How much does a phone call cost? Here’s how we could know when dialling
Do you ever use freephone numbers? They’re a great way for companies and services to allow customers to contact them without having to pay a packet for the privilege. Except if you use a mobile phone – as most of us do – you’ll have been charged a bundle every time you use a Freephone number.
In other words, Freephone numbers aren’t free at all. Unless you call from a BT landline, that is.
Confused? That’s just the start of it. There are a bewildering array of what are known as non-geographic numbers all seemingly designed to trick you into paying a hefty premium when you make a call.
But that’s set to change. 0800 phone number are to be made free from all phones while the telecoms watchdog plans to force firms to tell customers exactly how much they will be charged when they use 0845 and other non-geographic numbers.
Calls to numbers starting 08, 09 and 118 will be standardised with a single “access charge” plus a service charged set by the business that is being called.
That’s great news – apart from the fact that Ofcom has given firms at least 18 months to comply.
I spent several hours scratching my head this morning trying to work out an easy way to understand how much you’ll be charged when you call one of these numbers. Ofcom publishes a helpful guide – which runs to three A4 pages and simply serves to confuse the reader even more.
But there is a simple solution which could clear up charges confusion for good.
It’s this. Make all 08 numbers relate to their cost. So all 0800 numbers are free. But 0801 numbers should be 1p a minute, 0802 2p a minute, and so on. That would leave 0845 numbers at 45p a minute and pretty clear that they are a bit of a rip-off.
You could take it further to premium rates 09 numbers, which are used by the likes of entertainment chat lines and TV reality shows. If 0900 numbers were set at £1 a minute, then 0901 would be £1.01 and so on.
The watchdog has given firms 18 months to get their act together. Surely that is time enough to switch to a more sensible consumer-friendly system of numbers?
Just the process of dialling such numbers would reveal how expensive they are. And then, hopefully, it would persuade people to choose cheaper ways to call.
For instance, the website www.saynoto0870.com lists cheaper alternatives for 0500, 0800, 0808, 0842, 0843, 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871, 0872 and 0873 numbers.Tagged in: 0800, BT, mobile, Ofgem, phone numbers
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