Irish News of the World
Sunday March 29th, 2009
Say No To 1890, 1850 and 0818 Call Costs
If you find yourself dialling an 1890 or 1850 number for a company, then you’re the one who should really be getting the wake up call.
Despite being called Lo-Call or Call Save numbers, you could find yourself paying up to 49c per minute to make a call that’s normally advertised as 5c per minute.
And worse, if you’re calling an 0818 number, then the company on the other end of the line are actually making money from your call. So, for these companies, it’s financially worth their while to keep you on the phone as long as possible, even if you’re making a complaint.
Lo Call and Call Save numbers were originally set up before mobiles came along to give consumers a number that would cost the same to call no matter where they were in the country compared to the location of the company.
But with the advent of mobile phones, and inclusive minute bundles on both landlines and mobile packages, they’re really just an excuse for the telecoms companies to print money.
This is done by excluding calls made to these numbers from your inclusive minute bundles you have with your phone contract – you basically pay extra from these calls no matter how many “free” minutes you get every month. And if you’re calling from a mobile phone, your Lo Call or Call Save number will cost you up to 9 times more than from a land line.
With the massive growth in the use of mobile phones in Ireland since these numbers were originally set up, less and less of us are making any calls from landlines. So more and more of us are getting stung by these ridiculous call charges, greatly adding to the mobile phone company profits.
It’s a poor show for many Irish companies and the customer service they provide when many don’t seem to realise the cost to their customers by only providing 1890 or 1850 contact numbers. And obviously, for companies providing 0818 numbers, they’re consciously trying to make an extra buck when you call them – taking a cut of the outrageous costs charged by the mobile companies.
And what’s worse, even though this country is riddled with regulators and government and so-called independent watchdogs, no one wants to know about this blatant rip off.
In the past, I’ve made complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland, but they don’t want to know. They tell me to speak to ComReg who say it’s nothing to do with them. The National Consumer Agency say it’s nothing to do with them and pawn you off on the Competition Authority or the Consumers Association of Ireland. They merely published a letter in their magazine, while the Competition people said that there’s nothing for them to investigate.
Fine Gael have recently highlight the issue with these Lo Call and Call Save numbers – and in particular, highlighting the fact that many Government departments only providing these contact numbers.
So what can you do?
SayNoTo1890.com is a website set up to provide you with the “geographical alternative” numbers for many of these 1890, 1850 and 0818 telephone numbers.
A geographical alternative number is an 01, or 021 or 091 number that you can call instead of the Lo Call or Call Save numbers, but still get through to the company.
By calling these numbers, you’ll either save money by having the minutes used on the call taken from your minutes bundle on your phone contract, or at least you’ll only end up paying the 5-6c per minute rather than 35-49c.
Most of Irelands biggest companies are included in the website with geographical alternative numbers provided – including most of the banks, mobile phone and energy companies.
How can you help?
If you know of a geographic alternative phone number to any 1890, 1850 or 0818 numbers, then visit SayNoTo1890.com and share it with everyone else.
Even better, if you work for a company that only provides one of these numbers but you know an alternative, contact me at the website and I’ll share the number with everyone while maintaining your privacy.
Given that some surveys of the worst offenders when it comes to companies keeping people hanging on show that you could be on hold for anything from 10 minutes to an hour, you could be saving yourself a small fortune on your phone costs – especially since we should really be paying those high costs at all.