/ Technology

Making a complaint shouldn’t come at a premium

Cartoon of woman on phone

Have you ever had to call a premium rate 0845 or 0870 number just to make a complaint about a recent purchase? New government proposals could soon see premium rate charges scrapped for company helplines.

Being a loyal customer can be expensive. If you want to call your energy company’s customer service line, a pricey 0845 number may be waiting for you. And yet, what number is a prospective customer given? A free-phone 0800 number.

Well, this uncomfortable inconsistency could soon become a thing of the past. The government has said that calling a company’s complaints or customer service line should not cost any more than calling a geographic landline or, if calling from a mobile, no more than the standard mobile rate.

The new legislation is set out in the government’s response (PDF) to the European Consumer Rights Directive, and should come into force in June next year.

The end of rip-off call charges?

So, could this be the beginning of the end for rip-off call charges? Yes and no. Companies will still be able to charge higher rates when you’re purchasing goods or services, but not when you call up to complain about that purchase.

It’s also worth noting that financial services aren’t included in the government’s proposals, as they are covered by separate regulations. This is disappointing considering that last year we found that most banks and insurers use 0800 numbers for new customers and 0845/0844 numbers for their existing loyal customers.

Government departments will also not be covered by the new rules, and the inclusion of transport companies is currently up for consultation.

What about calling from a mobile?

Of course, if you don’t have a landline, calling from a mobile could still be a bit pricey, just as calling an 0800 number can be at the moment. However, at least you’ll be content in the fact that it won’t cost more than calling another mobile.

I’m one of the landline-less among us, but I am lucky that my mobile provider doesn’t charge for 0800 numbers. So, how do I call my bank or energy company? I track down their 0800 sales number for new customers and ask them to put me through to the right department!

Confusing 084 and 087 call costs

And it’s not just the cost of non-geographic 084 and 087 numbers that are frustrating – working out how much it will actually cost can also be very confusing. This is because the rates differ depending on the company you’re calling and also the phone provider you’re with. The cost of calling an 0845 number from a BT line can be dramatically different to calling from a Virgin line, for example.

To this end, the communications regulator Ofcom is also working to simplify non-geographic charges. Ultimately, call charges for calling helplines need to be clear and transparent so that you know exactly what you’re going to pay before making a call.

It’s encouraging to see that the government is tackling this issue – it’s been a long time coming. Do you resent having to call premium rate numbers to make a complaint?

Should companies scrap premium rate numbers for their helplines?

Yes (99%, 6,176 Votes)

No (1%, 46 Votes)

Total Voters: 6,222

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I can see a reason for using premium rate phone lines to provide personal technical support, but no-one making a complaint should be expected to use them.

The cost of phone calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers was one of the reasons that I switched to a tariff that includes them. That saves looking for alternative numbers, but I still have to do this for 084… numbers. 🙁

When it was first introduced, the Say no to 0870 website was not much help, but it is now very useful.

PeterM says:
23 February 2014

It’s not just for complaints though – I find it very odd that even some ‘sales’ lines are 0844 or 0843 or 0871. It’s plain and simple money grabbing, as far as I am concerned, so I simply won’t bother with them at all.

Yes and No. Yes, just because nearly all companies have a model where all parts of the organisation should be bringing in revenue, doesn’t mean I should have to pay to contact them, If they did whatever well enough in the 1st place I wouldn’t need to. And No, as I have a call plan which includes them.

I rang Thames Water this morning at 01:30 yes that right. Why? Because two men in high vis jacket were doing something with the water meters and they woke me up with the noise at 01:05. I had to use an 0845 number, grr. Turns out they had crews out doing active water tests, but if they hadn’t they wouldn’t have woken me up and I wouldn’t have needed to ring them.

From July 2014, Article 21 of the Consumer Rights Directive will ban businesses from using 084 and 087 prefixes for after-sales telephone lines. For some unknown reason, some industries (e.g. airlines and banks) are exempt from complying, but the UK government can remove these exemptions in the UK if it wishes. Let’s hope that it applies a blanket ban across all industries.

