MSE News: Calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 to be clearer, but prices vary wildly

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  • zagfles
    zagfles Forumite Posts: 19,766
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    Ian011 wrote: »
    This is where consumers on these other networks, particularly mobile networks, have really lost out for the last decade or more, having to call an expensive number that the called party insists is cheap.
    So what has changed? Called party now says "service charge 1p/min plus access charge". True cost from most mobiles, 46p/min.

    Oh, I know what. Previously consumers were being misled and ripped off a little bit. Now consumers will be misled and ripped off big time.

    At least previously the called party warned that "calls from mobiles will cost considerably more".
    Call costs had to be unbundled in order to expose this additional cost added to the call price. In doing so it has already led to a massive reduction in the use of these numbers.
    So you say. Doesn't seem to match reality, though. See post #47. You also claimed companies don't use these numbers for customer services. They do. Several of the links in post #47 prove it.
    By continuing to offer inclusive calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers, BT hopes it can continue with this deception. Vodafone have clearly decided not to do so.
    Most companies using NGN's seem to use 0844 & 0871 numbers now anyway, rather than 0845/0870.
    The whole point of unbundling is to make businesses aware that when they use an 03 number the caller pays only their landline or mobile provider for the call but when they use an 084, 087, 09 or 118 number the caller is paying their landline or mobile provider for the call plus an additional fee to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider. Many users of 084 numbers would currently deny that is the case. Once they understand that point, by having to declare the Service Charge, their usual reaction is to move to an 03 number.
    What, you mean like hardly any companies use 084/087 numbers now as you claimed? And no-one uses them for customer services?

    Maybe previously BT had a vested interest in pushing 0845 numbers. Now every telco has a vested interest in pushing "cheap service charge" 0844 numbers.

    It's brilliant. Ryanair will be watching green with envy. How come their regulator stopped them charging £6 for credit card payments on flights they advertised for £12, but the telecoms industry is getting away with advertising 1p/min calls which really cost 46p/min?
  • Ian011
    Ian011 Forumite Posts: 2,432
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    The current system sees users of these numbers advertising 5p per minute calls which actually cost up to 45p per minute from a mobile phone. Unless you're on a BT landline you have no idea what the call will cost unless you are prepared to look through a hundred pages of tariffs to find the cost for that particular block of numbers.

    The new system dumps the hundred page listings and replaces them with a single Access Charge prominently listed next to the cost of calling ordinary landline and mobile numbers. This is added to the Service Charge declared by the organisation you're calling.

    If businesses are still using 084 and 087 numbers for customer services they are in breach of Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. Report them to Trading Standards via the Citizen's Advice national Consumer Helpline on 0345 404 0506.
  • zagfles
    zagfles Forumite Posts: 19,766
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    Ian011 wrote: »
    The current system sees users of these numbers advertising 5p per minute calls which actually cost up to 45p per minute from a mobile phone. Unless you're on a BT landline you have no idea what the call will cost unless you are prepared to look through a hundred pages of tariffs to find the cost for that particular block of numbers.
    I know what 0845/0870 numbers cost me now. Nothing.
    The new system dumps the hundred page listings and replaces them with a single Access Charge prominently listed next to the cost of calling ordinary landline and mobile numbers. This is added to the Service Charge declared by the organisation you're calling.
    Yeah, consumers will be just as aware of this as they were of mobile roaming charges when people were stung with charges of thousands, or even tens of thousands, due to the mobile companies being allowed to charge rates incorporating astronomical profit margins.

    Ofcom has been totally useless in protecting consumer rights, whether it comes to roaming charges, charges for stolen mobiles, reverse charge texts etc.

    It was the EU which forced reasonable roaming charges. We now have the ridiculous situation where on a lot of tariffs it's cheaper to make calls and send texts when abroad than it is in the UK. Because the EU have stood up for the consumer whereas Ofcom haven't.

