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RascalBear
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Message 11 of 20
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

Apologies. I said that the average cost to whoever you're calling is 10p per minute, on top of which VM add their charges.

That should have been an average cost of 5p per minute (as charges can be from 1p to 7p per minute).

Therefore, a 5p per minute call + VM's 45p per minute gives VM a 900% addition.

By analogy, if you bought a £100 shop at the supermarket, and the cashier told you they'd be adding a surcharge for using your credit card, I think you'd be a bit taken aback when you found a charge of £1,000 on your credit card statement.

Does VM have to charge 45p? No. Does it cost VM extra; an amount they have to recoup? No. Could VM dispense with its part of the charge? Yes.

900% Go figure.
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Superuser
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Message 12 of 20
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously


@RascalBear wrote:
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?

What 084 term of the contract?

Virgin Media are required by OFCOM to set an access charge for calling Service Numbers, and as part of the requirement publish that charge to their customers - Virgin Media do that by putting the charge on the Call Costs page and in Your Account. Calling Service Numbers isn't a specific term within the contract, it's part of the required General Conditions that all UK telecoms providers must follow.

In regards to the second part I'm not disputing your right to query the costs. For comparison some of the competitor rates for Pay Monthly Access Charge are as follows:

EE - 50ppm
O2 - 55ppm
Vodafone - 55ppm
Three - 45ppm

There are other mobile providers that have a lower access charge, but that was in part the aim of OFCOM - to allow customers the choice to choose a provider that had call costs that were competitive for their call needs, whether that be for calling Service Numbers or anything else.

**********************************
I work for Virgin Media - but all opinions posted here are my own
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Superuser
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Message 13 of 20
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously


@RascalBear wrote:
By analogy, if you bought a £100 shop at the supermarket, and the cashier told you they'd be adding a surcharge for using your credit card, I think you'd be a bit taken aback when you found a charge of £1,000 on your credit card statement.

Maybe a better analogy would be costs for running a car:

You buy a car, and as part of that purchase you know how much the Car Tax, Insurance or any finance are per hour /  day / week / month. You can choose to get the best price between providers at the time of purchase / contract agreement, but once you've chosen your provider, then your costs are known. This could be seen as equivalent to your known Access Charge.

When you fill up with fuel, you pick a Petrol Station that has the best rate for fuel at the time that you wish to fill up. That is your Service Charge, as it can be variable and you normally have a choice of the cost each time.

The Access Charge and Service Charge do not have a direct relationship i.e. in the analogy if you pick a cheaper petrol station, your Car Tax, Insurance or finance costs don't change. However combining the two together gives you the total cost of using your car for an hour / day / week / month - the equivalent to the total call cost of calling a Service Number.


@RascalBear wrote:
Does VM have to charge 45p? No. Does it cost VM extra; an amount they have to recoup? No. Could VM dispense with its part of the charge? Yes.

900% Go figure.

In regards to the questions:

1. In Part, Yes. Virgin Media a required to set an Access Charge for your call plan that applies to all Services Numbers you may dial. Does it have to be 45p or 50ppm? I have no idea as I don't know the provider costs involved in setting up and connecting a call to a Service Number, but a lot of the mobile providers seem to be around the same rate.

2. Yes. That's the whole point. There is a cost calling a number, some of which is charged by your phone provider and some by the provider of the number you're calling. That applies to every single number you dial. In the case of Service Numbers, OFCOM have required that this cost is split out to customers. Again this is from the OFCOM document:

6.43.1 “Access Charge” is defined as the rate set by a CP in respect of retailing and originating a call to an Unbundled Tariff Number and conveying it to the Assumed Handover Point, for the purpose of calculating the amount payable by a Consumer for making such a call;

6.43.2 “Service Charge” is defined as the rate set by a CP for conveying a call from the Assumed Handover Point to the point of termination and enabling a Consumer to use an Unbundled Tariff Number to access a service provided by means of that number;

6.43.3 “Assumed Handover Point” means the nearest point of interconnection to the origination of a call to an Unbundled Tariff Number at which the call may be handed over to the network of another CP. For these purposes, where such a call is routed via a transit network, the Assumed Handover Point is deemed to be the nearest point of ingress from the originating network to the transit network.

3. Yes, it could do, but only if the Service Number is included as part of any bundled minutes allowance  - which why the OFCOM document specifically says 'Unbundled Tariff Number' above, to make it clear there is a difference. So if it's not a bundled call, Virgin Media must charge the Access Charge, and at the rate set for your call plan.

You seem to be getting hung up on the relationship between the Access Charge and the Service Charge of the call you're making. That was not the intention for the OFCOM changes.

The changes were done so you know what your fixed Access Charge for your call plan is, so you don't need to continually look it up when you're then looking at what the Service Charge is.

By design, the Access Charge has no cost relationship (percentage multiplied or otherwise) to individual Service Charges for numbers dialled.

