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ombudsman news

issue 129

October 2015

I'm a bit confused about which of your phone numbers to use. What's the difference - and which will be cheapest?

We’ve had three different numbers since we were set up - as numbers that are low-cost or free from all types of phone have only gradually become available over the years. 

We haven’t promoted our original 0845 number since we’ve been able to offer a cheaper 0800 number, which is free from landlines. Until recently our 0300 number was the cheaper option from mobiles - free for people with a package of phone minutes and charged at local rates on pay-as-you-go.

But since July this year, 0800 numbers have been free from mobiles as well as landlines. So that’s probably going to be the cheapest option for most people from now on - and one we’ll encourage people to use. If someone tells us they’re worried about the cost of calling us, we’ll always offer to call them instead.

Meanwhile, some people continue to prefer to call us from a payphone - 2,567 did so last year.

I heard that you’ve started asking businesses for information within three days. Is that right?

A few months ago - in ombudsman news 125 - we explained the challenge of meeting people’s changing expectations of the services they use. Both for us and for the businesses we cover, that’s partly about speed. At a time when technology means people can manage their money in seconds, it’s hard to justify taking months to resolve problems.

So if you’re someone we talk to on a regular basis, you might have noticed we’re asking for some things in a shorter time-frame than before. But it won’t be three days “across the board”. In fact, we think rigid processes are in completely the opposite direction to the one we need to be heading in.

Instead, we think about the nature of the information - and the nature of the problem - when deciding what’s a reasonable timeframe. It doesn’t make sense to set a three week deadline for information in writing if a short phone call could move things forward the same day.

We appreciate there will be times when it isn’t easy to find what we’ve asked for - for example, where there are other parties you need to contact. But generally, you’ll of course have the information from your own investigation of the complaint. If you let us know about any difficulty as soon as you can, we can agree a realistic date.

ombudsman news

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