Thursday, 16 August 2007

Please don't hide the full costs

This makes me so mad!! I signed up for some fr*ee 'preview' phone calls earlier today. Basically these calls (5 in total) are previews of a quite expensive workshop and so, naturally, would contain quite a lot of advertising about the main event. I don't have a problem with that at all. The calls were called 'Masterclasses' which might be stretchng a point, but I could live with that too.

What really gets me is that, after I had signed up (out of curiosity for what the competition was up to!), the confirmation details revealed that I would have to dial an 0871 or 0870 number to access the calls (and the recording). In case you're not aware, these numbers are charged at a national rate of 8p per minute and the proceeds go to whoever has registered the number. So, phoning in for this 'Masterclass' would cost me about £5 an hour. Not a fortune you might say, and what's the woman complaining about but, multiply that by the number of people signing up, and by the number of calls (5 calls @ £25 per person) and someone's got a nice little earner!

I bought an 0870 telephone number several years ago, before I was aware of the facts (incidentally, I was not the recipient of the proceeds, the company I signed up with were!). Once I found out the facts, I did two things. The first was to stop using the 0870 number and use my normal geographic number; the second was to register the 0870 number with a website that is opposed to exactly the sort of practice I'm ranting about!

They are at and you can find the geographic number 'behind' the 0870, 0871 etc. number (if it's been registered). If you have a special package with your telephone provider, you'll find that non-geographic numbers (including 0845 and 0844) aren't covered so you have to pay the full rate for any calls made.

I emailed the provider of these 'Masterclasses' and asked for the geographic number, to be told that there 'wasn't an alternative number' but that I could dial in for the recording. I am not impressed. I do a lot of my learning through teleclasses (they don't interfere with my working day and there is no travel!) and most of these are run on US bridge lines that you can dial into for around 1-2p per minute (if you use a provider like One-Tel and dial a prefix before the international number) - even UK companies are using these US lines to keep costs down for their clients. I call an hour's teleclass for under £2 good value and I'm happy to pay it.

You may have gathered that I feel strongly about these seemingly small extra charges. What I object to is not the charge itself (tell me it's going to cost £5 and I can decide if I want to pay). What I do object to is the 'stealthy' way that I am being charged and someone else is profiting. This is not the first time I've come across this practice.

Needless to say, I will not be dialling in to these so-called fre*e Masterclasses. With regard to this rant, thank you for reading to the end! Normal blogging service will be resumed when I have stopped fuming, which will probably be just after the next glass of wine.

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