Many thanks to the SayNoTo1890.com 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.