How much does a phone call cost? Here’s how we could know when dialling

Simon Read

SimonPhones e1366122427514 225x300 How much does a phone call cost? Heres how we could know when diallingDo 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 lists cheaper alternatives for 0500, 0800, 0808, 0842, 0843, 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871, 0872 and 0873 numbers.

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  • pdso

    Whatever happened to AD&C ( – advise duration and cost) that was in use some years back?

  • Blaggerr2011

    “In other words, Freephone numbers aren’t free at all. Unless you call from a BT landline, that is”

    I have been pointing this out for YEARS as the Customer of Virgin Media. So BLOODY Ofcom has woken up at last.

    Actually, this change has come about as a RESULT of charities campaign to get the 0800 numbers to be FREE phones given the mobile phone has replaced the land-line as the main form of telephony communication.

    Take the new 0300 public services FREE phone number it is NOT free from non-BT lines.

  • Chippychap

    Regulators are put there by HMG to let us think that we have some say or control over the utilities.WE DON’T

  • MuffinTheMule

    Everyone knows by now that the ‘regulator’ of every single cartel in the country is in fact the device by which government enables the cartels smooth the public’s ruffled feathers over rip-off monopolistic pricing while the cartels continue to merrily rip the public off.

    What we desperately need is a mechanism for appointing regulators that is not under government control, so that we may at long last be able to appoint people determined to act in the interest of the public. 18 months to introduce a little bit more transparency is a bit better than the many years to introduce a small measure of transparency into energy pricing.

    Perhaps what we really need is a POLITICAL revolution that will clear all of this corrupt garbage from our society and let fresh air into the country for the first time in many years. It’s time to get rid of the Westminster Party!

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