Why has this not been done without the need for input from the EU? We are very good at recognising what needs to be done but seem powerless to take action.

On the basis of Ofcom’s performance with other issues, it seems very unlikely that they will simplify charges for calling non-geographic numbers to the extent that the average person can remember the cost. My suggestion is to have a technical solution so that we can enter part of a number followed by a hash to check the cost per minute before calling: for example 0844# The price could be both displayed for those with Caller Display and also announced audibly by an automated system.

Bernard Hunt says:
9 August 2013

Good Idea.

But why not make it law that ALL calls to any number are either free of cost no more than the provider’s standard charge.

I am particlarly annoyed that when I call my bank, I am being charged a premium rate, yet the bank has a war chest of money (that they won’t lend)

Certain numbers are designed for revenue sharing. The caller pays for the service through the Service Charge, a form of micro-payment. These numbers should exist, but there should be strict rules as to who can use them and when.

I admit. I am a hypocrite with this.

As Which? already knows, I have a 0871 as my home number. I have this so I make money when PPI/cold callers phone me.

But, I hate them numbers. I hate 0845, 0844, 0843, 0870, 0871 the list goes on and I refuse to call them.

When I need to speak to a company the first thing I will do is search for a 0800 freephone number and if i can’t find one, take to Twitter and get the company to phone me (on my 0871 number) or speak via DM instead….and it works as companies like to show they help people on social networks.

Colin Halton says:
9 August 2013

Completely agree!

Do people who need to call you and from who you want to hear have a non premium rate number? I hope so, otherwise you are punishing genuine callers.

My 0871 numbers sits on top of my normal Leeds 0113 number. 2 people have my 0113 number and that is my mother and my best friend. There is no need to give anyone else the number as I speak to other people via txt or on skype for free.

When I am opening a new bank account or moving my energy etc and they ask for my “home number” I give the 0871 and sometimes they ask why. I am honest and say it’s so I make 10p per min when companies call me. If you want a number for me that will have to use it.

That’s interesting. Where can I find out more about how this works? I might consider it for myself.

Lee, you are a hypocrite, but I forgive you – only because I don’t have to phone you. How much does your 0871 number cost. It may be a way of getting rid of nuisance callers or do you still get them?

It sounds like a good idea, but do you really get PPI and other cold calls to your 0871 number? I thought most of these PPI callers just dial random numbers until they find one that exists. Then they will get your 0113 number. They are unlikely to ring random 0871 numbers as most of these belong to companies rather than individuals.

It cost me £10.00 plus VAT. I do still get PPI calls, but not much at all tbh.

I have only had 1 cold call these last 2 weeks & that was from NPower.

“but do you really get PPI and other cold calls to your 0871 number? I thought most of these PPI callers just dial random numbers until they find one that exists.”

I look for ways to get companies to call me tbh. Like 3 days ago I had a problem with my Ocado shop. I tweeted them and they asked me to call a 0845 number. I refused and asked them to call my 0871 *** **** number. I posted this in a open tweet so if cold callers pick up on that number it will help me make a few more quid if they phone me.

(oh and Ocado did phone me on the number and sorted out the problem)

I admire your spirit of enterprise and your cheek. How long did you have the number before earning the cost of it?

Lee, do you make enough to cover the cost to you?

“I admire your spirit of enterprise and your cheek. How long did you have the number before earning the cost of it?”

When I first got the number i was making around £7 a month from it. So it paid for itself in less than 2 months. But my cold calls have slowen down loads this year.

“Lee, do you make enough to cover the cost to you? ”

Yes, I paid a one-off £10 plus VAT and i do not pay monthly or yearly. The company who I have bought it off makes money on every call just like me. So they do not need to charge anything else apart from the £10+VAT.

This month, August, I have had 16 calls so far & my “Rebate” is £2.867. I would post a screen shot. But you can’t on Which.

