Say No To 0870.
November 12, 2004 4:41 AM   Subscribe

Say No To 0870. In the UK, many companies use 'non-geographical alternative telephone numbers' (e.g. those prefixed '0870') and they seem to be especially popular for customer service lines where you may be hanging on the line for a while. Companies get a cut of the call fee. Unfortunately, despite being advertised as national rate, consumers can't take advantage of free minutes included in their telephone packages as the numbers don't qualify. Say No to 0870 has a searchable database of alternative, geographical numbers to contact companies at reduced rates. [via Money Saving Expert]
posted by i_cola (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A couple of months ago I spent about an hour and a half and over six pounds on an 0870 call to Apple Customer Support. This morning, using the number gleaned from the database, I spent 3p on a 20 minute call to them using a free call contract I have. The 3p was a connection charge.
posted by i_cola at 4:43 AM on November 12, 2004

'tis quite the racket.

Personally, I want to see a campaign to sort out directory enquiries. Every single one of the 'new and improved' 192/118 services are demonstrably useless, and cost a fortune. I phoned two different directory enquiry services today to try and get the phone number of the company I'm currently working for (a major, established media company in London), and neither gave me the correct number, despite the company being in the phone book. Of course, I will have been charged an outrageous amount of money for the privelege, as I had the audacity to use a mobile phone.

All of this stuff is utterly outrageous - it's all designed to syphon as much money as possible out of punters, while providing the bare minimum service, at best. About time the OFT, or whoever, did something about it - not that that's likely to happen.
posted by influx at 4:49 AM on November 12, 2004

Nice site - is there a US equivalent [besides consumer reports!]?
posted by yoga at 4:54 AM on November 12, 2004

In the last ten minutes there was a feature on the 0870 problem on BBC Radio 4. Spooky!
posted by DrDoberman at 4:54 AM on November 12, 2004

Every single one of the 'new and improved' 192/118 services are demonstrably useless

What, even BT, who have only changed the number you call?
posted by fullerine at 4:57 AM on November 12, 2004

What, even BT, who have only changed the number you call?

Why would BT changing their directory enquiries number make their piss poor offering of a service any less useless than it was previously?
posted by DrDoberman at 5:24 AM on November 12, 2004

I'm stuck with an 0870 number as my personal number because my university accomodation has a deal going with some phone company. I don't like to think how much it costs people to call me...
posted by Orange Goblin at 5:45 AM on November 12, 2004

As far as I can make out, BT's Directory Enquiries has somehow got much, much worse. I don't remember ever having such confusing calls previously, where the monkey on the other end gives me a number for somewhere in the Isle of Sheppey, rather than Shepherd's Bush, like this morning. It's all quite baffling. I can only assume that there were changes to the database during the privatisation process. Witness the march of progress.
posted by influx at 5:46 AM on November 12, 2004

My girlfriend was staying in a university residence in London this summer -- one with an 0870 number, like Orange Goblin mentioned.

Some calling cards I tried wouldn't even connect to the number due to the high cost (calling from Canada), and the ones that did charged between $.50 and $1 per minute. Needless to say, there was not much phone calling!

Standard UK phone numbers are generally about $0.06 per minute from Canada.
posted by krunk at 5:54 AM on November 12, 2004

Heh, that's pretty cool. Cheers ballbag.
posted by ed\26h at 5:58 AM on November 12, 2004

Orange Goblin: I worked on the design for some student telephone system marketing a few years ago & I thought some of the rates were a bit of a rip-off and that was without 0870 call-in rates.

How do people call you from outside the UK? Either it isn't possible or there is a special number which you can adapt? e.g. +44 20 7xxx xxxx becomes 020 7xxx xxxx

A lot of places (e.g. banks) give out alternative 'Access from overseas' numbers which can be used as above by replaceing the international access code with a '0'
posted by i_cola at 6:01 AM on November 12, 2004

I have no idea how people call me from outside the UK. Here is the company that runs the phones.
posted by Orange Goblin at 7:19 AM on November 12, 2004

As someone from the U.S. who is used to toll-free numbers for everything, the concept of paying a company to talk to their customer service people makes me blanch. It actually gives them an incentive to keep me on hold even longer!

Some companies even use premium rate numbers (i.e. U.S. 900 numbers) to punish their customers for calling at all. If I'm paying you 40p a minute to take my call, you better not keep me on hold while you're billing me! Needless to say, I don't deal with those companies.
posted by grouse at 8:00 AM on November 12, 2004

We have a similar system in the Netherlands. It drives me up the wall - when my Internet connection breaks down, I have to pay good money to report it. It's irritating enough to be left on hold for long periods of time, but it is incredibly frustrating to also be paying ten cents a minute for it.
posted by different at 8:11 AM on November 12, 2004

The new directory enquiries services are especially hilarious in Glasgow - where the accent is thick as tar, and the placenames are derived from the gaelic, so lots of cattarhy ch's in there. All too often do I hear people venting their frustration as some poor wee Indian tries to make out drumndrcccchhht, shetulson or barlanar'.
posted by bonaldi at 8:41 AM on November 12, 2004

Orange Goblin, if you're at Loughborough uni, check out this thread
posted by r1ch at 1:02 PM on November 12, 2004

I thought this was an interesting FPP.

However, my sense is that if someone made a post about a similar situation that was limited to the US phone system only, everyone would be all "Thanks for the USFilter, douchebag!" (videlicet the recent uproar over the FPP about a sudden, dramatic change in the US banking system).

Just making a request for an update on the gander/goose sauce status--I like reading about things that only effect the UK/Canada/the Netherlands/Vanuatu/Whereverstan myself, even though I live in the US, so you won't see me saying "UKFilter" here.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:52 PM on November 12, 2004

And by "effect" above, I of course mean "affect". Apparently I was posting on IdiotFilter.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:53 PM on November 12, 2004

Thanks for this i_cola.
posted by Blue Stone at 1:06 PM on November 13, 2004

I'm not familiar with the UK phone system. Can anybody explain what a US equivalent to 0870 might be? It sounds like these are similar to our 900 numbers, in that they cost the caller over and above the usual long-distance fees. Does that sound accurate?
posted by etoile at 2:55 PM on November 13, 2004

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