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What is a Call Connection Service? (Be aware, and then avoid)

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What is a Call Connection Service? (Be aware, and then avoid)

edited 24 December 2019 at 4:19PM in Phones & TV
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edited 24 December 2019 at 4:19PM in Phones & TV
Nowadays, most organisations use inclusive 03 numbers or free-to-caller 080 numbers. These numbers will be published on their official website.

If you are searching the web for the contact details of any well-known organisation such as a retailer, trader, passenger transport company, bank, card company, insurer, government department or public service, be aware that many of the results will be for copycat or call connection service websites offering expensive 084, 087 or 09 telephone numbers and avoid them.



What is a Call Connection Service?

A call connection service is a website that offers a selection of premium rate numbers starting 084, 087 or 09 supposedly for "connecting" callers to well-known organisations. These premium rate numbers are offered on the connection service website in place of the inclusive 01, 02 or 03 numbers or free-to-caller 080 numbers published on the organisation's official website.

Call Connection Services charge premium rates for calls that would otherwise be inclusive or free. Some people may consider this to be a scam.


Why use a Call Connection Service?

You would use a Call Connection Service and call their premium rate number if:
  • you are in the habit of calling phone numbers found in web search results without checking if they are genuine or what they will cost,
  • you failed to read the disclaimer on the call connection service website that says it's not the official number, or such declaration was hidden or missing,
  • you didn't see the call costs that are required to be declared alongside all such premium rate numbers, or the call costs weren't stated,
  • you missed seeing the mention of, and link to, the official cheaper number for contacting the organisation, or such information wasn't supplied,
  • you read all of those things but simply didn't understand what was being offered,
  • you are happy to pay up to £4.15 per minute for calls that would otherwise be inclusive or free had you got the correct contact number from the official website, or,
  • you are in a hurry, or otherwise vulnerable or believe everything found on the web to be genuine.


What does it cost to call a Call Connection Service number?

Call Connection Services use premium rate numbers starting 084, 087 or 09. Callers pay an Access Charge and a Service Charge when using a Call Connection Service.

The Access Charge is set by the caller's phone provider. From landlines, this is usually around 10p to 13p per minute. From mobiles, this is usually around 44p to 55p per minute. The same rate applies irrespective of which 084, 087 or 09 number is called.

The Service Charge is set by the Call Connection Service itself. For 084 numbers, this can be up to 7p per minute. For 087 numbers, this can be up to 13p per minute. For 09 numbers, this can be up to £3.60 per minute. The Call Connection Service earns money from revenue share payouts derived from the Service Charge.


Are Call Connection Services legal?

Call Connection Services using 087 and 09 numbers with a Service Charge of more than 7p per call and/or per minute are regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority. They are required to state they are a Call Connection Service and the premium rate number is not the official number for contacting the organisation, must declare the call costs immediately adjacent to the premium rate number and must also provide the official contact number or a link to it for each organisation they claim to connect callers to. At the start of any call, they must state the call charges and mention they are a connection service or that this is not the official number. These rules are designed such that no-one would ever call the premium rate number as doing so offers no value to callers, it merely parts callers from their money for failing to be completely aware of what they were doing.

Services using 084 numbers or using 087 and 09 numbers but with a Service Charge of 7p per minute or less are not subject to PSA regulation. It's no surprise that a vast number of call connection services operate using telephone numbers that have a Service Charge that is 1p per minute below the threshold for the PSA regulations to apply to them. Nevertheless, all such services must comply with Ofcom regulations requiring call costs to be stated immediately alongside such premium rate numbers, but many fail to do so.


Advice

Avoid websites offering premium rate numbers starting 084, 087 or 09. These numbers are unlikely to be genuine.

Look on official websites for numbers starting 01, 02, 03 or 080. Most reputable organisations now use these numbers.


Where to complain

If you feel you have been misled into using a Call Connection Service, or simply see a site that appears to be misleading, complaints about regulated services using 087 and 09 numbers should be directed to PSA. For complaints about services using 084 numbers, complaints should be directed to ASA.

Only when there are complaints is any action taken.


Additional Information


UPDATE

An updated version of this post can be found at
https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=6084948
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