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View Full Version : Indiscreet "special" phone charges


baldyb
12th April 2019, 06:16 PM
And before anyone gets the wrong idea, I am referring to charges on BT bills. :D

My recent BT bill was a few pounds more than expected so I thought I would just have a look at it. As I now try and remember to use my mobile minutes instead of the landline I only had 5 BT calls listed in the month, one of which was included in my call package, two more were shown as 1 second calls to locate my misplaced mobile indoors and the last two were to an 0300 number which strangely had several digits that were the exactly the same as in my landline number itself. The two calls to my mobile, even though unanswered, cost me 84p whilst the 03 calls - which I always thought were treated as 01 and 02 numbers and hence were included in my call package anyway - cost me 4.38. Not huge amounts but of course it's the principle that matters.

An online chat later and I am advised that dialling a mobile number incurs a charge once it rings (which I accept in hindsight as the call is connected even if only momentarily) but, and far more interestingly, that not all 03 calls are in fact free as some are classified as "special services". My request for a list of these 03 numbers, and what they were for, was refused and without my even having really complained yet I was told that the charges would be waived on this occasion and could the advisor close the complaint now. A few minutes later I received notification of a refund and also a link to BT help about their free 1572 Call Protect scheme.

Now, I am not at all tech savvy but if I can remember how to do it I usually block repetitive nuisance numbers via my handset memory, though on racking my brain I think I remember trying the BT system a few weeks ago after a nuisance call to see how it worked. This may of course be total coincidence or I may have not done/set it up correctly but I can't help thinking there is some connection between the 0300 special service calls I was charged for and my use of their 1572 system.

Maybe it's all above board and my own fault for not being more aware of this type of charge but has anybody else had a similar experience, or am I just having a particularly bad grumpy day?

Naughty Nigel
12th April 2019, 10:52 PM
I am surprised that you were charged for unanswered calls to any number. That just seems wrong to me.

However, you are not alone in being annoyed by unexpected call charges as I am too. Despite having various call packages there always seem to be a few calls that cost far more than expected.

BT sold us a new call package on out home phone which I hadn't realised didn't include calls outside of Europe. When I called my brother in Australasia for about an hour I was rewarded with a charge of nearly 65 on top of our normal bill. :)

wornish
13th April 2019, 07:21 AM
Did BT say you can be charged for receiving a call that is not answered thats got to be wrong surely?

If you answer it and then immediately hang up then OK fine there is a charge because you have accepted it. But if it just rings and no answer then they cant charge you or people would be inundated with scam calls.

Grumpy Hec
13th April 2019, 12:15 PM
Being ex telecomms I can confirm that mobiles are different with respect to charging than landlines. The latter charges only if answered but mobiles are once it is connected and rings.

Whether or not we agree with that is another discussion but that is the way that it is.

Another, and I think more naughty fact, on mobiles is text. That is in effect a zero cost option as it uses, or at least it used to, ch 16 in the 32 ch PCM and was a happy accident. Charging anything above a pittance is questionable in my view. This may have changed now of course as I have been out of that area for some time so I'm open to update.

Hec

wornish
13th April 2019, 01:15 PM
Thanks for explaining. How can they get away with that on mobiles?
How do you stop a scammer ?

Dewi9
13th April 2019, 06:01 PM
I was given an 0300 xx number to ring to arrange a physiotherapy appointment. Of course, the lines were busy a few times meaning a 'wait and see if answered' strategy, then try again another time.
After three calls I was finally connected and sorted things. Given that the calls were for a local NHS trust I was somewhat annoyed to be billed over 7 for the priviledge.
Free NHS ? Not any more.
David

baldyb
13th April 2019, 06:31 PM
Thanks for your explanation Hec. As you say, whether we agree with the mobile charging is another question!

I did a quick bit of googling earlier and it does seem that these chargeable 0300 numbers have mystified and aggravated countless other folks too....

Surely the regulator could make BT disclose exactly what numbers are affected rather than the statement I was given "yes, 03 numbers are free but not all the numbers. There is an exception as some of the numbers are registered as service numbers. These non geographical numbers are chargeable."

But the point is I never knowingly dialled the 0300 number in the first place, and as they wouldn't tell me what the "service" they have charged for was I am none the wiser! But I can't help wondering if it was to do with 1572.

Jim Ford
13th April 2019, 07:11 PM
This site is quite useful:

https://www.saynoto0870.com/search.php

Jim

Wee man
14th April 2019, 08:32 AM
Just been told by the secretary of a club I chair that he has been charged 5 each month for sending a group text reminding committee members of a meeting even though he has unlimited free texts. On checking he was told group texts count as media messages and not texts so are chargeable!

Ed

Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

wornish
14th April 2019, 09:07 AM
What a rip-off. The whole Mobile ecosystem needs exposing.

baldyb
14th April 2019, 09:20 AM
I remember my old grandad said to me many, many years ago "you get owt for nowt in life".

Now I guess they just conceal that fact very deep in the small print that most of use never read and wait for the complaints from those that can be bothered.

raichea
14th April 2019, 12:11 PM
You should not be charged "special rates" for 030xx numbers...

"03 and 030 numbers: UK-wide geographic numbers
Many organisations use 03 numbers as an alternative to more expensive 08 numbers.

Calls cost no more than calls to geographic numbers (01 or 02) and must be included in inclusive minutes and discount schemes in the same way. Calls from landlines and mobiles are included in free call packages.

