/ 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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Mike Leese says:
9 August 2013

About 2 years ago it took 2 hours 20 minutes to get an MAC to transfer my broadband to another provider.
It is generally a nightmare calling premium rate service numbers as the company gains twice.
ie. less staff to man the phones, a longer answer time gains greater revenue.
It is actually fraudulent as there should be a price as to cost of call and how long you will have to wait for an answer.
BT did not have an email address to deal with simple questions.
Not even an FAQ. or a Q&A sheet.

Dr Andre Hedger says:
10 August 2013

For IT companies not to have an email address is also a scam. The reason they do not is that emails have an audit trail and would clearly prove some of the appalling poor service given. TalkTalk were similarly difficult for me with hours on the phone just to transfer to another broadband supplier

37% of people tell lies on the telephone than with any other form of interaction – even face to face.


Lies, damned lies and phone conversations

New Scientist vol 181 issue 2434 – 14 February 2004, page 23

Jackie Davidson says:
24 August 2013

you were lucky as soon as I asked for a mac code to change from BT to SKY I was cut off for three months,each time I got in touch with BT on my neighbours phone they tried fobbing me off by saying the fault lay with SKY I got so fed up I rang our local newspaper and asked if they could help, my phone line was working within three and a half hours the same day, so you was really lucky Mr Lease

Internet access is now classed in law as a human right. Some people who have been denied access by their ISP have sued successfully and got compensation.

Figgerty says:
26 August 2013

Louis, I don’t believe this statement. Are we now having very expensive human rights lawyers fighting our consumer battles?

A few months ago, a German man who was denied Internet access for three months won his legal battle. The judge agreed with his argument that Internet access is now a basic human right, just as much as access to basic utilities like electricity and water.

So my previous post is based on fact, or at least as the law stands in Germany. It would be fair to assume that, with legal precedent elsewhere, this case may be argued in a UK court.

I am merely suggesting that Jackie Davidson considers this route.

Michael Weeks says:
9 August 2013

I have noticed many Government departments use 0845 numbers. I think flood alert was one.
Is the pot calling the kettle black?

Fred says:
10 August 2013

Not only that if you are on unemployment benefit and need to contact you have to phone.0845 number and listen to a load of rubbish before you are put through and then hang on again to speak to right person

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 report that is highly critical of the government’s own use of non-geographic numbers. It appeared around July 18th.

It warns: “Callers do not receive a better service from higher rate numbers and many callers are put off calling government phone numbers altogether. The most vulnerable callers, such as low-income households, face some of the highest charges. Each department needs to take a clear approach to using higher rate numbers and protecting vulnerable callers, and improve their understanding of how to get the best value from telephone services for both callers and taxpayers.”

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

Fortunately my contract with BT includes 0870 and 0845 calls within my fixed monthly charge for calls. Not 0844, and at the time of writing I’m unsure about 0871. But I think the idea that companies should be able to charge customers who call to buy something, or complain about it is monstrous. That goes for government departments too. I pay enough tax already. (Though no doubt they’ll argue that this way I’m paying less tax than I would otherwise).

For genuine ‘help’ (such as a computer problem) it is perhaps justifiable. but:
1. The charge should not start until one is connected to a suitably qualified ‘helper’
2. It should be clear at the outset what the (per minute) charge will be.

100% agree the charge should not start until moment of actual connection .

I have noticed some numbers unfailingly give the same ” all our operators are busy….” no matter when you ring them !

Always look for a geographic number (01 or 02) or a geographic-rated number (03) to call. Unlike 0843, 0844, 0845, 0871 and 0872 numbers there is no Service Charge to be collected from the caller. Revenue share is not permitted on 03 numbers.

0845 and 0870 numbers are currently classed as “inclusive” calls on some landline call plans, but this is probably just a short term blip in the long history of phone charges.

0845 numbers impose a Service Charge of around 2p or 3p/min on callers. Some landline operators currently choose to subsidise that charge, Mobile operators do not subsidise it, hence those calls remain expensive.

Although revenue sharing is currently not allowed on 0870 numbers, the call price remains extortionately high from mobiles. Revenue sharing will shortly return to 0870 numbers. The level of the new Service Charge imposed on calls to 0870 numbers will likely be high enough such every call provider will remove the “inclusive” status.