The downside is the disruption of receiving calls and the time used in keeping the caller on the line. Only an individual can decide whether the small rebate is worth these drawbacks.

Thats amazing. I often supply a fake telephone number when I have no option but to supply a number and when I don’t think the organisation needs to have my telephone number. This, I think could be a solution. Perhaps if I start having nuisance calls I may follow your example.

“Only an individual can decide whether the small rebate is worth these drawbacks. ”

I work from home so I am always at my desk when the phone goes anyway so i just listen to them blab on while i carry on with my work 🙂

I pay £19.99 (including VAT) a month for my normal line rental & unlimited broadband with Plusnet I do not have any extra calling plans so i pay for each and every call i make. I normally spend around £2.00 – £2.50 a month on calls that I make. So if my rebate covers that then i am very happy indeed & that is no goal.

Last year I was making much more. But this year has been little slack.

But even if you get on with your work while they are talking on the phone, it will still cause at least one minute’s delay to your work due to disrupting your train of thought. Considering most calls are hardly more than a minute, at 10p a minute that’s £6 an hour – roughly minimum wage. If I were you, I would outsource your telephone answering to Bangalore. You can get someone there to be your personal agent for £2 an hour, then you pocket the remaining £4 an hour without having to do anything!

richard says:
2 September 2013

+1 on this. They expect US to call THEM on a chargeable number! Whats good for the goose is good for the gander…

I don’t know how much these 084 and 087 calls cost a minute, and Ofcom’s call cost guide, although interesting, is not much help:
– for landlines
– 0843 and 0844 “typically 1p to 13p per minute
– 0845 “typically..1p to 10.5p per min…often include a call set-up fee”
-0870 “2p to 10p per min and may include a call set-up fee”
-0871/2/3 “5p to 12.5p per min plus a call set up fee”
– 118### £s!
So you neither know what a call will cost, nor how long your call will last (navigate through endless “press 1 for..”) and then how long will you be kept waiting.
03 numbers are there to avoid the 08 uncertainties – they must be included in inclusive minutes. We should abolish 08.
Where I can,I use email or the website contact mail – with the bonus of a written reply – unless I’m in a hurry. Then use SAYNOTO0870.COM

Don’t forget those who use contract and PAYG mobile phones, Malcolm. On the rare occasions that I have had to use a PAYG phone, it was very expensive to call certain numbers.

The only positive move that I have seen is companies that offer a callback service if you contact them by phone or email.

I did just illustrate landlines, but the same Ofcom guide lists from 10p up to 41p per min for mobiles for these numbers. You can soon rack up a large bill. I have a PAYG mobile that I use only when necessary, so spend little on it.

Mobiles don’t really feature in my life either, but we certainly need support from those who use mobiles regularly or exclusively.

And also remember http://www.pleasepress1.com

Every telephone network publishes their prices on their website, though it’s not always in plain sight.

Landline price guides are difficult to use and confusing because you have to look up which tariff code (such as g6 or g10) applies to the number you are calling. Once you have that code, looking up the call price is fairly easy. Don’t forget there’s usually a connection fee of around 15p and this makes a large number of short calls very expensive.

Finding the price that applies to a call from a mobile phone is much easier. Mobile networks generally charge the same for all 0844 numbers rather than basing the price on the first 6 digits of the telephone number you are calling. The price for 0845 may be the same as for 0844 or it may be a different amount, but that amount will apply to all 0845 numbers. Similar principles apply to 0870 and to 0871. The disadvantage of calling from a mobile is that the caller pays from double to ten times the rate of calling from a landline. There is some price variation between the various mobile networks, though most seem to charge around the 35p/min mark.

More important than the actual price is gaining a sense of which calls are inclusive in call plans and packages.

03 – inclusive from all landlines with a call package (check whether “anytime” or “evenings and weekends” applies) and from all mobiles with a call package (contract phones or pay-as-you-talk bolt-on deals) else charged at “standard geographic rate”.

