I like companies with 0800 numbers. To me it’s like they’re saying: ‘Give us a ring, we’re happy to talk to you and it won’t cost you a penny.’ Well, unless you’re calling from a mobile that is.
Until today, 0800 numbers were only free to call from a landline – not much use if, like me, you don’t have one – undermining their ‘freephone’ status in my eyes.
Thankfully, this glaring inconsistency has finally been ironed out and all freephone numbers (those that start 0800 or 0808) are now free to call from mobiles as well as landlines.
Clearer charges for 084, 087, 09 and 118 calls
The move is part of UK Calling, the biggest change to telephone calls in more than a decade. This also sees the cost of calling other numbers, such as those starting 084, 087, 09 or 118, made clearer.
It’s never been much help to non-BT customers to be told that ‘calls cost 12p per minute from a BT landline but may vary from other landlines and cost considerably more from mobiles’.
This is now changing. The cost for calling higher-rate numbers is being split between an ‘access charge’ (money that goes to your phone provider) and a ‘service charge’ (set by the firm you’re calling).
Each provider sets its own access charge and tells its customers, while companies must specify their service charge when advertising a phone number. So you’ll now see messages like Calls cost 10p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.’
Clearer charges but will calls be cheaper?
Clearer prices are surely a good thing. It should make it easier for you to understand the cost of making a call – by adding the two charges together.
But you’ll still need to know your phone company’s access charge. And will the overall cost be cheaper than the ambiguous prices some people have been stung with before?
Our executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘Providers now need to be crystal clear with customers about their access charges for other 08 and 09 numbers so people can compare costs and know in advance what they will be billed.’
Would you switch to a different phone provider simply because it has lower access charges? Or will you still try to avoid 084, 087 and 09 numbers at all costs?