Following considerable work by Ofcom the way 0845 numbers are charged changed at the start of July 2015. The communication for this is through a separate website and communication process known as UK Calling.
From 1 July 2015, the cost of calling 0845 numbers has been split into two separate parts;
The access charge: This is what a provider will charge you, per minute, for connecting the call.
The service charge: This is the remainder of the call charge. The organisation you are calling decides the service charge, and must communicate it. For example, if the service charge was 50p per minute, the organisation you are calling might decide to say “Calls cost 50p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge”.
Now whilst the access charge will vary dramatically across providers, and there are sixteen different ones listed on the Ofcom website, the access charge will vary between absolutely nothing and 7p per minute.
The key here is that providers must tell you before you make the call what they are going to charge you so that you know roughly how much you will pay to make your call.
We still feel this is an unacceptable state of affairs as far too many firms are using these 084 numbers to drive revenues from their customers. The worst offenders are those who put technical help or support lines on the numbers then expect you to pay 15-20p a minute to stay on the phone.
Even worse in our opinion are the Utility Companies who still persist in this practice and make money from your misery. The queues are so bad in most cases that if, for example, you search for “customer services number for eon” you will see the first result has a description that reads “We’re sorry – we’re currently receiving a lot of calls, which may mean long waits.”
Many of them now have a ‘place in the queue’ ring back system but far too many of us want the problem sorting straight away so hang on the phone. Making money from your own inability to handle people’s calls is just wrong. The worse you are the more money you make and that just can’t be right.
There’s still a long way to go before using 0845 numbers gives the user experience most of us would want and expect.