 minutes I was frustrated that I had been paying 13p per minute for the 0871 number I had to call. Premier Inn emails still only have a premium rate number on them!!!
Premier Inn East Kilbride Central
Brunel Way, The Murray, East Kilbride, Lanarkshire
G75 0LD
Tel: 08715278450
View Map: click here

Guest

The Consumer Rights Directive is yet another example of poor legalisation, that doesn’t go far enough.

Can Which campaign for proper laws with substantial penalties for law breakers.

Even the now failed City Link was putting forward their 084 customer service number at the death. So Premier Inns wasn’t alone. And why? Because there are no penalties for not doing right by the customer. Its not only the companies that should be fined, but the CEOs too.