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Calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers cost HOW much?

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Now might not be the best time to call 0845 and 0870 numbers – calling them from mobile phones has increased by as much as 100%.

It’s a good job most companies have been banned from using pricey 084 and 087 numbers for their customer service lines (thanks to our Costly Calls campaign), because calling them from your mobiles is now even more expensive.

New scheme hikes your phone bill

Ofcom’s new ‘UK Calling’ scheme splits revenue-sharing calls into an access charge (set by the phone provider) and a service charge (set by the company you’re calling) to try and make things clearer.

But there’s a downside – the cost of calling 0845 and 0870 numbers has significantly increased on many phone networks. In fact, some mobile phone providers have upped their call charges by more than 100%, according to our research.

Cost of calling 0845 numbers from mobilesTake Vodafone as an example. It increased charges in August for revenue-sharing numbers to 45p per minute, plus a service charge. Compare that to June, when customers would have paid just 14p per minute to call 0845 and 0870 numbers.

Vodafone told us:

‘We informed all customers of these changes, and any impacted by more than 10% [of their total bill] were entitled to cancel their agreement without penalty.’

O2 is also guilty of hiking the cost of these calls – from 20.4p per minute in June to 45p per minute, plus a service charge in August. And Three is raising its charges from 25p to 45p in November.

Nothing good about calling 0845/0870

Most landline providers we looked at have set their access charge for calls that aren’t included as part of a package to within a couple of pence of their previous charges for calling 0845/0870.

Yet once you add the service charge on top (up to 7p per minute for 0845 and up to 13p per minute for 0870), the cost of calling these phone numbers will often be significantly more from landlines as well.

And some companies, such as TalkTalk and Utility Warehouse, have even scrapped inclusive calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers in reaction to UK Calling.

Have you already been stung by the new call charges to these numbers?

Useful links

Cheap alternatives to 0870 and 0845 calls
My phone bill is too high, how do I challenge it?

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I had a look at my tariff and it refers to free calls to 084 and 087 numbers. The service provider can waive their access charge but they have no control over the charge made by the other party. I have asked them to correct the information on their website.

I have rarely called 08 numbers from a mobile, though I know that 0800 calls are now free.

Member

Both 0800 and 0808 are free.

Calls to 0500 numbers are free from landlines, but not from mobiles. The 0500 range will be discontinued on 3 June 2017.

Users have until then to move to the matching 0808 5 number or to some other number of their choosing.

Member

wavechange said: “I had a look at my tariff and it refers to free calls to 084 and 087 numbers.”

I would hope that it describes them as ‘inclusive’. These calls are never ‘free’. Describing them as ‘free’ would fall foul of ASA rules.

There is a world of difference between a ‘free’ call (such as 080, 111, 112/999, 116) and an ‘inclusive’ call (usually 01, 02, 03, etc).

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Morally you are right but in realistic -down to earth -practical terms because of my contract those calls are free to me and the others who have the same contract as me. A set price if you use the service frequently will always be cheaper than paying per call otherwise there is no point to it.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Point taken, Ian. I have checked and the tariff does refer to free calls subject to a fair usage policy.

It might help to require service providers to use standard wording and explanation of terms so that there is no possibility of doubt.

Member

Providers are already required to be clear in their use of wording.

Existing ASA rules do not allow ‘inclusive’ calls to be described as being ‘free’.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Another service I have from BT is a set price on the rental for=unlimited calls to UK landlines for up to an hour (each ) (01/02 etc ) +local ,half price(pence/minute ) calls to UK mobiles ,inclusive calls to 0845/0870 numbers for up to an hour (each ) . I can talk from one end of the country to the other without worrying about the meter mounting up a high charge.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Our BT package includes ‘free’ calls to 0870 and 0845 lines for up to an hour, but a BT technician did tell me, recently, that BT are also including 0345 numbers as so many companies are moving towards those in preference to the others. Not holding my breath on that until I see it in print, however.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Have I missed something? Is BT (and my service provider) paying for the service charge that the recipient is entitled to charge? Maybe I was premature in contacting my service provider. 🙁

Profile photo of Ian
Member

We’ve never been charged for calls to 0870 or 0845 numbers since taking the package. But we’ll continue to monitor things, as they do seem to be changing.

