Expensive 1850, 1890, 0818 numbers and the EU Consumer Rights Directive


Registered User
For many years, consumers have complained about the excessive cost of calling 1850, 1890 and 0818 telephone numbers.

These are generally non-inclusive in call bundles and expensive to call from mobile phones.

Irish consumers recently had a chance to stop businesses using these expensive numbers for their customer service helplines when the EU Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU) was transposed into Irish law as the EUROPEAN UNION (CONSUMER INFORMATION, CANCELLATION AND OTHER RIGHTS) REGULATIONS 2013 (aka 2013/si484). These new regulations take effect on 13 June 2014.

Article 21 of the EU Directive requires post-sale customer helplines to be charged at no more than "basic rate".

This definition obviously includes ordinary geographic numbers and freephone numbers. The definition also allows mobile phone numbers in as much as they are often free to call from other mobiles and are the primary contact point for many small and independent traders.

This was Ireland’s big opportunity to have the various non-geographic "shared cost", "national rate"[sic], "local rate"[sic], and "lo-call"[sic] numbers excluded from the "basic rate" definition. While that wouldn’t have prevented these numbers being used for sales lines, it would have been the beginning of the end for this quite blatant rip off. However, and quite bizarrely, the Irish national legislation defines these expensive numbers as being "basic rate".

This appears to go against the basic principles of the EU Directive. Consumers will continue to be ripped off, but now with the apparent full backing of a "consumer protection" law that says it’s OK to do so. What went wrong at the consultation stage in May 2013?

How did this nonsense ever get through and into the published legislation? Were ComReg consulted on this? What was their advice?

It is worthy of note that the equivalent consumer protection legislation in the UK defines "basic rate" as geographic (01, 02), geographic-rate (03), standard mobiles (07) and freephone (080) numbers. The "basic rate" definition excludes various non-geographic numbers with a Service Charge (084 and 087). Some of these numbers were previously known as "national rate" (0870) and "local rate" (0845). The UK definition also excludes various "fixed fee" numbers and all Premium Rate numbers (090, 091 and 098). It also excludes various other numbers such as 055, 056 and 070.

The UK government has also banned itself from using expensive and non-inclusive 084 and 087 numbers. Many departments have already moved to new 030 numbers or to replacement 034 numbers.
Pathetic. Apart from the cost, when using some VoIP services that would give calls to geographic numbers practically for free, most of these non-geographic numbers can't be called at all!

Is there anything that can be done, or anyone who can be lobbied, to reverse this silly decision?
In fairness to NCTS they have changed to a "01" area code number which is accessible at no additional cost from most bundles.

ESB electric ireland and other service providers claim to pick up the cost of calls to their 1850 numbers after two minutes, but that still leaves the caller / customer with a call cost.
Is there anything that can be done, or anyone who can be lobbied, to reverse this silly decision?

Presumably it's these people:

The National Ombudsman of Ireland examines complaints about the administrative actions of Government Departments, the Health Service Executive, local authorities and An Post.

Office of the Ombudsman
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
Tel: +353 1 678 5222
Fax: +353 1 661 0570
Website: www~ombudsman~gov~ie/
one thing i tend to do is find the company s landline number, sometimes this is also the number a person phones if they are abroad,people have so many free minutes on their mobiles these days it does not cost anything to phone these..
When I try today to access the 'Say No to 1890' site today I can't get in to site - it tells me FORBIDDEN - You don't have permission to access.................on this server. Is there an issue or what's the problem? I frequently rely on this site - it's excellent.
The Public Services Card Helpdesk is an 1890 number. There is no landline listed for it and the address is only a PO box number in Leitrim. God help anyone who has to hold the line to wait for an operator as for Vodafone the rates are:
"1890 LoCall mobile to mobile
Mobile to mobile rate charged as per your price plan. Peak/off peak rates apply."