/ 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

NukeThemAll says:
2 January 2015

Excellent summary Ian – thanks

Peter says:
7 September 2017

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

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

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.

Many of these companies are confused about the cost of calling their own numbers. They are often sold these 084 and 087 numbers as being cheap to call, with BT’s regulated and capped retail rates quoted and used to justify this assertion. Indeed, many sellers still advertise 0845 numbers as “local rate” or “low call rate” even though the ASA told them in 2005 to stop saying this.

BT now has less than 20% of the call origination market. Most callers are with a different landline provider or are using a mobile phone. Call prices from these other providers are unregulated and they are allowed to make margin on call origination. These call prices are not transparent, there’s no indication as to how the revenue is shared out.

Many users of 084 and 087 numbers deny they “make a profit” from these numbers. However, most users seem to be unaware that the additional cost of running these numbers is being subsidised by callers. Although they make not make a “profit” they are in receipt of a financial benefit.

From 26 June 2015 all users of 084, 087 and 09 numbers are required to declare the Service Charge element of the call cost wherever their number is advertised. Most businesses are unlikely to want to be seen to be directly imposing additional costs on callers, but that is exactly what Ofcom’s reforms require them to do. This should cause most users to re-evaluate what they are doing and many will change to the matching 034 or 037 number, or to some other 01, 02, 03 or 080 number, by that date.

This will have an effect on many pre-sales and sales lines as well as on the remaining businesses that have yet to comply with Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013. The Ofcom regulations will also overtake the too-little, too-late, actions of the FCA who have still not produced any regulation for the financial sector governing their use of 084 and 087 telephone numbers. The changes will have little effect on government and public service phone lines. The vast majority of these have already been changed to new 03 numbers. These include HMRC, DWP, EA, SLC, UCAS and many others.

“Indeed, many sellers still advertise 0845 numbers as “local rate” or “low call rate” even though the ASA told them in 2005 to stop saying this.” So that’ll be almost 10 years and some companies are still getting it wrong. If only legalisation was stronger.

Oh and I even had to report Trading Standards to Trading Standards in September for still using an 0845 number too.

By “sellers” I mean “those telecoms suppliers who sell 0845 numbers to businesses and advise them what these numbers cost to call”.

A Google search will reveal hundreds of telecoms suppliers imploring businesses to “change to a local rate[sic] 0845 number”. Many of their websites are years out of date and quite misleading.

The new system of call charging for 084, 087 and 09 numbers to be implemented in June 2015 should bring much needed clarity for callers as well as across the entire industry.

Some businesses will come to realise they have been duped by their telecoms supplier and are using numbers which are quite unsuitable for the uses they are currently being put to.

Caroline Clark says:
3 January 2015

The Disclosure and Barring Service based in Liverpool who process criminal record checks for the Home Office only have premium rate telephone numbers to contact their Customer Service teams – 0870 90 90 811. Many people who need criminal record checks because they are working in Health & Social Care or Education sectors on low incomes and often cannot get through if their mobile phone restricts calls to premium rate numbers. This is most unfair.

From 26 June 2015 they will have to declare the Service Charge for their 0870 number. If it is more than 7p per minute, or per call, they will have become a Controlled Premium Rate Service.

It’s more than a year since the Cabinet Office guidance was published. Only a small number of 084 and 087 lines, this being one of them, still await a move to replacement 03 numbers.

Sarah says:
5 January 2015

I’m amazed by the number of companies still trying to get away with this on their correspondence! Another site I find helpful is PleasePress1.com . They have lots of cheaper rate no’s listed & in most cases they give all the menu options too. Worth a look if like myself you get driven mad by this kind of thing. In the meantime, lets hope that more companies start realising that they can’t escape the law.

I can understand why companies were using expensive phone numbers for customer services, and thankfully this has been stopped. What I have never understood is why some companies use expensive numbers for new business, especially when their competitors are not doing this. I presume that they must be relying on people having no understanding of which numbers are expensive to call.

Many of the businesses using these numbers have little idea what callers are being charged. Ofcom’s new transparency measures will be a wake-up call for them too.

Businesses using 084, 087 and 09 numbers for sales lines have until 26 June 2015 either to amend all of their materials to declare the additional Service Charge imposed on callers, else change their number to one which does not impose it.

There will be no material change to 084, 087 and 09 call prices, just better visibility of where the revenue actually goes. Most businesses will be reluctant to declare that it goes to them.

I have made a point about complaining about having to use expensive numbers, whether or not I have had to use the number or have found an alternative. Generally I have been told that I’m the first to mention the problem.

Perhaps we should put the June date in our diaries and be ready to tackle those companies that have not acted by the deadline. I did this with a few companies that were tardy about getting rid of their 084 numbers for customer service.

I would be nice to know what massive fines are waiting for companies who haven’t bothered to migrate numbers or update paperwork by the June date. I’m guessing it’ll be words rather than anything useful as a punishment.

I cannot find any evidence that any organisation will be fined for not meeting the deadline for getting rid of expensive customer service numbers.

Look at the small number of fines that have resulted from years of companies pestering us with nuisance calls. It gives me very little confidence in how companies are kept in check.

Simon says:
12 January 2015

A few years ago Ofcom made 0845 and 0870 numbers cheaper to call from landlines. In many cases, they are free calls from landlines.

When will they extend this to mobiles and to other numbers such as 0844 and 0871?

