It was this news article from Paul Kelly in the Irish Examiner that started my work on what eventually became the SayNoTo1890.com website. That’s 9 years ago now, and still nothing much has been done to alleviate the issue for Irish consumers (apart from this site obviously :-))
LoCall numbers could cost you extra
By Paul Kelly, Consumer Correspondent
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
CONSUMERS are needlessly paying out up to €5 a time to ring “low cost” telephone numbers like those beginning 1890 — even though they could get the calls for next to nothing.
Banks, airlines, Iarnród Éireann and the Revenue encourage consumers to ring their LoCall 1890 telephone numbers at local call rates costing 4.9cent a minute in the daytime and 1.26c off-peak.
But dialling the numbers from a mobile phone could cost up to €4.90 for a 10-minute call while landline customers could similarly find themselves out of pocket. This is because popular landline phone deals like Eircom’s exclude LoCall 1890 numbers, Callsave 1850 and national 0818 calls from the offer of unlimited landline calls while mobiles have higher fees for “low cost” numbers.
Yet consumers can beat the trap if they dial the alternative numbers listed by many organisations on their websites or in phone books alongside their 1890, 1850 and 0818 numbers.
For instance, customers on Eircom’s Talktime Anytime package, would pay 49c for a 10-minute call to the AIB phone banking 1890 242424 hotline as such numbers are not part of the offer of unlimited calls.
But if customers dialled the hotline on AIB’s alternative number of 01 6670024 then the call would be included in their €39.99-a-month fee for unlimited calls.
Similarly, an Eircom customer on the Talktime 15c package pays €25.99 a month for line rental and then 15c per landline call no matter how long they talk for.
But if they have to make a 10-minute call to Ticketmaster’s 0818 719300 number for booking a concert ticket then they will pay 82c for a daytime call or 49c in the evenings.
Had they telephoned the ticket company’s alternative number 01 4569569, then they would pay a standard 15c flat fee.
By dialling the national 0818 number customers are paying up to 81% more for the call than they need to as the Talktime 15c package only covers standard phone numbers.
From a mobile a 10-minute call to a Ticketmaster 0818 line costs up to €4.90 with Vodafone, €2.50 with Meteor and €3.10 with O2.
Subscribers to landline phone firms’ deals pay 6.35c extra every time they call the 1850 Callsave numbers used by the likes of Bord Gáis, ESB and the VHI.
But if they have all-inclusive packages then they can save by dialling standard numbers and avoid paying out extra.
Yesterday, the Consumers’ Association of Ireland (CAI) said that firms with 1850, 1890 and 0818 numbers should do more to make their customers aware of how to make their calls cheaper.
“More organisations are using these numbers as a convenient way for customers to get in touch yet these numbers can cost a fortune,” said CAI chief executive Dermott Jewell.
“Phone companies should include 1890 or 1850 numbers in their deals and should not be charging consumers extra as these are still landline calls,” he said.