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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Co-operative Revolution - still stuck in the past!

I fully support the Co-Operative movement as reflected by its current "Revolution" campaign. It aims to give power to all through co-operative endeavour for mutual benefit, unlike the "Big Society" which offers power to those having the time, skills and other resources to replace that exercised by democratically accountable bodies.

The Co-Operative movement must however move forward with its use of telephone numbers. 0845, 0844 and 0800 numbers dominate its lists of contact points. This policy fails to reflect the fact that BT now originates only around 25% of non-business telephone calls.

The least well-off tend to use mobile telephones and therefore incur surcharges of up to 41p per minute, over the cost of a call to an ordinary (01/02/03) number, to call these expensive 08 numbers. Even landline users commonly pay high premiums to call 0845 and 0844 numbers.

There is no justification for public bodies like HMRC and DWP sticking with 0845 numbers. It is totally unacceptable for NHS GPs, NHS Direct and some hospitals and other NHS bodies to use 0845 and 0844 numbers.

In the spirit of a Revolution, now is the time for the Co-Operative movement to show that it is up to date and ready to set a lead by revising its telephone numbering policy.

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