Ofcom removed revenue sharing from 0870 numbers in 2009. Many landline providers, including BT, made 0870 calls inclusive, not free. However, this was of no little or no benefit to callers because most users simply moved to new 0844 and 0871 numbers in order to continue receiving revenue share payments. Additionally, mobile providers did not drop their call prices for 0870 numbers.

At the same time, BT mistakenly believed that Ofcom was about to remove revenue sharing from 0845 numbers and also made these calls inclusive in call plans. In the end, Ofcom did not proceed with removing revenue sharing. This has left BT in the awkward position of having to pay out about 2p per minute to the terminating provider when inclusive calls to 0845 numbers are made from BT lines – but without billing those customers individually for those calls. This situation has created immense consumer confusion.

Most other landline providers have not followed BT’s lead, nor should they. Nor should this be extended to other number ranges such as 0844 or 0871. Nor should this be extended to mobiles. In fact, the reverse should happen and that will soon be the case.

Forget all the stuff you think you know about ‘local rate’ and ‘national rate’. All that ceased to be true in 2004. Stop thinking that 0845 and 0870 calls are meant to be cheap or inclusive. It’s a lost cause, and with good reason.

Revenue sharing returns to 0870 numbers in June 2015. It continues on 084 and all other 087 numbers. Users of these numbers will be required to declare their Service Charge wherever their number is advertised. Those who are unable to justify the imposition of a Service Charge on callers must change their number to stop imposing it.

Ofcom made replacement 03 numbers available in 2007. There is no Service Charge on these calls and revenue sharing is not permitted. Calls to 030, 033, 034 and 037 numbers are cheap or inclusive on landlines and mobiles alike. These numbers are ideal for customer services, public services and financial institutions as well as sales and enquiry lines. All the recent changes in regulation and guidance have this as the end goal.

084 and 087 numbers will return to usage only for chargeable services paid for as the call is being made. These calls should NOT be inclusive in call plans. Only those people who call these chargeable services should pay the Service Charge.

These changes represent a huge simplification in the numbering scheme and leave no room for misrepresentation of the call costs.

Solly says:
30 May 2015

As of today Premier Inn still using 0871 on their website and on calling it you are advised it costs 10p per minute, what a cheek

I’m trying to book with Premier Inn Ilford. Not only does their price jump by £17 when I click through to book, but when I phone to ask them why, they charge me 13p per minute for the privilege on an 0871 number. Its outrageous.

Tim Smith says:
1 September 2015

yes the phone number 0333 rings but all you get is a continual message about using their website and that they are busy helping customers. someone will be with you shortly….lies
After 13 mins I gave up.

Just been charged sixteen pounds for 0b87152792222. On hold for ages which must of increased one of the most expensive calls I have ever made. NEVER AGAIN

Lorraine Cartwright says:
7 December 2015

I am trying to ring premier inn and the price of a phone call is ridiculous to make a booking I was led to understand that they stopped using the 0871 numbers in 2015 this information is supplied by which

R. Morgan says:
15 March 2016

As at this date…They are still robbing people. The 0871 number is still in place with no alternative.

Chris Mather says:
30 March 2016

It seems Premier Inn are laughing again as they are not offering a basic rate number for existing bookings. I have been told that I need to speak directly to the Honiton branch and given the number 0871 527 9508, when I questioned this they said that is the only number, is this allowed?
Seriously unhappy with them and I’ve not even stayed yet, the first and last time I use these greedy bast$$ds.

I wanted to book a meeting room with them based on a co-worker’s recent candid memories with Premier Inn. Tried to use their website: no result in all of Edinburgh for 12 people (max capacity was 10). Tried to call: no alternative number for the 0871 central line (isn’t that illegal in the first place?), but managed to dig up (out of curiosity) a local number from a 3rd party website. Called them, waited long, got switched to someone else, then being told that there are no room but there may be in one of the hotels, but they can’t see because it is managed locally (?!?!), and I need to call that hotel directly, here is a(nother) 0871 number for me…that is when I gave up, and spent 500 quid somewhere else (no premium rates, no contradicting information).

Premier Inn: congratulations to you! For the a potential small gain from a premium rate call, you just have thrown out the window 500 pounds of real revenue (plus potential future business, because I’m sure you understand I don’t consider you first the next time I need a meeting or hotel room). Very good business model!!

I have just been told I have to pay 13p per minute and after listening to some music for 2 minutes was informed that the staff in Canterbury were too busy right now and I should call back later or visit the website……..
Travelodge for me then!
Thanks Travellodge

Premier Inn Twigworth hotel, as listed in the webpage below, list a 0871 number. Pressing the “Contact us” at the bottom of the page, eventually displays a 033 number.


The non-chargable number is 01452 228493, as found on http://www.saynoto0870.com/numbersearch.php and verified by me.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

kjomie says:
14 July 2017

Premier Inn has reverted to using costly 0871 number for contact, no alternative available.

Premier inn is still publicising the 0871 on their website ; http://www.premierinn.com/gb/en/hotels/england/county-durham/durham/durham-city-centre.html

Saynoto0870 shows the non 0871 number as 0191 374 4400 & I can confirm that’s correct.

Andy Wells says:
18 September 2017

September 2017 – still advertising 0871 numbers, I have just spent a total of 35 minutes waiting to query a bill with them, at 13p a minute plus phone charges; it’s disgraceful. Email states they will get back to me in 14 days. Very poor service. Ironically I’m phoning them to try and pay, as they neglected to take a payment when we booked in, or out – I’ll e-mail them and see how long it takes to get back to me!