It is disappointing that some BBC local radio stations are still using expensive 0845 numbers for contact from their listeners - see the list compiled today.
Noting the further price rise announcement from BT today, we offer a briefing and comment on a rip-off that has long been in place and will now have a greater impact.
According to figures from the DWP, there could be around 5 million of its claimants, mostly pensioners, who are already paying too much to BT for their telephone calls to ordinary numbers.
We today publish an updated briefing on cases of companies that appear to remain in breach of the Consumer Contract Regulations two months after they came into force on 13 June 2014.
The briefing identifies prominent examples of how alleged compliance may be mistaken.
Further to the previous blogging, we now publish a list of the NHS Bodies (and their contractors) in England that still remain in breach of the Directions issued by the Department of Health on 21 December 2009.
Addendum - 7 Aug 2014
Please note that the previously published list of 350 GPs must be supplemented by those who do not declare their breach of contract on NHS Choices - see these examples.
An item on You and Yours today covered the issues and a case of a practice which had misunderstood the requirements and unnecessarily incurred costs as a result of terminating its telephone service contract early.
The fair telecoms campaign has long been pressing for prohibition of the use of expensive numbers in a number of areas, where such regulation is possible. Some success has been achieved:
THE BIG FAILURE - Use by NHS GPs and NHS bodies
GP contract changes were introduced and guidance was issued to NHS bodies in 2010. This should have led to the end of use of expensive numbers to access NHS services in England and Wales no later than 1 April 2011. Compliance has however been very poor and enforcement action non-existent.
Whilst central government departments are being seen to comply with the directions from the Cabinet Office, issued on Boxing Day 2013, there has been no mechanism for ensuring that other public bodies follow the same rules - as for them it is only "Guidance".
As part of our efforts to "spread the word", we publish here an annotated copy of the Guidance which we will draw to the attention of non-departmental bodies, local government and the devolved national governments. We encourage all supporters of the campaign to use this as part of their efforts to rid the public sector of improperly used 084 and 087 numbers. Please refer on the short url - http://tiny.cc/FT_public_bodies_guidance.
We also draw attention to the useful comments made on the use of 080 numbers. Whilst many may benefit from the opportunity to make a call without charge, this will not be possible until June 2015, when 080 numbers become "freephone". Furthermore, as the overwhelming majority of calls to 03 numbers are made without charge, the major beneficiaries from use of 080 numbers are the telephone companies - as they charge for every call.
On the morning of the day when new regulations prohibiting use of expensive numbers for telephone contact from customers come into force, we offer a briefing on the revolution of which this is a leading part.
Very many traders have, from today, joined others by switching from expensive 084/087 to "basic rate" numbers - commonly the equivalent 034/037 number.
This is a quiet revolution because organisations may be shy about being shamed into stopping a consumer rip-off by a necessary regulation, which is derived from a EU directive.
The briefing explains and provides links to the relevant legislation. It also includes examples of those who have joined the revolution, failed to understand it and appear not to be complying.
This follows an earlier news release and briefing.
We reported in November 2013 on a letter sent by NHS England to its Area Teams, to be forwarded to all GPs. (See "Eliminating 084 numbers from GPs in England - 2013/4")
The letter confirmed the overdue need to swiftly comply with the terms of the NHS/GP contract by ceasing use of 084 telephone numbers - a requirement which should have been met by 1 April 2011. It also required advice of the date by which compliance would be achieved.
Despite the fact that 12 months was granted for this work to be done initially (from 1 April 2010 to 1 April 2011), it should only take a few weeks, at the most.
In February 2014 we advised that the work of achieving compliance had not been completed and suggested actions that may have helped to avoid GPs entering their 5th year in breach of contract - on 1 April 2014. (See "NHS GPs in England set to enter 5th year in breach of contract - THIS MUST BE STOPPED".)
We are therefore disappointed to have to report the problem as remaining un-addressed.
See our new briefing -
The number of found cases has fallen from 440 to 419, but this would be fully explained by those who reach the end of an arrangement not renewing. The NHS contractual requirement clearly demanded a switch of number within an arrangement - a possibility explicitly confirmed as being available within the text of the November 2013 letter.
It may also be noted that NHS England has failed to advise the position regarding the timetable for compliance - as demanded to be provided to the Area Teams.
We believe that the fundamental principles of the NHS warrant support and clear enforcement action. We continue to assist NHS England by drawing attention to the issue and have offered such further assistance as may be valuable.
On 13 December 2013, the government advised that it had taken action to end use of expensive telephone numbers for enquiries and complaints from customers.
← Click the image to read the news release
The deadline of 13 June 2014 had long been known as the latest date by which the provisions of the EU Consumer Rights Directive had to be incorporated in law, so this confirmed a period of 6 months in which the final stages of the elimination of costly calls could be completed.
With 6 weeks left to go, we note two major omissions from attainment of the government objective:
There must now be doubt about whether traders will be ready to comply with the law in time.
See below a briefing listing over 300 well known brand names which currently stand in breach of the forthcoming regulations.