Ofcom has proposed simplifying non-geographic codes, making calls to 0800 numbers free from mobiles and finally bringing an end to the insanity of 0845 number usage. The proposals are complicated and present several options over their 482 pages, but the idea is to have all numbers that begin with 01, 02 or 03 to be defined by …
Surely 0870 are non-local?
0845 were local calls. 0870 were charged at the national rate, and the companies using them got a cut. Which lead to the ludicrous situation where to contact a local Carphone Warehouse you had to pay a national rate. They answered the call immediately with an automated menu system then kept you hanging on for 20 minutes paying them for the privilege.
That all went away in the mid 2000s, after distance based charging fizzled away, most notably when BT kicked all its "BT Standard" plan customers off onto plans that didn't charge depending on how far away the other person is.
"Local rate" and "National rate" made sense before this, for obvious reasons. But after that, it became an anachronism.
I'm not sure if it was a regulation (assuming that Ofcom does anything approaching regulation these days) or simply public opinion, but it seems that companies have stopped hiding behind those terms and instead tell you what BT charge to call those numbers. Makes a lot more sense.
That's easy to fix
What we want is for Ofcom to include another little goodie in its package - that time spent in a queue, or listening to waffle about press 1 for this, 2 for that ad nauseam, is charged not to the customer, but the company who has set up its system. Advantages: (a) cheaper for the consumer, and (b) should speed up the whole process of getting to actually talk to a human, as companies seek to minimise queueing times and option system complexity.
There should be a flying pig icon available, like there are in some other fora I belong to.
Since they are local and national rate numbers
They should cost the same as a local or national rate number, and that includes your free minutes.
This means it should now be cheaper to call the fire brigade at 01189998819991197253.
Anyone who does not get the reference hand in your cards on the way out.... :D
"...no one is going to put three pound signs beside an invitation to call....."
...wouldn't it be great if they *had* to? C'mon Ofcom, stick your fingers in your ears to silence the objections from the sheep-shearing industry and implement it!
Notice how they intend to keep some premium rate numbers (ones where you are overcharged, rates above the comms cost) but describe them as "business rates". The name predetermines the policy. The disadvantage to the punter is that these codes allow queueing, pay to hear some plinkety plink because your call is imporant to us, so why don't you answer it then? Shove those onto 09 for the same price and queueing would be banned.
saynoto0870 will live on.
Oh dear god, not again!
That is all
Oh Hnag on, isnt it time we utterly shagged up normal phone numbers again?
070 Personal Numbering
Can they get rid of 070 personal numbering numbers?!
They are far too similar to mobile numbers but tend to cost at least 60p per minute, £2 per min in some cases. Even more when calling from a mobile phone under the false assumption that the call will be included in your free minutes!
070 scam magnets
Scammers just love 070 redirect/ personal numbers as many services will terminate the call in any country you please, yet it gives the appearance of being a UK mobile number. They are massively popular with West African (prominently) scammers, especially th gumtree/ Craig list room for rent/ pet scammers.
Re: 070 scam magnets
Too right... The stupid thing is, their last reorganisation (the 01 geographic prefix etc - which arrived shortly after everyone had had their business cards reprinted to change their 01 London number to 071/081 requiring them to head to the printers again to get 0171/0181 instead) was supposed to clear up just this kind of mess. Mobiles started 08, and so did a lot of premium rate numbers like the infamous 0898. So mobiles and pagers got 07... Unfortunately they defined this not as "mobile phones" but "mobile services", which allowed 070 through the door. Not an issue, but they also allowed the cost of 070 to vary wildly!
I really don't know what they were thinking, or if they were thinking at all.
At the time I was working for a company that, amongst other things, did telephone call logging, so keeping our charging structure database up to date really revealed what a complete mess it quickly became.
Hopefully this time they will show some sense... Then again, if they had any sense wouldn't they have a structure that indicated the level of rip-off the particular charging model is?
090nn - Under 10p a min
091nn - 10 - 19p a min
092nn - 20 - 29p a min
etc etc. You could even use the next digit to indicate the price to the pence level.
Seriously greedy rates can be bundled up at 099nn, which nobody in their right mind would ever call. Then again, x-factor viewers are clearly not in their right mind.
