Mobile user paying the price for lo-call


SOUNDING OFF:A reader by the name of Mannix got in touch last week wondering if anyone else had a problem with lo-call phone numbers?

“I pay O2 a monthly fee for unlimited calls to landlines and mobiles, which is fine,” he writes. “However, I have a very high usage on the phone during the day. I have to ring a lot of business and Government agencies which are now only giving out lo-call numbers.”

He says that if he just rang a normal landline he would incur no costs when ringing these numbers, but, because he has to ring numbers which start with either 1850 or 1890, “I am getting charged very high rates. To be fair to 02, these numbers are not included in the package. Why are so many businesses using these numbers? Why are they being advertised as lo-call, when they are the exact opposite?,” he wants to know.

It certainly is a problem. A survey of 21 Government departments and agencies carried on by (or at least on behalf of) Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar earlier this year found they all had lo-call numbers, but few alerted callers to the cost of calling the numbers with mobiles. Calling from a landline costs less than five cent per minute, but calling from a mobile can cost more than six times that amount.

None of the mobile providers includes calls to lo-call numbers in their bundled minutes; they charge a range of prices of up to 35 cent a minute. When we asked why, we got broadly similar, if not entirely convincing, answers from all the providers. The operators say they are excluded because they are “non-standard calls” and the exclusion “is standard industry practice”.

Laser targeted

Alison McDonald has noticed over the last couple of weeks that Bank of Ireland has started to debit her account for Laser transactions the day that she makes them under the title “Laser trx”. A couple of days later the name of the shop/business replaces the

“Laser trx” description as the money has gone through to them.

“This means that BOI have use of my money for the lapse in time. I contacted BOI and they said that the change had been made to make it easier to keep track of my balance as the money is taken out at once. Maybe so, but I still think it is sharp practice . . .”

TV stand price fall

Jackie Barker went into Currys last Monday looking to buy a Techlink TV stand.

“I was told that the store had none in stock; however, they had some in their Navan store which were priced at €349.”

Our reader asked whether the Newry store had any in stock as that was much closer to their home.

“The assistant said that Newry did have some in stock. I went up to the Newry store and to my delight the same item was £149 a saving of €180 – not bad in these recessionary times.”

Barker asked the manager to explain the price discrepancy but he couldn’t other than to say “he knew that many products were cheaper in Newry, he said that most widescreen TV’s were cheaper by £200 ! It was worth the 15-minute drive. Needless to say I shall be trying Newry first in future.”