Tuesday 16 December 2008

Say no: ban 0870 from public sector

Does anyone hate high-rate 0870 numbers as much as me? Possibly not.

They have the potential to send my blood into boil mode because of the unfairness of being stuck in a system where the longer you wait the more you have to pay. So by the time I get through to a real person, after the hell of being stuck on a rotation of grating lift music, I am not in the best of moods.

First of all, many people have negotiated with their phone companies deals that allows "free" calls to landlines, but premium rate numbers are not included.

And often when you call premium rate numbers you are reporting a fault, and therefore it doesn't appropriate for you, the consumer, to have to pay extra to report something to get it fixed.

Even more unfair than this, it seems to me, is being asked to pay a premium rate for the pleasure of calling your GP for an appointment.

Some practises have defended this measure by saying the money they raise from high-rate calls goes into the surgery. Call me old-fashioned but I already felt I was helping pay for the NHS with my taxes, and it seems wrong to ask people to pay to report to their GP that they are ill and need treatment. I hardly think this is the time to add even more stress to their day.

Dave Anderson MP agrees with me, and wants to do something about it which is why he is calling on the government to stop the public sector using premium rate numbers in an article for the next Fabian Review.

Dave says: "The government needs to act on this: the use of expensive numbers by GPs should be explicitly forbidden."

Who could disagree?

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