Dave's Free Press: Journal

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Tue, 16 Dec 2008

NHS rip-off phone numbers

It has been a long-standing grump of mine how so many companies and - far worse - public bodies such as the NHS only publish rip-off phone numbers for their clients to talk to them on. These rip-off numbers include 087 numbers, 084, 080, and 07 numbers.

084 is marketed as being low cost, limited to the same rate as a local call - it's often misleadingly called "local rate" or "lo-call". What rot! It's actually priced to be the same rate as a local call at BT's standard tariff. But how many people are on BT's standard tariff? Cheaper tariffs are available from BT themselves, and of course no-one who uses another telco (such as Virgin Media if you're on cable, or any of the mobile companies) will be on BT's tariff. The people receiving calls on 084 and 087 numbers actually get paid by the telco for generating the call, that's how expensive they are - the telco charges punters so much that they can afford to pass some of it on to someone else.

080 is of course used for "free" calls. But these are not always free. They're certainly not free if you call from a mobile, like how most people make their calls these days.

Finally, after many years of abuse, this scandalous rip-off seems to be getting some attention. However, watch out for a common lie told by advocates of these rip-off numbers. They say that it's only now that the new 03 range exists that companies can move away from rip-off numbers and still get the full range of services that they get from their rip-off provider. This is utter bullshit. All those services like call queueing are available on any number if you ask your telco for them.

The proof that it's bullshit is saynoto0870.com, a website whose operators and users have ferreted out alternative geographic numbers (those beginning 01 and 02; cheap or even free to call) which companies have, and which end up in exactly the same phone systems as their rip-off numbers do. I urge you to contribute data where you can. You can get hold of geographic numbers for public bodies by submitting Freedom Of Information Act requests. For commercial bodies, they will often tell you a cheap number to call if you tell them that you are going to be travelling abroad - the rip-offs are so expensive that foreign telcos will often simply refuse to let you dial them.

Posted at 20:17 by David Cantrell
keywords: media | telecoms
Permalink | 2 Comments
Sun, 4 Nov 2007

Phone number formatting

AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!

I just got email from someone on a mailing list who has his phone numbers in his email signature. He has them formatted like this:

  • 02392 xxxxxx
  • 0783 3xx xxxx

Both of those are wrong. They should be:

  • 023 92xxxxxx (023 92xx xxxx is also acceptable)
  • 07833 xxxxxx (07833 xxx xxx is also acceptable)

And yes, I will kill the next person who writes 0207 or 0208 for a London number.

Posted at 20:22 by David Cantrell
keywords: rant | telecoms
Permalink | 1 Comment
Sun, 29 Jul 2007

Palm Treo call db module

To make up for a disappointing gap in Palm's software for the Treo smartphone, I wrote a small perl script to parse the database that stores my call history. I then re-wrote it as a re-useable module which also figgers out whether the call was incoming or outgoing.

Posted at 16:56 by David Cantrell
keywords: geeky | palm | perl | telecoms
Permalink | 0 Comments
Sat, 2 Jun 2007

Number::Phone release

There's a new release, version 1.58, of Number::Phone, my set of perl modules for picking information out of phone numbers. Changes from the previous release are that Mayotte, Reunion and Comoros can't decide which country is which, and there's the usual updates to the database of UK numbers, mostly to support the new 03 numbers.

Posted at 00:34 by David Cantrell
keywords: geeky | perl | telecoms
Permalink | 0 Comments
Tue, 13 Feb 2007

Number portability

Recently, OFCOM asked for remarks about number portability. My response is here (PDF). The free software that I refer to in that page is my Number::Phone::UK module on the CPAN, which you can see in action here.

Posted at 20:49 by David Cantrell
keywords: geeky | telecoms
Permalink | 0 Comments

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