Sunday, December 02, 2007

0870 numbers con

Link to who campaign against them, and have a list of many alternative local numbers.

This one took me a while to research. Years ago, when privatised, BT started 0990 numbers, which made callers pay national rate regardless where they lived, and I didn't like the sound of this. Now they have been moved to 0870 numbers. Discount call providers have no option to undercut these, unlike normal national rate calls. In fact, very few service providers even charge a national rate now, effectively making 0870 numbers, charged at 10p per minute peak rate 7p more than the standard UK rate (excepting BT). The 'nice' phrase BT use for it is 'Revenue sharing'. How sweet, them sharing their money with their up till now poor customers. Well, that's the spin they put on it anyway. NB, illegal programs allowing unauthorised calls to be made by an automated dialler are theft, isn't this the same as having an 0871 or 0870 number that has no requirement to display the charge (unlike 09 numbers) and making people use these numbers, hang on a queuing system for a time before being answered, and add around 60-80% to the price of the equivalent call? It takes some research to get the prices charged to use these numbers- it took a few calls to BT before they finally agreed to reluctantly send me the free booklet with non-local charges, as they refer to them. Most people see 087 numbers and only find out what they do when the bill arrives. And even then, what are they meant to do if they have an essential enquiry? Send a letter or email that can be ignored or take months to reply to?

I took some time to dig up the details but I can now say every business using an 0870 number receives 1.5 to 2p per call, depending on the volume received. It costs nothing to get one, and anyone can ask for one.

Worse still, the new 0871 low premium rate costs 10 p a minute at all times, the owner receiving 2.5 to 3p per minute per call made, depending on the volume.

This means we are basically being charged to go shopping or receive customer service, with the businesses making a profit simply from customers having to make enquiries. I see no way the government (for it is their deregulation) can justify businesses charging to call them, as without us, the customers, they wouldn't exist. These details were finally also published in the Daily Mail in February 2004.

I can clearly see a time when businesses will be able to make us pay when they call us next, and there'll be a rash of companies set up to make 'Junk phone calls' like the existing junk faxes, so we can forfeit 짙1 every time we answer the phone. Do you think this sounds crazy? Well would you have thought businesses charging customers extra on top of the call to phone them crazy as well before it actually happened?

All opinions gratefully received as usual.

1st opinion I've been given was businesses do it to keep product prices down, plus most people don't question call charges (unlike me!). That does explain why they do it, but is it right? They didn't have to do this before it was permitted, and they will always jump on any opportunity to increase profits, making excuses why they have to charge more, while dripping crocodile tears as they claim to feel sorry foor the poor customers they are milking for all they can.

2nd: American businesses want to encourage their customers to call, and don't do this, but usually have freephone numbers. Something to do with 'goodwill' and 'customer relations' apparently. What's that?

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