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The benefits of an 0844 number (public)

This article is primarily aimed at our support groups as they use 0844 numbers to allow people to contact them without revealing their home phone number. However some of the information below can answer the common questions that people may have about contacting FMA UK on an 0844 number

Q. What does an 0844 number do?
A. At its very basic an 0844 number redirects a call to another number. So for example you call 0844 123 4567. This could connect to 01234 456 567. To change where it goes to, an email could be sent to the office and it would be diverted to another number e.g. 01234 999 888.

You can see a visual representation of how it works here.

Q. Why does FMA UK use 0844 numbers for its helplines rather than use Geographic numbers e.g. 01/02?
A. FMA UK does not operate a centralised call centre. It relies on volunteers around the UK recieving calls at certain times of the day on their own phones at no cost to them. In order for this to work and FMA UK to provide the helpline to people with fibromyalgia we need to use the facilities offered by an 0844 number.

Q. Why would you want one?
A. This redirection ability allows you to have a public number for a group or helpline and retain privacy for your personal land-line number. On top of this we can easily change the number in the event of a change of staff or role, or to provide cover for illness or a holiday.

Also posters have a habit of persisting and it is not unknown for someone to call a number that is 5 years old and if this was the land-line then it would potentially be annoying a former group member.

We have had situations in the past and recently as well due to private numbers. Below are 2 real examples of issues that have been faced:

1. A group contact had used a private number for all contact in regards to the group and then became ill. They tried for some time to have numbers removed from various websites that it had appeared on but it was on a lot of health directories, old posters and elsewhere. This caused a great deal of additional stress and anguish that made their condition worse.

2. A group had a change of committee and the new committee wanted all communications to come to the new group contact. The outgoing group leader no longer wanted any contact to do with group business. Because a private home number was used the problem of old posters and info on websites meant that the changeover was protracted and had additional stress attached to it.

The use of an 0844 number in either of these examples would have solved the situation easily and quickly.

An 0844 number would have been easy to redirect and avoid both of these situations.

Q. Whats the cost to your group / helpline?
A. They are completely free and we will endeavour to keep them free of charge for groups.

These numbers are sometimes sold for a monthly charge of £10 or a setup fee of £50 or more. However through our partners we can provide these at no cost to groups.

Q. Whats the cost to the end user?
A. The person that calls the number will be able to call for free if they are on a BT or other providers call plan that supports it. More call plans include 08XX numbers now. However the normal charge is 5p per minute from a landline.

Q. Does FMA UK make any money from these numbers?
A. No

Q. Are there any other benefits?
A. Yes there are quite a few other advanced benefits available that may become available to groups. For instance we can do the following:

  • Allow multiple land-line numbers to be rung when the 0844 number is called allowing multiple calls to be handled
  • Allow after a certain amount of rings for the call to be diverted to an voicemail that is delivered by email
  • Allow the call to be diverted to a recorded message.
  • Allow the number to carry out some of the above tasks dependant on the time of day

Q. Are these these advanced benefits available to groups?
A. They are not available to groups at present and will be initially tested and used on core FMA UK numbers like the National helplines. If and when these are available to groups we will let groups know. However these are just some of the benefits that will come with the change to the 0844 number range.

Q. Who does the 0844 number belong to?
A. The 0844 number is allocated to groups that have registered to FMA UK and agreed to follow our guidelines. If a group is no longer registered with FMA UK then the number will revert to FMA UK. The number remains the property of FMA UK.

Q. Can I find out how many people call me on this number?
A. Statistics are available upon request but these will be dealt with only when spare time is available.

Q. Can I point my number to my mobile?
A. Unfortunately this is not possible as there would be a cost for the onward call from the 0844 number to your mobile that could easily be 15p per minute or more depending on provider.

Q. How can I change the number that my 0844 number points to?
A. It’s very simple. Fill out this form here or email head office, quoting your name, your group name, the 0844 number(s) in question and the new land-line number that you would like the 0844 number to point to and we will do the rest. When the change is implemented it instantaneous but please allow 2 days for the change to be actioned. Please check your number is active by calling it after it has been actioned.

Do you have any other questions relating to our 0844 numbers? If so please get in touch and we will do our best to answer them.

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