Archive | December, 2010

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION NO. 80 – Alan Shatter, TD – May 12th, 2009

Irish_Government_LogoMany thanks to the reader who went so far as to approach their local TD, Alan Shatter, to have a question asked of the Minister for Energy and Natural Resource, Eamonn Ryan, TD.

Unfortunately, as we’re finding out from any organisation that’s being approached about this issue, no one is taking responsibility – instead leaving it down to the telecoms operators, all of whom have too much money to lose by doing anything different.


To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will take the necessary steps to ensure that an area code fixed line number must be provided alongside an 1890 or 1850 telephone number where such numbers are provided for members of the public to contact any organisation or business to enable such calls to be included in a bundle of inclusive minutes as currently offered by various telecom providers; his views on whether the practice of State bodies and businesses to exclusively use 1890 or 1850 numbers is contrary to the public interest and results in consumers incurring unnecessary expense; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The matters raised by the Deputy are a customer service issue for the organisation or business concerned. The use and display of telephone numbers is an area in which I have no statutory function. In relation to the wider public sector, I will ask my officials to contact the Quality Customer Service Officers Network, which is managed by the Department of the Taoiseach, requesting that they advise Government Departments and State Agencies to display and use both local and lo-call numbers.

My own Department uses both a lo-call number and a standard local number to facilitate a choice for members of the public. These numbers are published on the Department’s website and in telephone directories.

Its interesting to see the referal of the issue to whatever that “Quality Customer Service Officers Network” is. As I wrote about last week, there are still some Departments and government organisations that don’t provide geographical alternative numbers. I wonder will these officers.


Government Departments using 1890 Numbers

esb_logoThis e-mail came through from a reader recently with strange statement from an ESB employee included:

The ESB have a listed 1890 no to call in readings but I rang the landline on ‘our’ site. They left me holding ages and finally when I got through they told me that there was some problem in that section and would I mind ringing another 1890 no.

I said I would mind as I did not wish to incur such charges for a 1890 no. but then he replied, but you did ring a 1890 no. and I advised no that I had phoned a land line no. They cannot tell what no. the customer calls. Then he told me that after the first three minutes, ESB take up the charges???

Could this be true or a fantasy of his mind.

He’s not right, but he’s not completely wrong either.

A LOCALL number is where the customer is charged a reduced rate per minute (see the Call Costs page ) with the company who provides the number being charged the balance.

There is no time limit on when the company kicks in and pays for the call – they effectively subsidise the call from the very beginning.


Contacting companies where the geographical alternative is in Northern Ireland

dialling_048_northern_ireland_numbersThere are a couple of companies listed on the A-Z page where the geographical alternative number is actually an 048 Northern Ireland number.

As suggested by one of our readers, you should check with your phone provider if calls to (048) are included in your free local calls as part of your phone package. Depending on your phone provider, they may very well be, saving yourself another few quid on call costs.

Another reader commented:

Many packages such as certain eircom or BT Ireland packages include all UK landline calls. So UK landline numbers are always useful in addition to Irish landline numbers, and can cost less (if you have the right tariff) than those dreaded 1890 numbers!


Same number but just different prefixes – the way of the 1890 future?

This interesting e-mail came through from a reader of the in the past couple of weeks.

I found out the alternative phone no. for Clean Ireland. It says 1890 361 800 on their website. I couldn’t find the alternative online so I decided trying the prefix 061 instead of 1890 and it worked. 061 is for Limerick, I knew that Clean Ireland is based in Limerick so that’s why I tried that. Perhaps this method will work for other 1890 numbers also. Or maybe you already knew that. So there’s another no. to add to your list, it’s 061 361 800 for Clean Ireland.

clean_ireland_logoIt’s an interesting development in the whole 1890 numbering issue when it comes to the geographical alternative numbers.

It’s probably not possible this late in the whole 1890 life of numbers with so many already assigned, but it’d be great if anyone looking for a new 1890 number in the future would just get the same number as their geographical alternative number.


Advertising Standards Authority and misleading information on phone numbers (cont.)

advertising_standards_authority_of_ireland_logoRecently I wrote about a complaint submitted by a reader to the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) about a florist in Waterford who advertised their 1850 number as a freephone number.

I myself made a complaint to the ASAI about one of the radio adverts for the Jack And Jill Foundation.

This one, voiced by the fake Eddie Hobbs, invites you to call their “cheap” phone number which is a 1890 number.

Obviously, if you’re calling from a mobile, this number is far from cheap – but no qualification to highlight that fact is mentioned in the advertising.

jack_and_jill_foundation_logoThe response from the ASAI was that they’d spoken to the Jack And Jill Foundation who said they wouldn’t use that particular advert again and that the issue was now closed.

Fair enough. Until the Jack And Jill Foundation started using the exact same advert again.