030 numbers were specially designed for not-for-profit organisations, charities and public bodies to offer consumers a single point of contact nationally. The BBC, the Met Police, the RSPCA, Oxfam, Relate, some local councils, Ofcom and a number of government departments use 030 numbers."

This is from Ofcom:
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/costs-and-billing/how-much-does-a-phone-call-really-cost

pdk42
14th April 2019, 09:03 PM
I was given an 0300 xx number to ring to arrange a physiotherapy appointment. Of course, the lines were busy a few times meaning a 'wait and see if answered' strategy, then try again another time.
After three calls I was finally connected and sorted things. Given that the calls were for a local NHS trust I was somewhat annoyed to be billed over 7 for the priviledge.
Free NHS ? Not any more.
David

The whole charging scheme for telecomms devices defies all logic. In a sane world we would be charged by bytes of data we Tx/Rx - that way we could treat all usage, be it voice calls (which of course are digitally carried), text, internet etc as all the same. Maybe it'll happen one day.

Naughty Nigel
14th April 2019, 09:32 PM
Just been told by the secretary of a club I chair that he has been charged 5 each month for sending a group text reminding committee members of a meeting even though he has unlimited free texts. On checking he was told group texts count as media messages and not texts so are chargeable!

Ed

I don't think that is correct Ed. SMS messages are free on most contracts. If a message exceeds 256 characters (IIRC) it becomes two messages, which again are free. However, if you send pictures or emojis with a SMS message it becomes a multimedia message which is pricey.


The whole charging scheme for telecomms devices defies all logic. In a sane world we would be charged by bytes of data we Tx/Rx - that way we could treat all usage, be it voice calls (which of course are digitally carried), text, internet etc as all the same. Maybe it'll happen one day.

That could be expensive when SWMBO calls senior management. If they were charged on word count it would cost a fortune. :D

raichea
14th April 2019, 11:47 PM
...

If a message exceeds 256 characters (IIRC) it becomes two messages, which again are free. However, if you send pictures or emojis with a SMS message it becomes a multimedia message which is pricey.



The SMS character limit is 160. As you say, if you exceed that, they are sent as multiple texts, which (in theory) should also be free if you have a large text message allowance. Vodafone (and others, I assume) offer unlimited texts on some of their contracts.

However, if a large message has to be cut up into more than two texts, Vodafone then class it as a multimedia message and you have to pay.

Otto
15th April 2019, 08:42 AM
I have BT Mobile which has unlimited SMS included, plus a set limit on voice and data. There doesn't appear to be a reduction in the usage allowance if a call fails which suggests calls are charged only after connection. I have never been charged for any extra texts despite sending some quite long ones occasionally.

Jax
15th April 2019, 08:45 AM
Just been told by the secretary of a club I chair that he has been charged 5 each month for sending a group text reminding committee members of a meeting even though he has unlimited free texts. On checking he was told group texts count as media messages and not texts so are chargeable!

Ed

Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk


Ed's post clearly states the 5 charge is for sending "Group Texts" ( 1 text sent to several recipients ) These are classed as chargeable by the phone company concerned. It's not a matter of large texts being chopped up or anything similar.

Jax

Wee man
15th April 2019, 09:35 AM
As said above the message was

" reminder of meeting Tuesday 7:30"

It was a group text sent to ten people and was charged at 5. 50p per person.

On finding the 5 charge the person concerned contacted O2 and was told that the charge was for a group text which is treated as media message?

He normally never gets charged more than his monthly tariff as he has free unlimited calls and texts. He noticed a 5 extra charge each month for three months so enquired what it was. He has been secretary for three months.

He has now found same group type message with WhatsApp is free.

Ed

Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

Naughty Nigel
15th April 2019, 01:10 PM
What a rip-off. The whole Mobile ecosystem needs exposing.

Mobile telecoms in particular seems to be a nasty business all round.

Much of the industry's profits are generated by selling ridiculous packages to parents of school age children who must have the latest iPhone and must be able to stream videos in the playground. :rolleyes:

I went to court with an independent telecoms provider last year who cold called me purporting to be BT and sold me an updated Contract on that basis. I found out two days later that they were nothing to do with BT, (with chom I was still in Contract) so I terminated the new Contract. Said company, which is based in Crewe then took me to court claiming in excess of 7,500 for breaching their miss-sold Contract! :mad:

I won but I know for a fact that many other people paid up for fear of going to court, which seemed to be their game plan all along.

wornish
15th April 2019, 02:03 PM
Did you get your costs covered and also any damages?

Did they get fined or simply a slapped wrist?

Naughty Nigel
15th April 2019, 07:22 PM
Did you get your costs covered and also any damages?

Did they get fined or simply a slapped wrist?

Sadly not. The whole idea of the Small Claims Court is that legal costs are kept to a minimum. You don't necessarily need a Lawyer although I did take legal advice before submitting my defence. The telecoms company sent their 'In House Lawyer' who could only have claimed a modest fee (125 I think) plus reasonable travel expenses had they won.

Interestingly, one of the telecoms company's tactics was to threaten me that their Lawyers costs would amount to 50,000 plus and that they would repossess our house to cover their costs. That threat clearly worked with some of their other happy customers, but I knew that was bullshit so I met them head on.

Despite the threats I don't think actually going to court was ever part of their game plan. :mad: