I very rarely read the Daily Mirror, but using my National Assembly Bus pass on the train today (thanks IWJ), I picked up a copy of Monday's edition. (You need to look at the "clean carriages" issue IWJ).
Amongst all the usual celeb crap there was one very worrying item in the paper:
Most people, who I know, always make the same complaint about BT telephone bills - the bill was huge but the actual cost of the calls was a negligible part of the bill. It's the "extras" that cost! Because of this problem, apparently over 2 million households no longer have a land line, they depend on mobiles alone.
Those who have given up the land line tend to be those who are on the lowest incomes.
But government cut backs mean that many services that use to be available through your local benefit office are now only available on the phone.
For example Social Fund Crisis Loans for all of Wales are now dealt with through the Llanelli Office. If you Live in Holyhead, Wrexham, Monmouth or Cardiff, and many other parts of Wales, you have no choice but to phone Llanelli to apply for a crisis payment.
The number is an 0800 one, costs nothing from a BT land-line. BUT you pay full network rates if you call from a mobile. If you get through, the cost of listening to "Greensleeves" (or other tinny music) and being told that "you have now moved down one place in the queue of 43 who are waiting" can cost a fortune. Sometimes it can cost much more than the value of the benefit that you want to claim.
According to the Mirror report calls to the Department of Work and Pensions (the benefits and unemployment service) cost mobile phone users up to £400,000,000 lastyear!
Some tips to anybody who finds themselves with this problem.
1) If you have friends or family with a land line, ask them to let you use their phone to make free 0800 calls.
2) 0800 calls are free from call boxes as well as land lines (if you can find an unvandalised one and can stand the smell of stale urine for 90 minutes)
3) JobCenter+ offices must, and CAB's might, allow you to use their phones to make free calls to benefit providers
4) Ask your local Labour Party representative why the Labour Party, of all parties, has allowed such a situation to arise!