Advertising Standards complaint about misleading information on phone numbers

advertising_standards_authority_of_ireland_logoThis e-mail came through recently from a reader, the primary recipient of the mail being the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland.

There is a florist on Merchants Quay in Waterford City, the shopfront of which advertises thus…

Flowers by Lucy – FREEPHONE 1850 50 80 80

At 15:06 BST on Saturday 25 July I dialled the number advertised, the call lasted 23 seconds and the operator charged me 30 cent. Where a number advertised as FREEPHONE is dialled from any network licensed within the same jurisdiction (ie. The Republic of Ireland), no charge whatsoever should be incurred by the person initiating that phone call.

Please advise on the procedure for having this matter resolved.

I haven’t been included in any subsequent communications, but I can guess what the response will be from the Advertising Standards people.


When a 1800 (free) number becomes a 1890 number (paid)

upc logoThis is a trick that used to be used by NTL/UPC before they started focusing on their 1906 number. This e-mail from a reader shows that Dunnes Stores are doing the same thing:

just off the Dunnes Stores helpline. On the website you are directed to 1800-678999 but once as you call it says if you are using a mobile to use 1890-678999. I went on line to see what the difference was in the phone numbers and came accross your website….so just thought it might be of interest to you

dunnes stores logoI’m sure there’s some technical reason in the background as to why a company might do this – because it’s not as if Dunnes Stores make money off the 1890 number.

Anyone have any idea why?


Readers e-mail – who’s impacted by these 1890, 1850 & 0818 numbers

which? logoThis e-mail came through from a user of the website in the recent past.

Came across your website after seeing Which? article about My bugbear is Sky customer services 0818 number – I had 4 hours of phone calls to them (trying to fix problem they caused with their new viewing cards!) If I had an ordinary national or local number I wouldn’t have had to pay anything as I have free national (except 0818 of course) and local calls tariff with eircom. The nice Glaswegian girl in Sky did try and find one. She gave me an 0845 number and told me it was only a local call rate(!!), but came up empty for Ireland. Another one is the 1850 373 772 for ESB public lighting section – I do my civic duty and reports light out and get charged for it. The nice Cork girl at the ESB couldn’t find a ‘normal’ number for me.

I didn’t realise the full consequences of the 1890 numbers, which the company I work for use. I don’t think we realise the latest consequences of our locall numbers.

Do businesses (who are the majority users of our locall numbers) suffer as much with the charging structure of 1890 as private customers? If you say they do, then I’ll certainly highlight your website and 1890 consequences with our marketing and customer service departments, as our intention is to provide a local cost service to our business clients and we’re not making any money from offering the 1890 numbers, so it must be the phone companies!

sky logoThere is no distinction between business and personal phone callers when using 1890 phone numbers – what does impact on all users of these numbers is the phone package that they’re on.

If they have a phone package with inclusive minutes, then these 1890, 1850 and 0818 numbers will cost those calling the numbers. In fact, it will cost significantly more than even if they were to call an 01 number without the inclusive minutes – sometimes up to 30c per minute.


0818 numbers being wrongly advertised as 1890

In the past, I’ve written how some unscrupulous companies may try to con potential callers by advertising their 0818 numbers in a way that makes them look harmless – i.e. 081 8. A recent trend I’m seeing these days is for companies to falsely advertise 0818 number as Lo Call numbers. While some people may not get the difference, they’re two completely distinct numbers – as detailed on the FAQ page here. This picture shows such a false advertising sign, though I do apologies it’s hard to make out.

If you're reading this, you're probably on a PC with internet filtering, or a poor connections, so you're missing a picture of Dublin City Council claiming 0818 number is Locall

What is an 1890 number?

An 1890 number is known as a LoCall number. It was devised to allow customers call businesses from all over the country, but for a flat local rate. So, you could call a business in Dublin for the same cost as calling a business around the corner.

What is an 0818 number?

An 0818 number is known as a National Call number. This type of phone number was devised to allow businesses charge an extra small premium above the regular cost of the call.

The different costs associated with 0818 and 1890 numbers are available here on the Costs page – in some cases there’s little difference, but there can be big differences depending on your operator.

I personally have a big problem with 0818 numbers. If a consumer is planning on dealing with a business, why should they have t0o pay a premium cost on their phone call costs just to find out more. I’ll personally stay away from any business that provides an 0818 contact number – particularly for sales, never mind customer support.


Note for those submitting numbers to

saynoto1890 iconJust a note to some people who think that can be used for free advertising. If you think about it, being listed on this site is really a reason for shame rather than self-promotion.

If you’re a company that only provides an 1890, 1850 or 0818 number (or makes it almost impossible to find a geographical alternative), and thereby makes it more expensive for many of your companies to contact you, then you’re pretty much failing at your customer service.

So, if you’re a company that doesn’t actually have an 1890, 1850 or 0818 number, then there’s really no point e-mailing me your phone number to get it listed here – we don’t need it as people can already find it on your website.



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