Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, was delighted by the announcement that, following representations which he made on behalf of constituents, the Student Loan Company is to cease their use of 0845 higher-rate numbers for student enquiries.
Following a meeting with local student Emma Laurence, pictured, Mark was able to make representations on behalf of all the local students who had signed Emma’s petition calling for the company to act fairly when dealing with enquiries.
In a letter to Mark, Mick Laverty, the Chief Executive of the Student Loans Company apologised for the expense which students may have previously incurred using the previous 0845 number, explaining:
“We used 0845 telephone numbers as our contact centres operate across several locations throughout the UK. Using the 0845 numbers allowed us to route calls to the next available advisor at any location, ensuring they were answered as quickly as possible.
However, following a review of our phone lines, I am happy to report that from 31 March 2014, we have switched all non-geographic contact telephone numbers we use from 0845 numbers, to 0300 numbers. This will allow us to continue to route calls across the various sites we have in operation and at the same time, reduce the cost of the call for our customers. I hope that all customers using this method of contact find this change beneficial. I would also encourage people to use our social media channels to contact us and access the web (www.gov.uk/studentfinance) which provides information on our most common enquiries.”
Commenting on the news, Mark Reckless said:
“I am delighted that, following my representations on behalf of students in my constituency, the Student Loans Company has taken a pragmatic approach in reviewing the call charges which many students were incurring while making necessary enquiries.
The new 03 numbers allow organisations to have a single national point of contact without consumers having to pay extra to call them and cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and also must count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls. The rules on 03 numbers apply to calls from any type of line including mobile, BT, other fixed line or payphone.
This is good news for students in Rochester and Strood. I would like to thank Mike Laverty of the Student Loans Company for his prompt response to my representations. I would also like to thank and congratulate my constituent Emma Laurence who raised this matter with me in the first instance. I hope that this change will be of real financial benefit to those seeking to further their education and better themselves, wherever they may be.”