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Thursday, 19 August 2010

UCAS Premium Rate Telephone number - an alternative is available

Many are advertising the premium rate telephone number used by UCAS – 0871 468 0 468 – without the proper additional price information that should be provided when promoting this chargeable premium rate service. Phonepay Plus, which regulates these services on behalf of Ofcom, demands that “Pricing information is one of the fundamental pieces of information that premium rate promotional material must display”.

Please note that BT offers reduced regulated rates for calls to this number and is therefore not a typical example to use as an illustration of the cost.

There is an alternative number available – 01242 545701 – which provides limited access to exactly the same service. This is NOT a premium rate number. It provides a much cheaper way of accessing the service, especially for the majority (75%) who call from mobiles and non-BT landlines, as well as those who benefit from call inclusive packages from BT and others. It must be noted that the capacity of this alternative number is limited and so callers may receive the engaged tone.

I am happy to engage in debate on whether UCAS should be funded by students who use the service.

I would also be keen to express my views on whether it is fair that those who can afford to hang on whilst paying a premium rate should get a better service than those who are only able to afford the alternative, with the risk of getting engaged tone.

I see this as part of the wider issue; which includes NHS providers, HMRC and DWP agencies obtaining funding from service users by use of expensive telephone numbers.

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