Member

Calls to 084 numbers incur a Service Charge of up to 7p per minute (up to £4.20 per hour).

Calls to 087 numbers incur a Service Charge of up to 13p per minute (up to £7.80 per hour).

When a provider offers inclusive calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers, the caller does not pay the Service Charge. This is instead funded from non-transparent increases in line rental, inclusive call plans and non-inclusive calls paid by all other customers of that provider. Those who do not call these numbers are subsidising those who do.

It is no surprise that the largest supplier of 0845 numbers to businesses is BT. They sell these numbers to businesses on the basis that they are “free (inclusive) from a BT line” all the while ensuring that they collect the Service Charge revenue for all calls that come from other landline providers and from mobiles.

Inclusive calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers must cease. The caller that makes use of the chargeable service should be the one that pays the Service Charge for the call they made. It should not be subsidised by other callers.

Member

Calls to 03 numbers cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers and count towards inclusive allowances on landlines and on mobiles.

This Ofcom rule has been in place since 2007. There is no known non-compliance.

Member
eric mason says:
8 November 2015

I have 24/7 daytime calls (anytime calls) on my charges at £7.50 per month
BT have taken the thieving method of also charging me for all landline calls which are included under Anytime calls
This is the third month I have insisted upon a refund of double charges, plus asking why BT cannot correct their methods Various promises to correct but no action yet
eric

Member

Although the Anytime call plan covers 01, 02 and 03 numbers, be aware that it does not cover 01534 Jersey, 01489 Guernsey and 01624 Isle of Man, nor does it cover calls that are longer than 60 minutes.

If you do not have BT Broadband on that line (either no broadband, or broadband from someone other than BT) you qualify for BT Home Phone Saver. This includes line rental, anytime inclusive calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers, half price calls to mobile numbers starting 071-075 and 077-079 (6p per minute instead of 12p per minute), caller ID, voicemail and several other features. Calls to premium rate 0845 and 0870 numbers are also included. The cost is £20.99 per month and is guaranteed until 2018.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Wavechange -taking my contract at “face value ” it seems that might be the case but as always I will have to read the small print to see if that is really the case. I too am dubious as to the real situation .

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Well I just checked MY BT and I dont seem to be charged for those calls and at the end of the day thats what counts . I can verify as I used =0345 numbers that BT has them down as “special service ” -No charge ! BT isnt as bad as a lot of people make out it might be a bit dearer in places compared to the competition but just look at some of the complaints on Which about other providers BT has a reputation to uphold its a prestige company with a lot more to lose than others and although it might take a while it gets there in the end I like stability .

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Thanks Duncan. Maybe I should have done my research before contacting my service provider (not BT). I try to apologise when I make mistakes.

Profile photo of MD
Member

A smartphone App called “WeQ4U” not only avoids those charges, but allows the caller to press 9* if the caller is put on hold in a wait queue. When an agent comes online, you are automatically reconnected. I’ve used it at least 20 – 30 times and it works great and never a charge, other than being counted against normal minutes if you simply called home. When a number is entered at the App, it starts by informing the caller if the number is a “good one”; i.e., if WeQ4U can make the call for you. I was given this recommendation by one of the gurus at my service provider and have used it for more than 2 years now. Other than the App adverts scrolling along the top and bottom of the smartphone display, there is no down side.

Member

The weQ4u app connects you directly to any 01, 02, 03 or 080 numbers that you dial.

For calls to 084 and 087 numbers it attempts to look up an alternative 01, 02, 03 or 080 number and call that.

Most organisations are scrapping their expensive 084 and 087 numbers, mostly by moving to the matching 034 or 037 number or to so some other 01, 02, 03 or 080 number. This being the case, there is hardly any need to go looking for alternative numbers for contacting an organisation.

Profile photo of KennethWatt
Member

Just a note on this topic, more for interest and perhaps a bit of balance that anything else.

My business used an 0845 number although we are phasing it out rapidly in light of legislative change and the fact that, I suspect like many, we did not know nor were made aware of the additional charges being levied by some telecoms companies.

