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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 ?


As well as asking who decided to use 08* and 09* numbers instead of geographic numbers, how about asking how much revenue the departments in question got from those numbers? And how did they decide which telcos to use for those numbers?

It's also worth noting that calls to 0800 (supposedly free) numbers are *charged* when made from a mobile, and are not generally counted against your "free" minutes.

Government Departments should not be profiting from 0870/0845 numbers; their mission in life should be to provide essential information to the public in their areas of influence. There should be NO charge.
Government has instucted doctors surgeries not to use these premium numbers after protests, and should now take the same line with its own departments if it is to be consistent. Ask your MP how much government is "earning" through this rip-off

Ref` your comments concerning 0870 no`s, to add insult to injury, the Met used an 0870 no` for relatives to enquire about 7th July bombing casualties. When exposed a "spokesperson" apologised, saying "a mistake had been made" This gov` is desperate for money& will do anything to get it! The Greek Embassy charge £1.00 Per min`to book an appointment, takes 12 mins plus!!!

Can it be established thro` FOI act how many immigrants are rec` non contributary benefits, i.e free housing,welfare, schooling etc` currently? I ask because our (everybodies) Council Tax is rocketing to an almost unsustainable level. If the general public realised what they are sustaining I believe there would be Civil disobedience! Any comments? Or will this query be suppressed? Tom.

0870 Numbers are on their way out, now that Ofcom are banning revenue share on 0870's from next year. Trust me you'll be seeing a lot more 0844 numbers around as companies still get a revenue share from them!

Kind Regards
Telecoms Consultant

Try using 01792 782341 which I got from saynoto0870 site

i think it will be very nice if they stop 087 numbers which cost alot

0844 numbers have a fixed rate cost of 5ppm and gernerate higher reveunes for companies using them. We use these numbers for disaster recovery purposes and although we do genreate revenue share for each call this is ofset by the cost of the service we offer our customers. As a company that previously used 0845 and are now migrating to 0844's the cost of the call to the originator has incresed significantly and although we generate more revenue due to this it has not been our intention to do so and we would have much prefered ofcom to leave this well alone, the reasoning behind the change is due to the public been unaware of the charge of these calls, surely rather than create more confusion by creating more 08xx numbers ofcom should have regulated the charges to these numbers and informed the public of the cost to call these numbers. All they have managed to do is increase the cost to the caller and increase the revenues to the companies using them!

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