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skuffett
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Message 1 of 13
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Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

45 pence per minute. Seriously?

I have a SIM-only 30-day plan, and just got an enormous charge for a unplanned lengthy conference call that I made to an 0844 number. As Virgin Mobile are helpful to explain, calls to service numbers are split into 2 parts: the access charge (i.e. that VM charge) and the call charge (i.e. the service provider charge). However, the access charge in my case was 45ppm and the service charge 0ppm... Smiley Sad

A comparable competitor to Virgin Mobile is Giff Gaff. They are both Virtual Network Operators. Giff Gaff have a SIM-only 30 day plan. How much do they charge?

25 pence per minute.

Virgin Mobile is an outrageous rip off by comparison. I know where I will be going in the New Year.

 

 

 

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J0hn
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Message 2 of 13
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

The split charge is a requirement, Virgins price gouging is a way of profiting from you account
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skuffett
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Message 3 of 13
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

Yes, I get that the split charge is an Ofcom requirement.. My point was that Virgin stress the fact that there are two parts to the charge as a way of somehow explaining why the charge is so high. However, when you actually look at the detail of the charge in this instance, it is Virgin that is responsible for *all* of the cost as the other party in this instance was zero-rated!

I get that network operators need to make a profit, I really do.

My problem is that the price level here is truly extortionate. "Price gouging" as you say - an apt phrase.

 

 

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RascalBear
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Message 4 of 13
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

I've just submitted a Formal Complaint to Virgin Mobile as typically 084 numbers are charged at 10p per minute (the "service charge" set by the organisation you're calling) and on top of this Virgin Mobile are adding an "access charge" of 45p per minute. --- Do the math and you'll see that Virgin Mobile are adding 900%! That's not a typo; Virgin Mobile charge you Nine-Hundred Percent.

I've challenged this as unlawful as, under English law Virgin Mobile appear to be in breech of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Specifically the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. These prohibit the enforcement of a standard term or condition being contrary to "good faith" in that the contract was not negotiated in an open and fair way, and that the clause relating to excessive charges when calling 084 numbers is burried in the small print of a very extensive and confusing contract.

Indeed, I've spent a few evenings on the phone to Virgin Mobile attempting to find out precisely which sections of their so-called "Legal Stuff" do/don't apply to my 4G Pay Monthly contract: in particular, where is the clause that I'm required to have set out clearly and easily accessibly that tells me they'll add 900% to a 10p call. Virgin Mobile haven't been able to point me to it.

English law is that any imposed "general" terms (i.e. not individually negitiated) must not be "hidden" (as in burried deep in the small print).

A contractual condition is also "unfair" if it allows one party to charge excessive fees (the 45p / 900% "access charge" is clearly "excessive") to the detriment of the other party (you and me). As Which? Consumer Rights puts it, "The term may be deemed unfair if: ... they cause a significant imbalance between the rights of the retailer and consumer to the detriment of the consumer".

Complaints should be made to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The Which? website has a link to the CMA' s downloadable complaints form.


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Superuser
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Message 5 of 13
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously


RascalBear wrote:
and that the clause relating to excessive charges when calling 084 numbers is burried in the small print of a very extensive and confusing contract.

The charge isn't hidden. It's show in Your Account in the billing section:

servicecharge1.PNG

and is also shown on the call charges page here:
http://store.virginmedia.com/virgin-media-mobile/pay-monthly/pay-monthly-call-charges.html


RascalBear wrote:
I've just submitted a Formal Complaint to Virgin Mobile as typically 084 numbers are charged at 10p per minute (the "service charge" set by the organisation you're calling) and on top of this Virgin Mobile are adding an "access charge" of 45p per minute. --- Do the math and you'll see that Virgin Mobile are adding 900%! That's not a typo; Virgin Mobile charge you Nine-Hundred Percent.

The access charge as designed by OFCOM is a single fixed amount - you know what your phone provider's access charge is no matter what service number you're dialling, and it's then easier to understand what you're paying for between your phone provider and the service provider:

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0025/58615/part_a.pdf

In order to ensure these different charges are made transparent to consumers, we would set rules about the structure of the Access and Service Charges so that consumers can more readily understand and, where appropriate, remember them. These include:

  • one Access Charge per tariff package, for calls to all unbundled non-geographic number ranges;
  • the Access Charge to be set as a simple ‘pence per minute’ rate;
  • each individual 084, 087, 09 or 118 number to have a single Service Charge that applies to calls to that number from all fixed and mobile phones;
  • calls made by a consumer to the unbundled non-geographic number ranges to be charged at the amount of the consumer’s Access Charge plus the Service Charge, unless the call counts towards a bundle of inclusive call minutes which the consumer has bought;
  • phone companies to publicise the amount of the Access Charge for each tariff package they offer consumers; and
  • organisations and service providers to include their Service Charge whenever the number is presented (i.e. in advertising and marketing).