The “connection fee”, as currently imposed by most landline providers on 084 and 087 calls, will be scrapped. It will be replaced by a per-minute Access Charge.

The “NTS Condition” will be lifted from BT next year. This will allow BT to apply an Access Charge.

Every provider will set a single Access Charge covering all 084, 087 and 09 numbers, one per tariff.

These changes will see all 084 and 087 numbers confirmed as being revenue-share numbers funded by a Service Charge imposed on all callers. This is why the recent draft legislation published by BIS bans all 084, 087 and 09 numbers from customer service use.

Ofcom is expected to shortly publish legislation that will make 080 calls free from mobiles as well as from landlines.

Ofcom confirms 03 numbers are the only non-geographic numbers that are charged at geographic rates for all landline and all mobile callers. For all callers with an “inclusive” call plan, 03 numbers also count towards that call allowance.

The BIS legislation steers users towards using 03 or 080 numbers if they need a non-geographic number and towards 01 or 02 numbers if they need a geographic number. No caller is disadvantaged (compared to geographic rate) by the use of any of those numbers.

dale says:
10 August 2013

There are many people who now use the “free evening and weekend” or “free anytime” call plans but the goal posts are being moved all the time!
In the early days of these plans they only included 01 and 02 but later included 03 and 0845/0870. It seems to me that companies increased their use of 0845/0870 when the early free call plans were introduced and then changed to 0844/0871 when 0845/0870 were included in the plans.
It frustrates me that when a free call plan is enhanced the businesses change their numbers so calling them is no longer free.
Having said all that I do use “saynoto0870” web site, sometimes to good advantage but not all the time.

When revenue sharing was removed from 0870 numbers in 2009, a large number of companies swiftly moved to 0844 numbers. Many were cheeky enough to issue a press release heralding the move as a cost saving for callers. Whether they believed that to be true or not, or had simply been misled about call prices somewhere along the way, we’ll probably never know. However, there are many clues that can easily found online.

At the time, there was a school of thought that Ofcom might also remove revenue sharing from 0845 numbers, but they did not. Many companies using 0845 numbers were nevertheless tempted by the prospect of earning revenue share from callers and also moved to 0844 numbers. This practise has spread widely, fuelled a large amount of mis-information, not least that “all callers pay 5p/min” a false assertion which can be found in hundreds of places.

Consumers have gained very little, if anything, from 084 and 087 numbers. This fact is now recognised. The NAO recently said in relation to the government’s use of these numbers:

“Callers do not receive a better service from higher rate numbers and many callers are put off calling government phone numbers altogether. The most vulnerable callers, such as low-income households, face some of the highest charges.”

The same could equally be said about business use of these numbers as well as the use by GPs.

All that is about to change. The new BIS legislation bans the use of 084, 087 and 09 numbers for customer service lines in many businesses. Pressure will need to be applied to increase the scope of the rules to cover transport and finance, and public opinion brought to bear on other users such as government and the usage of these lines for other purposes.

This is the biggest change to non-geographic numbers in decades. It’s an opportunity to finally put things right.

Rather than trying to make calls to 084 and 087 numbers cheaper, the new approach is to move many businesses to 03 numbers which are already cheaper when called from landlines or mobiles. For businesses that remain on 084 and 087 numbers, the call charge structure will be simplified and users will be required to declare their Service Charge.

johnhh says:
10 August 2013

These services cost and we have to pay for them. The cost of calls offered free of charge become an administrative one shared amongst all departments in the company. Prices, generally, will be adjusted upwards. Granted, by a much smaller amount than that for the individual call but do not bury your heads in the sand. There are costs in providing services, which costumers must bear.

RE: “These services cost and we have to pay for them.”

The call features found on non-geographic numbers cost about 2p/min to run.

With 084, 087 and 09 numbers, the caller pays for these features through part or all of the Service Charge. The Service Charge prevents these calls from being included in call package allowances (BT offering 0845 calls within inclusive packages is an exceptional case, not the normal situation). Phone networks also add their own charges and markup on top. These calls rapidly become expensive, especially from mobiles.