0843/0844 – always chargable from landlines and from mobiles. The Service Charge stops these calls being inclusive. BT are regulated to charge no more than the Service Charge for these calls. Other providers may charge more. Mobile operators always charge a lot more. The business you are calling makes money from the revenue share of whatever is left after the call-handling costs (queueing, IVR, etc) have been met from the Service Charge monies.

0845 – always chargeable from mobiles. Although there is a Service Charge around 2p to 3p/min, some landline companies (especially BT) subsidise this charge and allow 0845 numbers as inclusive calls in some packages. This is an exceptional case and must not be seen to be the normal arrangement. The Service Charge barely covers the call-handling costs incurred by the called party and therefore isn’t usually large enough for them to receive a revenue share out-payment. However, the company is still benefitting from the Service Charge; it is paying for the non-geographic call-handling facilities and this relieves the called company from having to pay for them.

0870 – always chargeable from mobiles. Ofcom banned revenue sharing in 2009. It’s optional whether these calls are inclusive – some landline operators allow this, mobile operators generally do not. When those new Ofcom rules came into force in 2009, the vast majority of businesses moved to an 0844 or 0871 number so they could continue to charge the caller a Service Charge and benefit from the revenue-sharing of that charge. 0870 numbers are therefore no longer widely used.

0871/0872 – always chargable from landlines and from mobiles. The Service Charge stops these calls being inclusive. BT are regulated to charge no more than the Service Charge for these calls. Other providers may charge more. Mobile operators always charge a lot more. The business you are calling makes money from the revenue share of whatever is left after the call-handling costs (queueing, IVR, etc) have been met from the Service Charge monies. These numbers are also covered by some of the Premium Rate Services (PRS) rules.

084, 087 and 09 numbers are usually sold to busineses with “no running costs when diverted to a UK landline” listed as an advantage. The reason there are no running costs imposed on the called business is that the caller is paying a higher rate for the call, part of which is the Service Charge. The money collected through the Service Charge pays for the call-handling facilities. If there is anything left over after that, the called business may also receive a revenue share payment.

The new BIS draft regulations (published last week) inform businesses they must stop using 084 and 087 numbers for customer services by June 2014 and adopt a standard 01 or 02 number, a non-geographic 03 number or an 080 (“free”) number.

Ofcom will also make a number of changes in 2014 (though some will be deferred until 2015):
– revenue sharing (through a re-introduced Service Charge) will return to 0870 numbers and they will work the same way as 0871 numbers.
– BT’s 08 and 09 prices will no longer be regulated (BT 01 and 02 calls were deregulated in 2004). BT will be allowed to charge 08 and 09 numbers the same way as all other providers.
– The Service Charge imposed on all calls to 084 (including 0845), 087 (including re-introduced on 0870) and 09 numbers will be confirmed and users of these numbers will be required to declare the Service Charge every time their number is advertised.
– 080 numbers will become free from mobile phones.
– The “connection fee” will be abolished on calls to 08 and 09 numbers from landlines, replaced by a per-minute Access Charge.
– Variable levels of markup, depending on the number called, will be abolished. Each network will publish a single replacement Access Charge and it will apply to all calls made to 084, 087 and 09 numbers. There will be a single Access Charge per tariff.

