Thursday, 27 January 2011

The great phone rip-off

As in, I presume, all other countries, the UK is divided into areas each with its own telephone dialling code. These all start with the numeral 0 so that the automatic equipment can differentiate between a call to an area outside the local one where no dialling code is required. All geographical codes start with either 01 or 02 but there are numbers starting 03, 07, 08 and 09. These are known as non-geographical codes. 07 numbers are all mobile phone numbers and I'm not too sure just what the 03 and 09 numbers are - there are very few of them around anyway.

The 08 numbers are themselves divided into several classes. 0800 numbers are free to the caller, probably because the subscribers to whom they are allocated are happy to pay for calls received. 0845 numbers are charged as local calls no matter whereabouts in the country the call id coming from or going to. This is convenient for many people but is also irritating to just as many who are on tariffs which allow free local calls except for non-geographic numbers. As I said earlier, all numbers other than those starting 01 and 02 are non-geographic. There is a web site where one can find the geographic equivalent of 08 numbers but not all of them have been listed there - usually the ones I want!

Somebody in the Lions Multiple District persuaded British telecom to allow every Lions Club to have an 0845 number free of charge with the calls being diverted to any number the club proposed. This is a useful facility, especially as the number to which calls are diverted can be changed at fairly short notice. It means that clubs can announce a number that never becomes out of date and it also means that each club is listed in Yellow Pages (not the white pages) so members of the public can trace there local club quite easily.

Brighton Lions' 0845 number diverts to a second line I have with my broadband package and I have an answering machine on it so calls to the Lions are kept separate from calls to our usual number. But why is it, I wonder, that about 90% of the calls on the Lions' number are for other clubs? Do callers look in Yellow Pages and just call the first number they see? Or do they just Google ‘Lions' and have our club come up before any other? I don't like to ask callers how they found the number - but perhaps I should.

It is the 0870 and 0871 numbers that I dislike. These are premium rate numbers and calls to them are charged to the caller at a higher rate than the standard numbers with the recipient of the calls getting a cut from the telephone company. Typically these are used by television companies or newspapers for competition entries. But there are plenty of other users who, in my opinion, should not be. They include tourist information offices and the visa departments of various embassies. But the worst are mail order companies who have the nerve to charge buyers just for placing orders. Then they charge post and packing on top of the asking price. Now that really is a rip-off.

1 comment:

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

On at least two occasions I've had Lions Club related phone calls from folks who were referred by social service agencies. One was in Ohio, the other in South Carolina.