Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Expensive phone lines

Expensive phone lines? No, I’m not referring to those for
porn chat lines … I’m referring to those with the prefixes
08457 and 0807, where the businesses that use them make money
out of callers while they’re kept waiting to be served.

“All our lines are busy at the moment.” “There is currently
a wait of ……… 5 minutes … before we will be able to answer
your call. You may wish to call back at a less busy time”.
“Your call is important to us” … i.e. your money is important
to us … or the long rigmarole of selecting the right
department to answer your call, by keying in a succession of
numbers, that you’ll all be familiar with. Even worse is where
the company cuts you off if they’re too busy … “Please phone
back at another time”, and the line goes dead. Another
practice is where they often put in some advertising of one of
their services, while you’re waiting … and you are paying to
listen to it

Don’t you find it irritating, to put it mildly?

A few weeks ago, someone wrote into The Guardian and
suggested searching online to find a cheaper phone number for a
large business. These are often published for people phoning
from abroad.

So if you see phone numbers for London with the prefix +44 207
or +44 208, simply use a 0 instead of the +44.

This worked very well when I contacted National Insurance
about my voluntary pension contributions recently. I got
through to the help desk in record time, but the guy at the
other end was very puzzled as to why I wasn’t calling from
abroad. Perhaps I should have said that I was living in Costa
del Nottingham? Given how the climate is changing here in the
East Midlands, it won’t be long before we’ll be growing
orange, lemon, olive and palm trees … so we won’t have to fly
to Southern Spain or the French Riviera for some decent
sunshine … we’ll enjoy the sunshine here instead.

Sorry to ramble on, but to come back to phone lines again,
I’m always pleased to see a Freephone number, even though the
costs for this are passed on to the customer in the end. I was
amazed how good the service was when I phoned up the BT
Business Phone and Broadband service in the last week or so.
As their lines were busy I was invited to leave my phone number
for a call back from one of their sales staff, which they did
within a few minutes. I phoned them again yesterday for some
advice on free webspace (BT offers 20MB of free webspace with a
business phone line), and was put through to their technical
help desk free of charge – the the people I spoke to were very
helpful and friendly. Brilliant. As you will know BT is fairly
expensive compared with some of the other phone companies, but
it confirms in my mind and from reading a lot of comparative
reports in the press and online, the impression that you get
the service you pay for. BTW, I haven’t got shares in BT.

One Freephone number you might be interested to have was sent
in to The Guardian letters page just over a week ago … for the
TV licensing people. Instead of paying for an 0870 number, you
could try this one instead … O800 0850 133.


Blogger angel said...

oooer, lots of south african companies do the same "adverts while you hold" thing, especially the banks!
only problem is they don't have any other number you can use!

12:05 PM  
Blogger justin said...

yes, it's damned annoying, Angel.

11:57 PM  

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