What does worry me already is that their proposed numbering scheme already shows gaps in the 08nn range, and you know what happens to gaps in numbering scheme? Someone sticks something in there without much thought and planning, which is exactly how the variable charging 070 range came to look like a mobile.
Fail? Because the 01 geographic location prefix and 07 mobile prefix were supposed to clear up the mess and confusion, and here they are trying to clear up the mess and confusion they created with that!
Oh well, with luck someone will invent a business card with wireless enabled dynamic ink and we'll be able to keep them up to date via an RSS feed.
"Service charge" for NHS Direct, HMRC and DWP
The key element of the Ofcom announcement is the revelation that the 0844 and 0845 numbers used by NHS providers and other public bodies are "business rate" numbers. In exactly the same way as with calls to the X-Factor, the rate for calling them includes a "service charge" which Ofcom wishes to see declared separately. See my media release at bit.ly/gGDmRN.
While this is a massive step in the right direction for consumers... I'm a little wary of "Business Rate"... Unless as CM suggests call queueing is banned.
I've had many an arguement online where I've refused to accept the correction that 084x and 087x numbers aren't premium numbers. I have to pay a premium to dial those numbers, so they are premium numbers however they are officially designated.
Why not just have "Geographic", "Mobile", "Free", "Premium". We don't need more as consumers.
And +1 for TeeCee - I'd actually get part way to respecting the toothless quango if they legislated that the £££ symbol be mandatory.
Amazing....this seems to actually make some sort of sense, have I wandered into a strange universe
"You can rely upon Ofcom to do the right thing eventually (but only after they have explored all of the other possibilites").
Actually I think that was said about some other organisation entirely, but it seems apposite.
Ofcom making sense
Don't worry, it's the same universe. Ofcom do actually come up with good ideas - occasionally.
However, they then tend to ignore or reject these ideas before putting into practice.
Believe it or not the old system made sense when it came out too! Unfortunately the "common sense numerical assignment team" only seem to meet every 10 years, and inbetween times the number scheme is maintained by a team of retarded hamsters with only a single GCSE in domestic science between them.
Leaving gaps in the numbering scheme, such as the free space in the 08 range, is just giving the aforementioned hamsters far too much room to play and make a complete f*cking mess.
I'll see you all back here in a similar thread in about 10-15 years time.
I think it was Churchill...
...on the Americans.
Oh OFCOM, how could you get your own telephone numbers wrong. The whole "080" range is free phone (not just 0800). http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/oftel/ind_info/numbering/numbering_bulletins/nb40.htm#08%20Sub-Ranges%20for%20New%20NTS%20Arrangements
"allowing companies to replace those numbers"
"allowing companies to replace those [084/087] numbers with 03 equivalents"
They're already allowed to. They should be forced to. It should be illegal to use a number that costs over the odds for customer service, after-sales, support, reservations, or anything else except phone sex & horoscopes.
0845 numbers can be just fine...
> It should be illegal to use a number that costs over the odds for customer service
I'd agree - but many (all?) 0845 numbers don't fit that description.
The phone number on all my business stationery is an 0845 number, but I make nothing from it. It would be incorrect to consider this a "premium" number - it's simply a non-geographic. I got it in an attempt to give everyone in the country a local number to call me on - now it seems that Ofcom are going to label that as a scam :-(
I also have on 03 number - but I find many people do not want to ring numbers starting in 03, as they don't know what they are, and suspect a scam...
 Yes, I have registered an equivalent geographic number at SayNoTo0870...
up to 40p my ar*e
More like from 40p upwards to phone an 0800 no from a mobile.
My last provider (Vodafone) was charging 65p, and it took quite a long time to find that out as they would only say it was "my standard rate" - but finding out what your full fat standard rate is for out of bundle calls is not easy otherwise we would be able to compare phone tarriffs.
(Just FYI, my standard rate to call my folks landline in Spain, is a whopping £1 per minute, proving that routing a call in the EU costs them almost as much as calling the moon)
On the subject of rates, isn't it about time Britain got rid of the surcharge on mobile calls? I can call any landline in Britain from the US for 2 cents a minute, but mobiles cost me 25 cents. I'm really quite surprised this outrageous mobile rip-off has survived for so long without attracting either a torch-wielding mob or the attention of those nice chaps in Brussels. It must have repaid the cost of the infrastructure many times over by now.
different charging models
We do not pay to receive calls over here, so the cost of mobile delivery has to be picked up by someone. I can buy a SIM card for 99p and receive calls for free on it only paying for calls I make. As to whether the companies have paid of the capital investment or paid dividends to shareholders is down to the company involved, and some have higher termination charges than others. But seeing as just about every country but the USA users the caller pays model, I can't imagine the EU racing to change the whole charging infrastructure for European telecommunications just to suit the USA.