This point is important. Although the call price from landlines will continue to vary depending on the number called, this will wholly be down to the variation in Service Charge set by the telephone number you called. Mobile networks will no longer charge a highly-inflated single fixed rate. At present you might use a mobile phone to call several numbers with equivalent Service Charges ranging from 1p to 10p/min and be charged 41p/min for every one of those calls. Clearly, the mobile network has added an extortionate and variable amount, somewhere between 31p and 40p/min, on top of the Service Charge. In future, phone networks will declare a single fixed Access Charge that applies equally to all 084, 087 and 09 numbers. The call price (will be the sum of the Access Charge and Service Charge and) will therefore vary in step with the variation in Service Charge. Declaration of the Access Charge by mobile operators should also result in a price reduction for at least some of these calls; mobile networks will not be able to justify an Access Charge of 30p or 40p/min. The call price “per-minute” rate from landline operators may be seen to rise by a small amount. They will replace the approx. 15p connection fee with a small Access Charge charged at a per-minute rate. The overall call price is unlikely to change much unless the call is either very short or very long. Other than the effect caused by a steady rise in the connection fee, the call price for many 084 and 087 numbers as called from a landline has remain largely unchanged since 2000 – caller’s bills have risen mainly because a large number of companies have changed to using higher priced numbers (especially the mass flight from 0870 to 0844 several years ago).

The Service Charge will be 1p to 7p/min on 084 numbers, 1p to 13p/min on 087 numbers and 7p to £3/min on 09 numbers and will, as already happens now, be set by the first six digits of the phone number called. Additional PRS regulation will apply to most 087 and all 09 numbers but not to 084 numbers.

The call price will be the Access Charge charged by your network plus the Service Charge charged by whoever you are calling. It will be clear how much the called party is making. It will be easy to find the network with the lowest Access Charge.

Above all that, many businesses will no longer be able to justify imposing a Service Charge on callers and will change their number to one without this charge. Many others will be compelled to do so by June 2014 under the provisions of “The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013” published last week.

The present system is very complicated. The changeover will be very complicated. The end result will be a much simpler system as much of the present complication will have been removed. All 084, 087 and 09 numbers will be seen to work in the exact same way as each other, merely differing in the level of Service Charge imposed. Each user will declare the Service Charge that applies to their phone number. Each phone network will have one simple Access Charge per tariff and it will apply equally to all 084, 087 and 09 numbers.

I’d be interested to know how this legislation will impact on so-called “Helpdesk” phone services.

I’m adept technically, so if I do phone for support it is usually because I can’t make the damned product work according to the instructions. So my call to a Helpdesk number is only one step away from becoming a complaint.

RE: “I’d be interested to know how this legislation will impact on so-called ‘Helpdesk’ phone services.”

Ultimately, where the boundary lies between “free customer service” and “paid technical support” might have to be tested in court.

In practice, when forced to declare it, many companies simply will not be able to justify a Service Charge and will change to a telephone number that does not impose this charge on callers.

Completely agree – if you are phoning to complain or for a refund, it’s an added slap in the face that it will cost you a lot to do so!

Why deal with part of the problem of companies making life awkward for customers? Should there not be a universal code and Which? deals with the whole matter. This was in a June conversation and posted by NFH

“Ryanair makes it particularly difficult to claim reimbursement because it corresponds only via postal letter to a non-UK address or a premium rate telephone number. It has to provide an e-mail address by law but it fails to do so.

Regulation 6(1)(c) of the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 mandates that where a company sells its goods or services via a web site, it must provide an e-mail address for communication “in a direct and effective manner”. This is the UK’s enactment of Article 5(1)(c) of Directive 2000/31/EC “Directive on electronic commerce”, which is likewise enacted in Ireland (Ryanair’s country of incorporation) under Regulation 7(1)(c) of the European Communities (Directive 2000/31/EC) Regulations 2003.

This is a deliberate ploy by Ryanair to discourage claims and complaints. Why don’t the authorities take action against this malpractice?

The lack of response by Which? to a very adequate conversation point is an example of engaging members which is one-sided and unsatisfactory.

So we now have lack of e-mail contacts and a mixed scenario on what industries can still use premium complaint numbers. As e-mail addresses are a requirement why is that not part of this thread?

What bugs me is that if you call an airline in the UK you have to use a premium rate phone number but phone that same airline in the USA or Canada and it is a freephone number. That applies to all of the major airlines.