After the cost of running the phone number and the non-geographic call features are taken out of the Service Charge, end-user businesses make nothing on 0845 numbers, up to about 3p/min on 0843/0844 numbers and up to about 9p/min on 0871/0872 numbers through revenue share. The caller is paying a large sum for the call in order for the business to make a very small amount of money. This is especially true if the call is from a mobile phone.

Unless there are many dozens of people being held in the queue for each available operator, the incoming revenue stream on 0844 numbers in no way pays for the running costs of a call centre.

09 numbers have a far greater Service Charge and companies can make a serious amount of money from these. They are subject to additional Premium Rate Services (PRS) rules and regulations designed to protect the consumer.

With 03 numbers (and 0870 numbers while revenue sharing is banned) the business pays for the call features. The caller does not pay a Service Charge. The call price is the same as calling a geographic number and the call may be inclusive within call package allowances (except for 0870 numbers when called from a mobile phone, these remain non-inclusive and very expensive).

When using an 03 number, the cost to the business is very small. The fact the business has to pay for the call features also means the longer the call queue becomes, the more the business has to pay. This encourages businesses to be more efficient in answering calls and not hold people in a long queue.

The cost saving for callers is very much larger than the additional cost incurred by business. Callers may be saving around 30p to 41p/min from mobiles and around 5p to 10p/min from landlines when calling 03 numbers compared to the cost of calling 084 and 087 numbers. In comparison, the business is paying less than 3p/min for the call features when using an 03 number.

Rather than try to massively reduce the cost of calls to 084 and 087 numbers, the BIS solution is to move many businesses over to 03 numbers where call costs are already low and the calls are inclusive from landlines and mobiles.

With these new BIS regulations, businesses will each pay the modest running costs of their phone number. They will no longer be allowed to use they type of number that forces the caller to pay those running costs, fund a revenue share scheme, and be subject to excessive levels of markup added on by the originating telephone provider.

Businesses that choose to remain on 084, 087 and 09 numbers will become subject to new Ofcom regulation in 2014. They will be required to declare their Service Charge. Objectively, many businesses will not be able to justify that charge and will voluntarily move to geographic-rate (01, 02 or 03) numbers even when not subject to the new BIS regulations.

080 numbers are free calls, but only from landlines. At present, mobile users pay for those calls. Ofcom will shortly publish draft legislation ensuring 080 numbers are free calls from mobiles. Businesses using 080 numbers pay for the call origination as well as for the non-geographic call features. The cost to business of incoming 080 calls is therefore more than the cost to business of 03 calls. With calls to 03 numbers effectively being “free” (inclusive) for many callers, most businesses will be content with using 03 rather than 080 numbers. Only businesses requiring the call to be completely free for every caller will bother with the modest extra expense of running an 080 number.

Ingrid says:
10 August 2013

For years, my doctors surgery has an 0844 number. At busy times you can be held in a long queue before connecting with the surgery where you could then be held in another queue! On one occasion, a call from my mobile cost over £5! I now try to call in rather than phone which is often very inconvenient.

Allan Hill says:
11 August 2013

I had the same problem. I told the practice manager and my GP that I refused to use this 0844 number. They said they had had many complaimts. They have now reverted to a normal geographic local number. I say complain and keep complaining..

jmsaric says:
10 August 2013

ALL extra cost tariffs should be abolished immediately I.E. NOW, TODAY!
Lets get away from this rip off culture for ever.

Thomas says:
10 August 2013

This is precisely what the 03 range was brought in for. 03 numbers must be treated as national calls for the purpose of billing (so you can use inclusive or free minutes) but are non-geographic so can be routed through call centres and so on. The government should take this opportunity to take the lead and say that absolutely every government service with a telephone number will be in the 03 range by 2015. (They can keep the old numbers as well in case people are used to them or have old versions of literature, but it is completely unacceptable for people to have to pay substantial fees to call government services.)

0800 numbers are not much use as most mobile providers charge 20p a minute or more to call them.

For the record, 0845 and 0870 numbers can no longer revenue-share. Revenue-share means the person receiving the call is paid some of the cost of the call. 0843, 0844, and 0871 numbers can revenue-share, which is why so many businesses are using them!

RE: “0800 numbers are not much use as most mobile providers charge 20p a minute or more to call them.”

Ofcom will shortly publish draft legislation that will eventually make (0500,) 0800 and 0808 numbers free from all mobile phones.

RE: “For the record, 0845 and 0870 numbers can no longer revenue-share.”

0845 numbers might not pay out a revenue-share, but the caller still pays a Service Charge when calling them. This charge, at around 2p or 3p/min, is only just enough to pay for the non-geographic call-handling facilities. The Service Charge imposed on callers allows the user of the 0845 number to run it free of charge. However, the user will not make any extra money from it.

BT and several other landline providers confuse the situation by subsiding these calls and allowing them within some inclusive call packages. Once the “NTS Condition” is removed from BT and they are allowed to add an Access Charge, this situation may well end.

Revenue sharing was removed from 0870 numbers in 2009. While these calls might now be inclusive within some landline call packages, they are still very expensive from mobile phones. Businesses using 0870 numbers now have to pay for the non-geographic call-handling; there’s no Service Charge to fund it. However, very few businesses use 0870 numbers; many moved to 0844 numbers as soon as revenue sharing was removed.

Other 084 and 087 numbers impose a Service Charge on all callers. In most cases, this charge is large enough to both pay for the non-geographic call-handling and fund a revenue-share out-payment to the called business.

BIS deem it inappropriate for these fees to be imposed on callers who phone a business for customer service reasons. The new legislation will force those businesses to use 01, 02, 03 or 080 numbers. In some cases a mobile number may also be appropriate.

03 numbers offer a much better experience (than 084 and 087 numbers) for callers. The caller does not pay a Service Charge and revenue sharing is not permitted. Calls to 03 numbers always cost exactly the same as calling a geographic number. This includes qualifying for inclusion within call package allowances on mobiles and landlines.

Current BIS policy is to move as many businesses as possible to non-geographic (03) numbers, or to geographic (01 or 02) numbers. Businesses can also use free (080) numbers for customer service. In order to facilitate that, Ofcom will shortly make 080 numbers free from all mobile phones.

High time this was banned. Unless absolutely necessary, I will only deal with companies who provide a geographical, 03, or 0800 number or for whom I can find one at saynoto0870.com. I won’t be ripped off!
Even more annoying is my only available doctor’s surgery which still has an 0844 number despite a government directive, one of the 2 or 3 out of 80 or so practices in the local Yellow Pages.
As for excluding financial institutions from the legislation – why?
I also agree with the above comments about the lack of email addresses. Anyone would think that many companies made it as difficult as possible for their customers to contact them by any means at all once they have got your money – perish the thought!

RE: “As for excluding financial institutions from the legislation – why?”

Financial organisations are covered by separate legislation.

Pressure should be brought to bear on the responsible government departments to put equivalent rules in place covering financial organisations.

I thought doctors’s surgeries were banned from using 0845 and 0870 numbers and how many of those are still using them? I’ll believe it when I see it and it appears it wont go far enough anyway. I think the vast majority of people disagree with premium rate numbers and the concept of recouping business costs through a telephone call. If it genuinely covered the costs of the co providing some genuine service you were receiving then fair enough but does it end there?

I agree withyou my surgery keeps you on with all the bumf about NHS DIRECT ,makes you want to hang up BUT we are ringing to make appointments because we are ILL ,glad I have 0945 free of a sort I pay £4 a mnth for the privelage

Denise Cottham says:
10 August 2013

What about calls to Doctor surgeries? Endless messages & options & time wasted, plus cost!

bryn says:
10 August 2013

How much do the users of the high cost numbers make on each call?

Keith says:
10 August 2013

In answer to “how much do the users of the high cost numbers make on each call”, When firms ask a question to a competition and the answer is blindingly obvious,thousands of people phone in & bingo the prize money is” Raised”.

RE: “How much do the users of the high cost numbers make on each call?”

That’s maybe not quite the right question to ask. Perhaps “what are callers paying in terms of ‘termination fee’ or ‘Service Charge’?” is slightly more relevant. What the number user “makes” is only a small part of the story.