    And now Ofcom are allowing this totally ridiculous and disproportionate "access charge".
    If businesses are still using 084 and 087 numbers for customer services they are in breach of Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. Report them to Trading Standards via the Citizen's Advice national Consumer Helpline on 0345 404 0506.
    That'll likely be as much use as reporting cold calling companies to the TPS. Or reporting companies for sending unsolicited premium rate texts. Or reporting companies for mis-advertising NGN rates.
  • Porcupine
    Porcupine Forumite Posts: 682 Forumite
    edited 8 June 2015 at 1:40PM
    To be fair, I don't think it's Ofcom that's at fault for this.. the tariffs are at least coherent. The problem is the massive stitch-up by the telcos. They think that people don't pay attention to these rates, and they can get away with huge rises.

    Looking at a random unstatistical sample of dialthrough numbers from the MSE Callchecker, I see:

    Number Old rate New rate
    08430150 0.5p/min 1p+access
    08448611 1p/min 1p+access
    08444628 2p/min 2p+access
    08448962 3p/min new rate not published
    08449016 4p/min 5p+access
    08444280 4p/min 4p+access
    08445666 5p/min 5p+access
    08717592 6p/min new rate not published
    08715379 6p/min 8p+access
    08715515 8p/min 8p+access
    08715536 8p/min 9p+access
    08713438 9p/min 9p+access
    08713310 9p/min 11p+access
    08719920 10p/min 13p+access
    08719139 10p/min 13p+access
    09112195 20p/min 20p+access
    09112093 25p/min 25p+access
    09114920 30p/min new rate not published
    09112315 30p/min 30p+access
    09111584 35p/min 35p+access
    09116679 40p/min new rate not published

    So some number operators are using this as an excuse to raise their rates a little, but most of them are sticking to the existing price plans. The big issue is that previously the 'access charge' was free, and now landlines are charging 10p/min. Previously you could dodge this massive hike by using a landline instead of a mobile, but now you can't.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to override providers. The problem for many VOIP providers is not the access charge, which is easy to bill for, it's that the numbering plan is an utter mess and they need to have many pages of number->price mappings just for the UK. Given that most countries' tariff sheet is simply 'landline £0.xx/min, mobile £0.yy/min' I suspect many providers won't bother connecting 084/087/09 numbers, as they currently don't.

    If this was reformed as 0841 = 1p/min service charge, 0842 = 2p/min, etc, it would make a lot more sense.
  • Ian011
    Ian011 Forumite Posts: 2,432
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    edited 8 June 2015 at 2:58PM
    Porcupine wrote: »
    ...the tariffs are at least coherent.

    So some number operators are using this as an excuse to raise their rates a little, but most of them are sticking to the existing price plans. The big issue is that previously the 'access charge' was free, and now landlines are charging 10p/min. Previously you could dodge this massive hike by using a landline instead of a mobile, but now you can't.
    For 084 and 087 numbers more than 80% of the 5035 number ranges have chosen a Service Charge that is close to the old rate.

    Only BT currently has an effective zero access charge. This is because Ofcom imposes regulation on BT's retail call prices for calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers, such that BT is not permitted to make margin on call origination to these numbers. This is the NTS Retail Condition and it will be removed on 1 July 2015. It is this that is the reason for BT now being able to add an Access Charge for the first time.

    For 084 and 087 numbers, TalkTalk, Sky, Virgin Media, etc currently have an effective access charge that varies between about 2 or 3p per minute and about 7 or 8p per minute depending both on the exact number called and on which provider is used to make that call. For 09 numbers their effective access charge can be more than 30p per minute and for 118 numbers it can be more than 50p per minute. From 1 July they each have to pick one rate and apply it to all 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers. They have all picked a rate somewhere between 5p and 11p per minute.

    Mobile operators have effective access charges that can be anywhere from 18p to 43p per minute for calls to 084 and 087 numbers. For 09 numbers they can often be more than 50p per minute and for 118 numbers they can be more than £1 per minute. Indeed there are many cases where a mobile operator is charging £3 to £5 per minute for a call to a 118 number and passing on less than £1 per minute to the DQ service. From 1 July, each mobile operator has to apply a single access charge to all 084, 087, 09 and 118 calls. They have mostly chosen a rate between 20p and 36p with the extremes at 8p and 44p.