So Virgin Media's access charge (whether home phone or mobile) can only be one amount for your call plan and must apply to all service numbers outside of any call allowance, irrespective of what the service charge then is.

**********************************
I work for Virgin Media - but all opinions posted here are my own
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RascalBear
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Message 6 of 13
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

"Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive!"

The law refers to the *contract*. Whatever's published elsewhere is irrelevant.

And you've nicely demonstrated that the wording is burried in the small print as well as being obscured by lots of 'noise' about other tarif rates that have nothing to do with me. All of which contravenes the 2015 Act.

QED.
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Superuser
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Message 7 of 13
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

It's not irrelevant.

OFCOM regulations govern all UK telecoms providers. Their rules and regulations are outside of specific terms and conditions that each provider may set, and apply by law without having to be specifically included in a providers individual terms.

The link above to OFCOM's site is where they set out over an 88 page document exactly what they planned to do when they changed the costs to call to service providers, how it would work, and what both telecoms providers and service providers would need to do. It's not supposed to be anything other than a detailed document as part of the consultation and regulation work done before the change was mandated.

I highlighted the appropriate section of the OFCOM document that covered how telecoms providers would be required to form their access charge. For this discussion, it makes clear the telecoms providers cannot vary the access charge based on the dialled number, nor is it set based on the costs of service charges. It is a fixed charge and so the percentage difference between the access charge and service charge will vary depending on the call you are making - this is the same for all UK telecoms providers.

In regards to the visibility of the access charge, it's given as much prominence as any other call cost for Virgin Mobile e.g. standard landline call costs outside of any inclusive calls, and it's also given it's own information box on the billing page where you can see your monthly bill.

**********************************
I work for Virgin Media - but all opinions posted here are my own
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Superuser
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Message 8 of 13
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

If you are comparing your assumed cost of 10PPM to VM's rate of 45PPM thats a 450% mark up , not 900%. Just sayin.

However as VM are an MVNO, what you need to do is compare it to the network they piggyback on. Which is EE. Who charge 50PPM for 084 numbers. So you are SAVING 10% over EE's cost by going through VM.

Now Im no fan of Virgin Mobile, but I really dont see how thats price gouging if you are saving money over the SAME CALL on the base network...

 

 


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teabag
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Message 9 of 13
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

Kippies said: "However as VM are an MVNO, what you need to do is compare it to the network they piggyback on. Which is EE. Who charge 50PPM for 084 numbers. So you are SAVING 10% over EE's cost by going through VM."

Today (1st July) was when Virgin's new call price rises came into force :-(
The new charge is now also 50PPM for 084 numbers.
---------------------------------------------------------------
BB 200 - Hub 3, Phone Talk w/ends, Mobile Sim only £9 and £5 big bundle sim. Customer since 1993.
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RascalBear
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Message 10 of 13
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

While it's true that new 084 regulations came into force on 1st July 2017, and that they apply to all telephone companies, also that Ofcom has many regulations that VM and others must comply with, this has absolutely nothing to do with breaches of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Perhaps I should state that my professional role includes writing contractual and other consumer facing legal documents for major corporations. As such, I am often confronted with a corporation wanting to include clauses that are not compliant with the various regulations in their client countries. Certainly, a contract as impenetrable and uncompliant as VM's would never be get my sign off.

In any case, what's important here is that VM have been overcharging their customers --- to an extortionate degree --- for a number of years, and that we're owed a refund.

Breaches of the Consumer Rights Act have nothing whatsoever to do with Ofcom or anything else. The test of whether the 084 section of the contract is unfair is simple. Were ANY of the following true:
1) At the time of signing the contract, would an average person have been aware of the clause of the contract pertaining to very high VM per minute charges when dialing an 084 number from a VM phone?
2) Does the 084 clause unfairly favour VM to the detriment of the consumer?
3) Is the VM part of per minute charges relating to its consumers dialing an 084 prefix number excessive?

If one or more of the above is true, then the clause is "unfair" and any charges made on the basis of the 084 clause are contrary to the terms of the Act.

Information provided outside the wording of the contract is irrelevant. It's all about what we signed and whether one off the signatories had an unfair negotiating position. End of story.
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