I was on BBC Breakfast News yesterday commenting on a company that had been fined a record £800,000 by Phonepayplus – the premium rate phone regulator – for misleading advertising and getting customers to rack-up obscene phone bills with their competition lines.
They took action against the premium rate line competitions run by Churchcastle Ltd, which were widely advertised in newspapers and magazines nationwide. These competitions were followed up by misleading direct mail marketing that encouraged consumers, many of whom were elderly, to continue to engage with the premium rate service, often at considerable expense.
I don’t like premium rate numbers AT ALL. Other than specialist, professional advice lines, I can’t see a good reason to have them. They’re just a way for dodgy companies to make money out of vulnerable people. I have a friend, for example, who has wasted thousands on a dodgy clairvoyant line that charged ££££s per minute for their ‘service.
It’s like the nasty spam texts I talked about in my ‘stop spam texts’ blog here they’re a public nuisance and should be blocked, I consider.
Even 0870 numbers and 0845 numbers annoy me. I always look for the landline or freephone alternative on Saynoto0870.com.
It’s tricky to know how much different types of numbers charge too. On the Phonepayplus website they explain here:
Mobile text shortcode numbers are five and six-digit numbers, which usually begin with 5, 6, 7 or 8. You can send texts to these numbers to donate to charity, to enter competitions and to download games and ringtones.
Calls to directory enquiries vary in price depending on the directory enquiry service you call and the phone network you call from.
From a landline calls cost a fixed one-off charge of between 20p and £2.00 for one or more searches, plus 35p to £1.65 per minute.
From a mobile some networks charge a fixed one-off charge of between 61p and £2.55, plus around 61p to £2.55 per minute. Other networks charge on a per minute basis with calls costing around £1.50 to £2.04 per minute.
The person receiving a reverse call pays for it instead of the person dialling the number. 0800 reverse is free to dial from landlines and from Vodafone, Orange, O2, Tesco, 3 and T-Mobile mobile networks.
0871, 0872 or 0873
These numbers are normally used for customer service lines, such as technical support lines, chat lines, tarot/horoscope lines and sales/booking lines.
The pricing for these numbers must be clearly explained. If you’re put in a queuing system, you must be told your place in the queue or roughly how long you’ll wait to speak to someone.
Calls to 0871, 0872 or 0873 numbers cost between 5p and 12.5p from landlines and between 25p and 41p per minute from mobiles.
These numbers are mainly used for competitions, TV voting, horoscopes, chat lines, adult lines and professional service lines.
Calls to 090 numbers cost between 10p and £1.65 per minutes from a landline but can cost up to £2.55 per minute from a mobile.
See – quite confusing and, overall, expensive!
If I were you I would avoid ALL of these types of numbers (including 118 as you can usually find numbers online) and just remind yourself that if a company has to offer one of these high-priced numbers, they’re probably not worth bothering with in the first place!