Probably like many customers, were blissfully unaware about the extra charges being made by providers.

The idea sold to us and, it was at the time true, was that this was a non-geographical number that didn’t cost us much if anything but that allowed customers anywhere in the country to call for the price of a local call. I expect a number of businesses found the same and, whilst if cost a little to do this it wasn’t a lot and it offered customers a benefit reducing the cost of calling.

0870 and others are a different animal as many businesses do earn from calls made to those, a quick Google will provide typical rates.

For a business, these numbers allow us to change providers to lower charges, increase reliability of the service and so on and as such they have had a place as, with old BT geographical numbers, that was not an easy thing to do.

Now we’ve been asked if we want to switch to “03” numbers but, no thanks.

For two reasons really, one is that nobody knows what they are really and, the other is how long can a business be confident that these won’t suddenly become the Spawn of Satan also?

Now, at some cost and hassle, the number has to be changed back to a normal geo number and that’s fine for many other than the hassle of updating literature, letterheads, cards and all the rest but it kinda is annoying that, at least in my case, this was done to help people and reduce the cost of calling the business, not increasing it.

Now, by trying to do a good thing for customers it looks (to some maybe, on the face of it) as if we may have been not doing that, quite the reverse.

You may find many businesses as hacked off about this as customers might be. I know I am.

What seems to have happened, in my opinion and from my perspective, is that the mobile companies as well as some third party telecom providers have decided that these numbers carry a premium now that was never the intent of them in the first place. Now, if I was cynical, I might think that had something to do with the revenue they get from those calls or, don’t as the case may be.

Talking to the telephony guys though what’s become clear to me is that due to this and other changes, a lot of people probably haven’t got a clue what type of number that they’re calling, where and likely haven’t a clue what the charges are from landline and mobile.

Strikes me that things have gotten a lot more confused, not less in bid for “transparency” on charges.

K.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Kenneth, that post mirrors my own experiences exactly. I always believed that companies used 0845 precisely because it was the same cost as every local call. Now with many changing to 0345 it’s no longer as clear as to what will happen in the future.

Member

If you were given an assurance that the cost of calling an 0845 number was “the same as a local call” at any time after 1 August 2004, then it was, quite simply, not true.

However, it took Ofcom and ASA until 2005 to issue a note about this. More than a decade later, many sellers of 0845 numbers to businesses are still making that false claim.

Member

0845 numbers were ‘local rate’ calls only from BT landlines and only until 2004.

Changing to 0345, indeed changing to any 03 number, gives very long term and industry-wide clarity. Calls to 03 numbers cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers and count towards inclusive allowances on landlines and on mobiles. Revenue sharing is not permitted.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Kenneth – You may recall that in an earlier Conversation I pointed out that that the 0845 number for ISE was described as “local call rate”. Local call rate ceased to exist in 2004. You told me I was wrong – but I wasn’t.

One of the problems with 084/087 numbers (including 0845) is the cost of calls from mobile phones. My own service provider charges 45p per minute as the access charge and the business called can set their own service charge. I cannot recall the cost before the new charging structure, but it was expensive and I always used my landline to call companies, generally looking up a geographical alternative to any 08 number other than 0800.

You can carry on using 084/087 numbers for new business but not for customer service, including complaints. You must indicate the service charge wherever the number is advertised.

I am not surprised that consumers are confused but businesses and other organisations need to comply with he rules.

Profile photo of KennethWatt
Member

And, as I said before, also displayed was a geographical land line number so that there was another option, this is perfectly acceptable and legal.

The change was that, a business was not allowed to solely display an 08 number for customer service. This change from June 2014 I believe.

So far as I am aware and, I can find through research, the rates for 0845 numbers were not changed by OFCOM although, as you rightly point out other telecom providers may charge a levy on the customer as I understand it, pretty much as they please it would appear.

Again, as I understand it, this can vary a fair bit from one telecom provider to the next with no set rule.

That is not the fault of the businesses that are trying to help customers with a low tariff number. You’d have to take that up with each telecom provider.

I do think it a little harsh to have a pop at businesses trying to help customers only to have the rules altered on them with no notice.