    Don't forget that where there is a largish Service Charge price change for a particular dial-through number that it may well be that the list of destinations that can be dialled from that number may change on 1 July 2015. This is the first opportunity in 15 years to rationalise number blocks and pricing.
  • Porcupine
    Porcupine Forumite Posts: 682 Forumite
    edited 8 June 2015 at 2:58PM
    Ian011 wrote: »
    Only BT currently has an effective zero access charge. This is because Ofcom imposes regulation on BT's retail call prices for calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers, such that BT is not permitted to make margin on call origination to these numbers. This is the NTS Retail Condition and it will be removed on 1 July 2015.

    But previously other landline operators had an Access Charge (it wasn't labelled as such, but it was an obvious markup looking at the tariffs compared with BT) of 1-2p/min. For what reason did it suddenly jump to 10p/min except profiteering?
    Don't forget that where there is a largish price change for a particular dial-through number that it may well be that the list of destinations that can be dialled from that number may change on 1 July 2015. This is the first opportunity in 15 years to rationalise number blocks and pricing.

    The dialthroughs will probably shuffle their numbers, I agree. However their business model is hammered if everyone has to pay 10p to their landline provider - if 4p/min (or 6p/min from, say, Virgin) to <country> <landline> suddenly becomes 14p/min then people won't bother, they'll use Skype instead (or some other method - eg go back to calling cards).
  • Ian011
    Ian011 Forumite Posts: 2,432
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    edited 8 June 2015 at 3:36PM
    The reason for the increase in the access charge for calls to 084 and 087 numbers is the same as for the decrease for calls to 09 and 118 numbers. Each landline and mobile provider has to set a single rate for all of those numbers.

    While it may no longer be cost effective to use 084 and 087 numbers for dial-through services, most dial-through providers now also seem to have access numbers starting 020, 03 or 080. With these, the international leg of the call is paid for by buying a top up in advance or by paying a monthly bill.



    See also
    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5219071
  • jhp
    jhp Forumite Posts: 2,342 Forumite
    edited 8 June 2015 at 6:21PM
    Porcupine wrote: »
    they'll use Skype instead (or some other method - eg go back to calling cards).

    Plenty of other choices.

    Some landline suppliers cheap intl call bundles.

    Cheap Intl Mobile Payg Calls.

    Call back.

    Prepaid Accounts .Including top up by premium number or premium Text. Offering access via 01/02/03 if you have inclusive minutes, or 0800/0808 freephone.
  • zagfles
    zagfles Forumite Posts: 19,766
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    Ian011 wrote: »
    The reason for the increase in the access charge for calls to 084 and 087 numbers is the same as for the decrease for calls to 09 and 118 numbers. Each landline and mobile provider has to set a single rate for all of those numbers.
    Because Ofcom in their infinite wisdom have decided that telco costs/provision for bad debt etc, which is obviously a much greater risk with the much more expensive numbers, has to be shared equally between callers of cheap service charge numbers.

    So they are basically forcing callers of 084 numbers to subsidise callers of 09 numbers.
    While it may no longer be cost effective to use 084 and 087 numbers for dial-through services, most dial-through providers now also seem to have access numbers starting 020, 03 or 080. With these, the international leg of the call is paid for by buying a top up in advance or by paying a monthly bill.
    So instead of simply dialling a number, people have to set up an account, plan in advance. They may as well use Skype if they have to plan in advance. Callthrough services will likely be killed off. Well done Ofcom.
  • zagfles
    zagfles Forumite Posts: 19,766
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    Ian011 wrote: »
    For 084 and 087 numbers, TalkTalk, Sky, Virgin Media, etc currently have an effective access charge that varies between about 2 or 3p per minute and about 7 or 8p per minute depending both on the exact number called and on which provider is used to make that call
    Just checked the main telestunt numbers, which you can use to call to most of Europe, USA, Australia, NZ etc.
    0844 8 618 618 - 1p/min on BT, 2.14p/min on TalkTalk.
    0844 200 45 45 - 0.5p/min on BT, 1.57p/min on TalkTalk.

    So just over 1p/min "access charge" on TT currently. Well under the lower end of your range.

    On TT will now treble in cost, and they have the lowest access charge of all providers. On BT will be 10 or 20 times the cost.
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