DVLA reveal alternative to 0870 premium rate contact numbers after FOIA request
A reader of this blog draws our attention to a long running battle with bureacracy at the Driver and Vehicle Licesnsing Agency, which seems to have been resolved by a Freedom of Information Act request:
"Thought you might be interested a forum posting I read today.
It concerns somebody's attempts to get a simple geographic number
alternative to the DVLA's 0870 numbers so they can be contacted at a
lower cost and from outside the UK.
They had various evasive and downright inaccurate responses and kept
saying that they were not give out such a number. The person then sent
an FOI request and got a simple reply on the 20th day:
The final response is on page three by "idb" if you don't have time to
read much of it.
Thanks, and keep up the good work!"
One good comment in the discussion thread is a riposte to the suggestion that people should contact the BBC's "Watchdog" consumer rights TV programme about the issue - except that they too are profiting from a Premium Rate 0870 number !
It is not just the DVLA which has switched over to 0870 Premium Rate phone numbers for their main public enquiry phone line, in contravention of the offical guidlines quoted in the forum discussion thread above, so has the Home Office, and the Department for Education and Skills.
A Google search reveals that lots of other UK Government departments and agencies are also ripping off the public with 0870 Premium Rate numbers from which they derive, more and more revenue, the longer they keep you hanging on the phone.
The Inland Revenue, the National Health Service Direct system and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs use a 0845 "national local rate" numbers, but these are also often more expensive than a direct phone call, for many people.
Is it worth asking, via FOIA requests, who made the decisions to move over to 0870 Premium Rate phone numbers in each of these cases, and how they can be justified for the main public phone enquiry lines for public services ? What role did the telecomms sales people have in getting public authorities to change over to these relatively expensive services ?
There may be a place for premium rate numbers for some specialised services, but surely the main public enquiry phone numbers for Government Departments and Agencies should be 0800 Freephone numbers within the United Kingdom, many of which are available to contact various Government Departments, with normal Subscriber Trunk Dialing international contact number alternatives ?