Keep in mind that I, like many in business, are not telecoms experts and have no desire or time to be so. It can take a while to find out about these changes and, when you do, it can take a while to alter things, in some cases years for the changes to fully file through as literature etc is updated.

The changes can be made swiftly enough, no issue there but, you can’t go back in time and alter all that’s already out there.

K.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

As I have said, what I was objecting to was the use of the term ‘local call rate’. It does not matter now because the page has gone, although it can still be seen in internet archives.

I have no objection to companies charging for advice, and a good example would be those companies that provide computer support. In view of all the confusion over revenue sharing (the access and service charges don’t help in my view), I believe that charges should be divorced from calls and paid for – for example by debit/credit card or by subscription to a service.

Profile photo of KennethWatt
Member

Thing is wavechange, the business anyone calls using an 0845 earns the sum total of nothing from that number, not a bean.

It was explained to us as a low call rate for callers, equivalent to a local call. Many companies bill it as that to avoid people getting confused into thinking that it’s a premium rate number, which is is not, especially so when you call from a normal BT landline.

What charges mobile operators or whoever spank on top I can’t speak to, not my field.

So whilst you may object to the terminology the idea is to clarify for normal people that the number is not a premium rate one.

Additionally, it makes no odds anyway as businesses using 0845 don’t earn from the number whatsoever so, they’ll probably die out naturally over time.

I don’t have anything to do with premium rate numbers for support so I can’t offer any comment on them.

K.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I cannot comment on the business economics, but here is what Ofcom has to say on service charges: http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/phone/how-much-does-a-phone-call-really-cost/

As I have said, my mobile service charges me a 45p per minute access charge to call an 0845 number and I believe that others charge 52p. An 01, 02 or 03 number would cost me no access charge and no service charge. It has been alleged that companies use these and other 08 numbers to discourage enquiries, which can be expensive to deal with if they do not result in a sale.

The information at the top of this page gives an insight into the costs of calling 0845 numbers from mobiles. There’s a lot of people who don’t have landlines these days, and that’s not just young people.

Profile photo of KennethWatt
Member

I would think that the problem there is with the mobile companies and the charges that they levy, wouldn’t you? After all, why should they be able to charge such a considerable amount more than BT would to make the same call.

I think it begs the question, why are the charges from mobiles so disproportionately higher and not a question of businesses acting in some nefarious way given the point I made that, businesses do not earn a bean from the use of such numbers.

If a business doesn’t want calls there’s easier ways to deal with that problem that doing this, it’s complex, brings no gain or benefit and only rattles people more so ultimately pointless but probably counter-productive.

What we have seen is a huge shift to mobile use, yes but, that’s only over the past five years or so that it’s really come to the fore whereas a lot of these numbers will have been in use for many years before the current trend in use took hold. Industry figures would suggest this is correct as mobile use has risen by 43% in the past four years alone.

I doubt that many, if indeed any, non-telecom companies could have foreseen the change in use or the alteration in charges all those years ago. They just did the best they could at the time.

K.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

There is a great deal of discussion about the rights and wrongs of the mobile phone industry and there are plenty of Conversations about it. I don’t understand why on a contract I pay the same company about the same for unlimited calls as I did per minute when I used PAYG (both excluding the cost of a phone).

The world of telecommunications is dynamic and it’s vital that those running companies and other organisations keep up to date with changes. Where legislation is involved, it does not happen overnight.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

wavechange -not having a cell-net phone bear with me .Are you saying the price your ISP charges for unlimited calls (which I take is a fixed price ) is near the same as a card use for PAYG ? Without the ISP name its guess-work working out the costs. I have unlimited calls on my landline at a fixed price on my contract with BT .

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I’m currently using Vodafone. I’m paying less than 50p per day for unlimited calls. My landline offers unlimited calls too, but only to landlines. I have to call people who are often out of the office, so that means calling mobile numbers. The other reason I moved from PAYG was to access websites on the phone and to use the phone for tethering. It saves carrying around a separate router to get my laptop online.