When calling an 0845 number, the caller pays a Service Charge of about 2p to 3p/min and this covers the cost of the non-geographic call handling. While the number user makes nothing, the number user is saving 2p to 3p/min by getting callers to pay for running the service.

Since revenue-sharing is not allowed on 0870 numbers, users of these numbers make nothing from incoming calls. The number user has to pay for the non-geographic call-handling features. Callers do not pay a Service Charge but this hasn’t led to calls from mobiles becoming low-priced. These calls sometimes count towards inclusive packages from landlines, but Ofcom made that optional when they changed the rules in 2009.

When calling an 0843 or 0844 number, the caller could be paying a Service Charge of anything up to 7p/min. This money pays for the non-geographic call-handling and other fees. Any remainder funds a revenue-share out-payment of anything up to 2p/min. However, many users of 0844 numbers take out their number in conjunction with a lease for telephone equipment. They use the revenue-share money to pay the lease and then claim they “do not make a profit from the calls”. This is one line proferred by the hundreds of GPs signed into just such a system.

When calling an 0871 or 0872 number, the caller could be paying a Service Charge of anything up to 13p/min. This money pays for the non-geographic call-handling and other fees. Any remainder funds a revenue-share out-payment of anything up to 10p/min. If the number user has a lease for telephone equipment, they will pay it off more quickly when using an 087 number. Those 087 numbers are also covered by some additional PRS rules.

So, it’s not just a case of “how much the user makes”, but how much Service Charge the caller pays and where it all goes. A fraction of a penny per minute is taken by the owner of the non-geographic number. If there’s a separate agent that sold the telephone number to the businesses they also get a small cut. The non-geographic call-handling fees are generally paid for by callers (except on 0870 and 03 numbers where the business has to pay them). Once the Service Charge has covered everyone’s fees in terminating the call, any excess may be paid out to the number user in a revenue-share deal.

That’s still not the whole story. The caller may be paying a lot more than the Service Charge when calling an 084 or 087 number. Mobile networks often inflate the call price anything up to 41p/min with an extortionate markup. On other occasions, it’s not always apparent the caller is paying a Service Charge. Some landline providers choose to fund the Service Charge for 0845 calls from the monthly call package fee and make those calls inclusive rather than charging the caller a fee for each 0845 call. This is a rare exception even though some people seem to think this arrangement is “normal”.

malcolm campbell says:
10 August 2013

Government proposals?.
H.M. REVENUE AND CUSTOMS uses an 0845 number I tried to let them know about a possible scam email,but this line keeps you on for such an unreasonably long long time with their press 1-2-3 etc,and their music that I hung up.
The government should start by taking action against their own departments.

Many landline packages include 0845 numbers as free calls. As an aside, HMRC have an email contact on their website specifically for reporting scam emails – the advantage being you can forward the scam email.

Tribal Lady says:
10 August 2013

Trying to contact Inland Revenue is like trying to raise the dead. Once you have gone through the menu, then menu, then menu again and then gone into a queue you are often cut off – “all our advisors are on calls at the moment” or such like – have tried about 4 times without getting to speak to a real person – still trying – and all the time – the telephone bill racks up …..

ClydeSkin says:
10 August 2013

In recent weeks HMRC have started moving to 03 numbers – almost all numbers have been converted. The old numbers can still be used for about another year.
Check the HMRC website hmrc.gov.uk for your new number.
It is worth phoning them at off peak times – evenings and Saturdays – their web site gives the operating hours.

Virgin doesn’t

Virgin doesn’t do what?

The worst offender is HMRC. I gather they will be exempt. WHY?

The numbers I see for HMRC are 03 and 030. These cost no more than calls to geographic numbers and are included in free call packages for landlines and mobiles. Is that correct?

RE: “The worst offender is HMRC. I gather they will be exempt. WHY?”

It’s not that they are “exempt”, it’s more that Government departments are not covered by legislation that is clearly aimed at business.

The worst offender is not HMRC. Over the last 6 months HMRC have moved most of their 0845 and 0870 numbers to new 0300 and 0345 numbers. The last few numbers will be converted in the next few months.

The worst offender is DWP. The recent NAO report is highly critical of government usage of these numbers.