Isn't the rip off actually on the US's side with people paying for incoming calls? Kinda doesnt seem fair to have to pay cos some annoying telemarketer decided to call?
You should try Telstra pre-paid...
G'day mate, thanks for putting money on your account. It isn't actually your money since you gave it to us. I know, we tell you it's money when you check your balance, but it's now our money, and you haven't spent it fast enough, so you don't deserve to benefit from it. We're taking it off you.
Oh yes, since you don't have any money left in your account after we took it all, you can't make any calls, so you don't need a phone, do you? So we've cut you off.
several years ago i worked on a desk with an 0800 number where we made/received a lot of calls to mobile users, officially the 0800 number was the only number for that desk but the implementation was a redirect to a geographic number which i was happy to give to anyone who wanted it (official company policy was that the 0800 was the only number we had, unofficially they didn't mind me saving both them and the customers money)
several customers who called regularly from their mobiles i actively offered the geographic alternative but most were clearly under the impression that 0800 numbers were included in their 'free minutes' (at the time none of the mobile networks did) was easier to just say "ok" and let them waste their money rather than potentially annoy them by correcting them, but i did find it kind of odd as the ones i offered the alternative number to were frequent callers therefore should have noticed the costs on their previous bills!
I think the distinction between 084x and 09x is about right.
There's a world of difference between paying 5p a minute and £2 a minute. Many people bar 09 numbers from their home phone lines, but barring 084x would mean people can't call some fairly ordinary and essential numbers from home.
I think we might need 084x and 087x to be included in bundles at a standard rate across operators - but that will need some changes to termination agreements between companies and might result in a small increase in cost overall.
not so wow
"Amazing....this seems to actually make some sort of sense, have I wandered into a strange universe"
Not really - you have to take into account it's taken ofcom eleventy-plus years to sort this out. I remember having discussions with them in the early days of 0898 numbers.
And again when mobile number portability became the rule.
Re. Almost there
"Why not just have "Geographic", "Mobile", "Free", "Premium". We don't need more as consumers."
Because 0300 numbers are non-geographic but normal rate so don't fall into any of those categories. Also there's a difference between normal ker-ching numbers and BIG KERRRRRR_CHING! numbers.
Free from a land line ?
I'm still waiting for 0800 numbers to be free from my land line.
"They already are!" I hear you say - but not so from Virgin Media. They may be free per minute but there is an initial cost to connect the call, can't remember off hand but it's something like 8.9p.
Still, why differentiate 'geographic' from 'mobile'? This isn't done in North America; when you get a cellphone you just get a number for the geographic area you bought it. There doesn't seem any particular rationale in separating out mobile numbers. It's just a phone.
(of course, in North America, you don't pay different rates to call mobile phones vs. landlines. Which is also nice.)
But the receiver if the call pays a contribution to the cost if the call, not so over here, you can call me all day and it won't cost me a thing, and I don't run out of package minutes etc.
...has always seemed weirdly arbitrary to me, and results in those annoying cheapskates who refuse to top up their fucking phones and try to make you call them all the time. Could Live Without.
Anyone who's sane doesn't actually pay per minute for airtime, incoming or outgoing, on an NA cell plan anyway. You just get a plan that has enough minutes, or free times (calls are usually free on evenings and weekends), or a big enough 'friends list' feature, to cover all the people you actually call / who call you.
Besides, that issue is pretty much orthogonal to the issue of whether you separate geographical and mobile numbers. There's no reason you suddenly have to switch to a paid-incoming-calls model if you switch to a geographical-cell-numbers model, after all. I wasn't playing the US vs UK Cellphone Plan game, just pointing out that distinguishing between 'mobile' and 'geographical' numbers, and making you pay more to call mobile numbers, isn't particularly necessary.
Obligatory title here
The day I have to pay to receive a call is the day I stop answering my phone.
So its apparently more sane to lock in a higher tarrif every month and pay for something you might not use "Just in case", and can't directly influence (I mean you can't force those annoying salesblokes to call you to use up those minutes, or force them not to call if you're out)?