R. Danon says:
9 August 2013

Companies who publicise premium numbers sometimes also publish a UK number for those who wish to call from outside the UK. Those are not always easily accesible but a bit of research on their website reveals them. I always use those and never had a problem.
Ronnie Danon

BILL says:
9 August 2013

the surgery the lady of the house uses an 0844 telling you that you are being transferred then options then wait for reply

John says:
9 August 2013

Let’s get one thing straight. 0845 and 0870 are NOT premium-rate numbers. Since August 2009 0870 is charged the same as a UK national landline call and some operators include it their calling plans so if calling 01/02/03 is free at any time then so is calling 0870. Calling 0845 from a landline generally costs about the same as a UK national number (10p – 12p/min) and with some operators is much cheaper or even free if they include it in their calling plans, e.g. BT. The problem is that different telephone companies charge different rates for calling the same number, some are good and some having a laugh. It’s not the code that’s the problem, but telephone companies exploiting the complicated and confusing tariff system we have.

Angela says:
9 August 2013

I agree with John that clearer pricing is needed from phone companies. My BT residential package includes free calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers, so it costs me nothing to call them. Mobile phone companies are the main culprits – why can’t they include 0845 numbers in their free bundles?

Michael Open says:
9 August 2013

They ARE premium rate for many people who have been persuaded by the phone company to have a subscription where phones to landlines are free.

RE: “Let’s get one thing straight. 0845 and 0870 are NOT premium-rate numbers.”

Let’s be very clear that 0845 certainly is a premium number and that 0870 will shortly be so once again.

Calls to 0845 numbers incur a Service Charge around 2p or 3p/min. BT and some other landline providers choose to cross-subsidise that charge and allow the call as “inclusive”. This is unlikely to continue once BT’s “NTS Condition” is removed next year and once all phone networks have to specify a single Access Charge per tariff covering all 084, 087 and 09 numbers.

0870 numbers currently do not have a Service Charge and revenue share is not permitted. It is voluntary whether phone networks make these calls inclusive. Some landline operators have chosen to do so, but mobile networks have not.

There is now intense customer confusion because 0870 and 0871 numbers are charged at vastly differing rates from landlines, but are charged much the same as each other when called from mobiles. Likewise with 0844 and 0845.

All that happened when Ofcom removed revenue sharing from 0870 in 2009 was a mass exodus of businesses from 0870 to 0844. This increased the phone bill for many landline callers. Call charges remained high, and perhaps increased by a small amount, for mobile callers.

This time, things are going to be different.

Ofcom’s simplification is to confirm all 084 and 087 numbers as being revenue-share numbers that impose a Service Charge on callers, as well as introducing new call cost declaration rules for these numbers. BT call prices will also change to become more like the other landline networks.

Although 0870 is going to return to being a revenue share number and 0845 will continue as such, the new BIS regulations will force very many businesses away from using 084 and 087 numbers and on to 03 or 080 numbers.

Taken out of context, some of the new rules look like a backwards step when examined in isolation. It is only when you look at the complete picture that various things fall into place.

RE: “Mobile phone companies are the main culprits – why can’t they include 0845 numbers in their free bundles?”

Calls to 0845 numbers include a 2p or 3p/min Service Charge. Mobile phone companies ask the caller to pay for this (plus they add a whole load more on top). BT chooses to cross-subsidise those calls and several other landline operators decided to copy them. This is a highly unusual arrangement and one that is not likely to continue (but it won’t matter once many existing customer service lines have migrated from 0845 to 0345 under the provisions of the new BIS regulation).

Wendy says:
9 August 2013

Another tip I was told was if you can’t find an 0800 or a landline number , try phoning the number they give you to phone if you calling from abroad. I haven’t tried it but I was told it connects to a normal landline number.
Tax credit are 0845 as well got my daughter into a lot of money trouble at a time she couldn’t afford it.

Colin Halton says:
9 August 2013

Smartphone users should check out an app called 0870. I use it whenever faced with one of these premium numbers. You simply enter the premium number and invariably the app will come up with a “Normal” phone number.