With legislation about to come into force affecting business usage of non-geographic numbers, government needs to move quickly to implement similar rules for their own telephone numbers.

Peter says:
10 January 2014

Would be really useful if you could link to the BIS documents / legislation and/or give date(s) for when firms will have to be using alternatives to chargeable 08xx numbers.

Peter says:
10 January 2014

Please ignore my request for links – I see that elsewhere in this (pretty long) discussion, there are various links. I will see if I can find dates for these changes coming into force – and hope it covers business, charity and government use of such numbers, since many people may now be using mobiles (from which many of these calls have been much more costly) and others may be on basic line rental deals with no “included” calls (my 5.99 line rental covers no calls at all – my choice as I have a mobile and can use 1899.com to route calls for 5p to 01 and 02 numbers {but sadly they don’t cover 03 numbers}).

Pat Fisher says:
10 August 2013

Call it what it is THEFT from the public

Stan Knipe says:
10 August 2013

also 0844 should be banned

I recently had problem with Sky I spent a total of 17mins waiting to be conected,then second call 15.5mins cant be right to be treated like this we also pay a 330 FEE PER MNTH 2 WTCH sKY’ ANOTHER COMPANY WHO KEEP YOU HANGING ON IS vAX HAD I KNOWN THEYRE TELE SERVICE COSTS TO RING i WOULD HAVE STUCK WITH MY DYSON.

What annoys me is that the RAC breakdown service uses an 0800 number, with no alternative. This means, if you use a mobile, both you and they pay for the call! Where’s the sense in that?

Ring the RAC free from your (or someone’s) land line, explain the irony – let’s face it, most breakdown calls will be made from a mobile – and ask for a ‘normal’ number that you can use if you ever find yourself in that situation (i.e. 01/02). They must be able to give you one, surely?

RE: “What annoys me is that the RAC breakdown service uses an 0800 number, with no alternative. This means, if you use a mobile, both you and they pay for the call! Where’s the sense in that?”

Someone at the RAC clearly does not understand what they doing. They are wasting their money as well as causing many callers to pay more than they should.

Ofcom will be making all 080 number free from mobiles. What’s the betting that the RAC will change to an 03 number the same week that Ofcom make that change?

Clint Kirk says:
12 August 2013

The 0800 number existed since the days before mobiles were common, and those would broke down had to walk and walk until they found a phone box, and then they could ring the RAC without having to find the right change in their pockets. In those days, the 0800 number made a lot of sense. It makes no sense now.

I emailed them two years ago, pointing out this problem, and they just emailed back to say they did not have an alternative to the 0800 number. They failed to address the point I had made. I then repeated the 0800 issue as one of the reasons for leaving the RAC when I rang them to cancel my renewal (though the real reason was the AA was cheaper through topcashback). They still didn’t take any notice – I just re-joined the RAC this month and they still have the same number.

Ingrid says:
12 August 2013

When phoning 0800 from my mobile (I believe this was the AA but not 100% sure) I was told that as that call would not be free, to redial omitting the first zero.

I think the “redial omitting the leading zero” instruction applies only to mobiles on O2.

Ingrid says:
12 August 2013

Yes, it was on 02 – worth knowing.

I see the RAC have finally got the message. Their website now says: “Call 0333 2000 999 (mobile friendly) or 0800 828282…”

This is very new (within the last month). Better late than never.

Thanks for the good news, Clint.

Last time I called out the RAC, neither me or anyone I knew had a mobile phone. 🙂 I have always felt that the breakdown services should offer no-claim discounts.

Think I will stick with the AA.
They have 2 geographical numbers on their cards ( breakdown and changes/enquiries) so it won’t cost me extra to call them from my mobile.

Don’t forget that you can also use overseas numbers for UK businesses if offered. Just substitute zero for the 44 prefix. This will at least give you the geographical number and charge.

There is another problem here. When any company charges people to wait in a queue they make more money the more inefficient they are. That is the wrong sort of feedback, and if we want our country to be prosperous it has to be efficient. Any company or profession that profits from inefficiency is damaging the country and these practises should be banned by Parliament.

True they should be banned but the practicability of enforcement would be the main stumbling block.