**********************************
I work for Virgin Media - but all opinions posted here are my own
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ntlcableuser
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Message 14 of 20
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

Plusnet, another EE reseller (or whatever fancy MLA (Multi Letter Acronym) you want to call them):

The Plusnet access charge will be 9.58p per minute. This charge will only be applied to calls made to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers.

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gurniesanders
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Message 15 of 20
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

Pebble Network (an MVNO that offers 'the best mobile coverage' by running on o2 + Vodafone + EE + Three) include calls to 08 numbers "in bundle" and charge the same on pay as you go as they do for "normal calls". It seems they get around the requirement to levy an access charge by immediately refunding it, which is quite novel! On their pay as you go page under the tariff info headed "Great Rates" it says: 


 084/087 numbers - 5p/min access charge plus a service charge set by the service provider you are calling. Service charge immediately refunded so that you never pay more than your standard rate for these calls.

At the bottom of their site on the main page it also says:


 No extra charges for calling 08 numbers

To my knowledge, it's the only network that includes 08 numbers in standard minutes. So 45p-55p cheaper per minute than the main networks...

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Yafster1
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Message 16 of 20
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

I've been charged 26 pounds for a 40 minute phone call. I tried to complain but they said that I shouldn't have used the service without first ensuring that I was happy with the fees of which I was entirely unaware.

How is the average consumer to know that they will be charged extra for calls made to certain numbers? It is clearly the case that me and many others only found out about this charge when looking at our bills at the end of the month. I get that the information is displayed somewhere, but as this thread and many others make clear most people don't seem to be aware of these charges until after they make the call. If the people at Virgin wanted to be transparent rather than making money off of surprising people they could do that very easily. For example, by way of an automated voice message that informs us before we make a call how much we will be charged for it.

It is definitely not common knowledge that 084 numbers cost extra. Unlike say international calls. As such, Virgin must know that customers will be surprised and unhappy about the charges incurred for 084 numbers but choose to not inform them. This is dishonest. If you know that someone would not use a service if they knew the cost involved it is dishonest to only inform them after you've allowed them to use said service.

In other words, it is unfair to charge people for a service without first making them aware of the charges that will be incurred. It is sneaky and dishonest and Virgin are making a lot of extra money off of this 'trick'. And I'm sure they will be losing a lot of customers due to this.

It seems to me that this is a deliberate ploy to boost earnings now at the expense of future customer retention. But maybe there is some decision maker at Virgin getting a bonus or a promotion in light of his/her contribution to an increase in short term profits. Many corporate structures incentivise this sort of behaviour. This really isn't a new story though it's frustrating nonetheless.

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Superuser
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Message 17 of 20
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

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Superuser
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Message 18 of 20
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

For Mobile Pay Monthly, the access charge is shown here:
https://store.virginmedia.com/virgin-media-mobile/pay-monthly/pay-monthly-call-charges.html

Access charge
58p per minute access charge for calls to service numbers that begin 084/087/09/118.

In here:
https://store.virginmedia.com/content/dam/eSales/Downloads/mobile-tariff-guide_v5.pdf

And here (in the Billing tab of the online Your Account):

access charges.PNG

**********************************
I work for Virgin Media - but all opinions posted here are my own
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Yafster1
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Message 19 of 20
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

I know that this information is written somewhere. Again, my complaint is that Virgin must know that many of us do not know that we will be charged for this and that we wouldn't make such long calls to such expensive numbers if we did know. Therefore, they should ensure that we are aware of the charges. Burying this information somewhere deep in a contract or on one of their many online pages does not ensure that we are informed. An automated voice message would be appropriate. 

Virgin is surely aware that many of us are being surprised by these fees. If they are comfortable profiting through ambushing us then something is deeply wrong about their values and morals.

The fact that we are being surprised by these fees cannot be disputed. As this and many other threads show many people are unaware until after they've placed the calls. 

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Superuser
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Message 20 of 20
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Re: Calls to Service Numbers (084) are charged outrageously

The first link I posted is published on the Shop pages which is where people go before they buy a phone from Virgin Mobile - and this link is on every sales page show as follows:

To find out how much you’ll pay for calls, texts and data which aren’t included in your plans, please take a look at our call charges.

Details about access charges are also on the General Mobile terms on the bottom of every Virgin Mobile sales page:

Calls to service numbers: The cost of calling 084, 087, 118 and 09 is formed of a combined access and service charge: we set the access charge and the company you’re calling set the service charge. Your access charge for these numbers will be shown on your bill and is currently 36p per minute for Pay As You Go and 58p per minute for Pay Monthly. The service charge will be advertised by the company that you are calling.

So you are provided the details of the charge before you make any purchase from Virgin Mobile

The Your Account page is where you see your monthly bill details, and this always shows the current access charge and any variation if it changes as you can see above.I would not call any of these places 'buried'.

In regards to the voice message, it would be dependent on whether Virgin Mobile are allowed by OFCOM to place a message like that before a call, and if so on which number ranges. The only time I've ever heard on any provider it is when 0800 numbers used to be chargeable, and that was to warn that the number definitely wasn't free from a mobile.

**********************************
I work for Virgin Media - but all opinions posted here are my own
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