At least when its only O/g calls you pay for, you are in 100% direct control of it.
Nothing is free, except in Utopias (and Star Trek).
"...calls to 0800 numbers are free for the caller only because they are paid for by the company receiving the call, who will have to pay more to receive the call over a mobile network."
Yeah, but nobody gives a shit while it's consumers paying "up to 40 pence a minute". Once businesses start having to pay ("it's affecting our competitiveness") prices will fall.
Good on 'em to Offcom, and +1 to TeeCee as well.
Rip off call charges...
I hate companies which only advertise 084/087 numbers, they aren't forced to declare that they actually derive revenue from these numbers and it gives them incentive to keep you on hold. I will actively avoid companies who only publish 084/087 numbers and if i can't, i will try to find proper numbers to call using the saynoto0870 website or similar...
As for 0800 numbers being expensive from mobiles, this is utterly ridiculous as it stands... It cannot possibly cost the telco more to terminate an 0800 number than it does a normal 01/02/03 geographical number, therefore even if these numbers are not free they should be charged at the same rate as regular geographical numbers (and come out of your allowance etc).
"As for 0800 numbers being expensive from mobiles, this is utterly ridiculous as it stands... It cannot possibly cost the telco more to terminate an 0800 number than it does a normal 01/02/03 geographical number,"
It does cost more. There is no vertically integrated operator in the UK with mobile, fixed and wholesale networks. What that means is that companies pay each other for handling calls. The flow of money for an 0800 call (service provider charges something like 10p a minute, keeps some for profit and passes the rest on to the wholesale operator who keeps some and passes the rest on to the telephone provider of the person dialling the 0800 number) breaks down with mobile calls as the cost of the mobile call is too high. The person buying the 0800 service won't pay more, so the only option to balance the books is to charge the person dialling the number.
7/10 - Good effort
Not a bad effort by OFCOM. However, why can't they take things further.
Firstly: Whilst we're at it, can we not simply 118xxx ? Has anyone looked at the tariff pages for Directory Enquiries ? (Hint:
Secondly: Can we clean up 07 numbers ? The range of different charges/uses for across the whole dial-plan is just as bad as the 118 dial plan.
Oh, I could go on about the UK dial plan, but I'll leave it there for now.
Geographic numbers are a daft idea.
The whole principle of 'geographic' numbers is today dead as a do-do, and should be abandoned: it's completely meaningless in these days of mobiles and IP telephony: long gone are the days when you could reliably omit the area-code if you were calling someone who lives down the street.
"Network numbering" for mobiles has also gone by the wayside through number-portability, so "free calls/texts from your mobile to other people on the XYZ network" is equally meaningless.
The only real differentiation that anyone cares about now is having some indication of likely call-cost easily derivable from the number. And that's not exactly easy to work out unless you know your service-provider's interconnect-charge policy as well as the number you are calling.
So, honestly, the entire thing's a mess - but outside the premium-rate stuff, does anyone really worry about the per-minute costs of a call? Compared to the days of the old nationalised Post Office Telephones, phone-calls today cost peanuts.
(Yes I can rememebr the old Buzby-thing about "it's cheaper to call after six or at weekends", to which some wag invariably added "or from the office...")
did they manage to write four hundred and eighty two pages on the subject????
More public money being wasted.
Is there any chance ofcom can stop fucking around with telephone numbers?
This will be the 4th number change for London in 20 years!?? And everytime we get told "won't happen again anytime soon". FFS.
Despite a motto of "there's no such thing as bad publicity"
OFCOM are still utterly, utterly useless.
Why hasn't Cameron neutered them yet? Just like he promised. Oh, he was just moving his lips...
Don't worry Andrew :-)
Ofcom will return to it's senses.
If not immediately then by Government, Whitehall or industry sector (or combinations of all three) prompt, promptings, nudges, indirect influence or failing those direct influence.
Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible
On the other hand ...
Queuing systems should be forced to tell you where you are in the queue
That is all.
and you should not start paying till you are talking to a human (preferably on the same continent)
Now _that's_ a thought. All calls to out-of-country helpdesks should be free. Then you would be paying what they are worth!
queuing systems should be forced to stop charging you
or even better made to credit your number at the same rate thsy would otherwise have charged you !
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