Will the government also ensure that all government departments remove these numbers from their call centres as this is as big a rip off as businesses.

It would be hypocritical if the government did not do it for its own departments when it is proposing the above for the private sector.

HMRC have already moved many of their numbers from 0845 and 0870 to 0300 and 0345. The remainder are expected to move in the next few months.

The National Audit Office recently published a highly critical report on the government’s own use of non-geographic numbers. It appeared around July 18th.

It’s now down to central government to set their policies in line with what they require of businesses.

I’ve just finished complaining to Boots about a delivery and the number was an 0845. I wasn’t on long fortunately and my query was dealt with politely and quickly, but I have phoned some of our high street shops and been on for 30 minutes or more. It also annoys me when I ring that number I am listening to a spiel and given dozens of button options while paying the premium price. It can take minutes before you reach the section you are after.

http://www.pleasepress1.com is useful in shortcutting your way past menu options.

Angela says:
9 August 2013

The main problem is the high charges from mobile phones. I work in the telecoms industry and know that calls to 0845 only cost the mobile operators a little more than a landline call, but they charge their mobile users much more than cost. So Which? should focus on mobile operators pricing practices.

Ofcom’s “unbundled tariffs” will shortly require phone companies to set and declare a single Access Charge covering all 084, 087 and 09 numbers. At present, the equivalent of this charge is around 25p to 35p/min, varies depending on the number called, and is hidden away within the overall call price.

The mere act of having to declare this charge should see a hefty reduction in its level. With the forced revelation of this charge and enhanced clarity for consumers, competition effects will also come into play.

If the charge is still seen as excessive there is always the possibility of further Ofcom intervention leading to the Access Charge being subject to a price cap.

Brian Johson says:
9 August 2013

Don’t forget that a lot of Doctors’ surgeries use an 0844 number to book an appointment which is scandalous !

GPs were banned from using 084 numbers in April 2010 through a variation to their contacts with the NHS. This ban was re-confirmed in the April 2013 version of the contract. The same wording still applies.

GP surgeries should have moved to a number beginning 01, 02 or 03. This arrangement means the caller no longer pays a Service Charge within the call price. The surgery will have to pay for the special call features found on a non-geographic number. The caller will no longer be funding the system.

Contact NHS England, your local newspaper, and your MP and voice your opinion.

Mike Mundy says:
9 August 2013

“Which” are hypocrites.

I fully support the abolition of premium rate 08 numbers.

However, “Which” promote these numbers in every issue of Which? magazine.
They should tell firms that following a product review, only geographical numbers will be printed for customer follow up. I wrote to Which? about this once. Never got a reply.

It would take very little effort for ‘Which?’ to “suggest” that advertisers offer a geographic number (01 or 02) or a geographic-rated number (03) when they advertise with ‘Which?’.

Let’s see which one ‘Which?’ considers more important: consumers, or the advertising dollar.

Note: 0845 and 0870 are NOT geographic-rated numbers. Some providers choose to offer these numbers at reduced cost, but mobile operators do not. Only 03 numbers are confirmed as “geographic rated” from all mobiles and all landlines.

It would be a great help if Which? would publish the equivalent geographical or free numbers in the magazine, rather than listing the expensive numbers when publishing manufacturers’ contact details. That would be a useful service for members.


Looking at the July 2013 issue of Which?, which was to hand, the number for Amazon is given as 0843 4799792, which seems to be their general Customer Services number. Looking up Amazon on the Say No to 0870 gives 020 7084 7911 and 0800 4961081. I have not called either of these numbers, so cannot be sure that they work, but in the past I have found geographical and free numbers for other companies when expensive numbers have been published in the magazine.


If you cannot find free or low cost numbers, why not just leave phone numbers out for these companies? Perhaps an email address could be an alternative, rather than publishing an expensive number.

Companies seem to put Which? in quite high regard, so what might be even better would be something like “REFUSED to give geographical number” instead of any number.