I have two bits of news to share with you about our Costly Calls campaign – one involves the Big Six energy suppliers, and the other GP practices. Both had expensive 084 phone numbers in common…
Scottish Power is the last of the Big Six energy suppliers to move away from an expensive phone number for its customer service line.
You can now call Scottish Power on 0800 0270 072 or 0345 270 0700. That means your call will either be free or won’t cost more than a local rate number, whether you’re calling from a landline or mobile.
Scottish Power made the change following the launch of our Costly Calls campaign, with a spokesperson telling us:
‘We want to make it easier for our customers to deal with us and that’s why, following feedback from our customers and consumer groups including Which?, we are moving our main number to 0800 for our most frequently used Customer Service number.’
GP phone numbers
In other news, NHS England this week wrote to GPs asking them to stop forcing patients to call expensive phone lines.
Around 8% of practices still use pricey 084 numbers, despite rules in 2010 saying GPs couldn’t sign new deals with phone companies that would require expensive numbers for patients.
Of course, many GPs had contracts in place before the new rules came into effect. However, the Department of Health told GPs at the time that they should take ‘reasonable steps’ to change contracts that didn’t comply with the rules.
Many of you have been sharing GP practices that use 084 numbers here on Which? Convo. You shouldn’t have to pay a premium to make an appointment with your GP. In fact, NHS England’s deputy medical director Dr Mike Bewick says it’s a ‘health equalities issue’:
‘There is a real risk that more financially secure patients will wait on hold to get an appointment, no matter how much it costs them, where a poorer patient will be forced to hang up because they can’t afford the cost of the call, and not receive treatment because of that.’
Have you spotted a costly number?
We want all companies and public bodies, including GPs and NHS dentists, to offer either freephone or local rate numbers for their customer phone lines. You can help by joining 58,000 others by signing our Costly Calls petition.
Have you spotted a company or GP using an expensive number? Did you get hit with a big phone bill?