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Thoughts on the ComReg Consultation paper regarding 1890/1850/0818 numbers

I’ve written on Monday and Tuesday about the new ComReg consultation paper that is looking to deal with the reason behind this site – the increased cost of calling 1890/1850/0818 numbers from mobile phones and landline users using bundles of minutes.

Firstly, let me apologise for inviting you to read the consultation paper itself. Having read through it myself, it’s a nightmare to try to understand. Whether that’s done on purpose, or not, it’s hard to know.

However, the heart of the matter resides on page 40 out of 42 where the paper reviews “Impact assessment and preferred option”.

According to the paper, this is the preferred option:

9.6.1 Preferred option – Bundling
ComReg considers that the most appropriate and consumer-friendly way to address all of the issues associated with more transparent consumer call charges is to include calls to 1850, 1890, 0818 and 076 in tariff bundles offered by fixed and mobile operators.

This move would greatly enhance transparency as customers could then be able to call these numbers with confidence knowing that the cost would be deducted from their remaining minutes. ComReg considers that the issue of bundling lies within the realm of the operator‟s commercial freedom and it therefore limits itself, for the moment, to encouraging operators to implement this option without delay.

Are people in agreement? In what seems like the simplest solution in the document, a change is made that requires operators to include calls made to these numbers in bundled minutes rather than separately charge.

At least when it comes to 1850 and 1890 numbers? The fact that these were originally excluded from bundles was the key reason for setting up this website in the first place.

From my perspective, I would personally call for abolishing the 0818 numbers – these are basically a “poor mans” premium rate number. Consumers calling these numbers are paying money directly into the pocket of the company they’re calling, as well as paying for the cost of the call as well. Do away with it, prevent businesses from providing customer care lines on premium rate lines, and be done with the 0818 completed.

The impact analysis in the document doesn’t see any “down side” to this proposal for 1890 and 1850 numbers.

In fact, it highlights what could be a marketing opportunity for telecoms operators – “Consumers may opt to switch to those operators offering enhanced inclusive minutes bundles.”

Let me know your thoughts. If people are in agreement, I’ll submit a response on behalf of the users of this website in favour of their preferred option – with the extra suggestion that 0818 numbers be done away with completely.

5 comments On Thoughts on the ComReg Consultation paper regarding 1890/1850/0818 numbers

  • I support the call to bundle these numbers wholehartedly. I believe they were introduced a long time ago at when call billing was stuctured in a completley different way. We paid on usage with a seperate charge for each extra call and sometimes paid long distance charges also. The providers offerd them to keep the calls from their customers at a low rate wheras now they have the opposite effect! I have emailed the provider of one such number I use (BankOf Ireland BOL) but havent had any response

  • Thanks for your comments Michael. I’m compiling all such comments now for a submission to ComReg in a couple of weeks.

  • Including these numbers in Bundles would be a minor improvement, but the downside could be that this would encourage businesses to continue or even extend their usage. Would it not be better to compel all businesses to show the geographic alternative number clearly, beside the premium number. Hardly difficult for Comreg to insist upon, and surely a business enhancer for the companies concerned.

  • I have no difficulty with including the 1850 no’s etc in the free minutes but I just feel it leaves things open for changes further down the line that will not benefit the consumer i.e. the free minutes packages are changeable. I agree with John O’Connell, all companies should be obliged to list normal landline or standard rate no’s. Then at least the if changes do come at least one has the basic no. to call. Also when dealing with phone companies it’s a total contradiction for a company to provide you with free minutes and when you have to contact them the call is charged.

  • I have phoned and emailed FBD Insurance twice about putting their direct number on their correspondence. No change there yet. Phoning their ‘International callers’ number without the prefix does work though.

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