Calls on my old mobile cost 45p per minute because I was on an obsolete tariff. There are much cheaper PAYG offers now and I have an emergency phone in the car that costs 3p per minute. That’s on the Three network.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Thanks for the info your last paragraph interests me I have held back from buying a cell-net phone due to the 45p/min charges although due to my contract with BT I can have reduced charges on a mobile but the emergency phone that costs 3p/min interests me I will check on the Three network as I am not interested in a fancy expensive mobile phone just basic service.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

It’s worth going for a phone that is not locked to a particular network, so that you can switch service providers any time you want to.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Great info wavechange grateful for it !

Member

Although you may not “earn” anything, you still receive a financial benefit.

Before 1 July 2015, calls to 0845 numbers incurred an Enhanced Termination Rate of 2p per minute. The caller’s landline or mobile provider paid 2p per minute to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider.

This revenue paid for the additional call handling and call forwarding costs inherent in the use of a non-geographic number. To be clear, callers subsidise costs that would otherwise be incurred by the called party.

These numbers were offered “free” to tens of thousands of businesses, very few questioned what or who was paying for these service. Organisations with a high volume of incoming calls could also benefit from a revenue share payout of up to 0.5p per minute on 0845 numbers – more on other 084 and 087 numbers.

On 1 July 2015, the Enhanced Termination Rate was renamed as the Service Charge. Revenue sharing continued on 0845 numbers. Revenue sharing ceased on 0870 numbers on 1 August 2009 and was re-introduced on 1 July 2015. The Service Charge for 084 numbers (including 0845) can be anywhere from 1p to 7p per minute. The Service Charge for 087 numbers (including 0870) can be anywhere from 1p to 13p per minute.

All 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers are premium rate. The premium is the additional Service Charge. This premium has always existed (except on 0870 numbers from 1 August 2009 until 1 July 2015) but until now has not had to be separately declared.

Even now, some providers attempt to hide the truth by making some of these calls inclusive. It’s no surprise that one of them is the largest supplier of 0845 numbers to businesses.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Thanks Ian. My hope is that phone calls will become so cheap that no-one has to think about the cost before making a call.

Member

Wavechange said “My hope is that phone calls will become so cheap that no-one has to think about the cost before making a call.”

We are already at that point for calls to geographic numbers starting 01 and 02 and non-geographic numbers starting 03, irrespective of whether you call from a landline or from a mobile. The vast majority of these calls are made as part of an inclusive allowance. Each such call attracts no incremental cost.

It is also starting to become the case for calls from landlines to mobile numbers starting 071 to 075 and 077 to 079. Several landline providers already offer this and more will follow. Mobile phones have had inclusive calls to other mobile numbers for more than a decade.

Profile photo of KennethWatt
Member

“Although you may not “earn” anything, you still receive a financial benefit.”

I can assure you, 100%, that is not the case Ian.

Whether or not the telecoms companies gobbled up anything between themselves I have no clue.

But I can categorically state that there is no financial benefit from offering an 0845 number that I have ever seen or used. The cost of operation is/was no different to a standard geographic landline in call costs or line rental. The 0845 is simply a layer if you will on top of a standard landline, the service carries no cost to the business but offers no benefit either other than the non-geo number.

What was the case, was that customers calling from a normal landline outside the local vicinity didn’t get hit with higher call charges it was, in effect, more or less the same cost as a local call.

So, there was no financial benefit whatsoever to the business.

Not that I care now really as over the past twelve months I’ve been phasing them out due to the changes in telecoms and pricing. Between bundled call packages and the increased use in mobiles I think they’ve had their day.

Premium rate numbers, yes and telecoms providers do try to sell those (IME) to businesses, probably as they earn more commission from it overall but on a personal level, I don’t like them and refused to use those.

K.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Until everyone does phase out these numbers, some of us will keep looking up alternative numbers: http://www.saynoto0870.com/search.php

Member

Non-geographic numbers start with 03, 08 or 09. These numbers are simply call forwarding systems. They forward incoming calls to a (hidden) landline or mobile number belonging to the called party (or, in some cases, forward the calls via VoIP).

The company that runs the call-handling and call-forwarding system has to be paid for handling and forwarding any incoming calls. That non-geographic provider also has to pay termination fees to your landline or mobile provider (around 0.2p per minute for calls forwarded to landlines and around 0.7p per minute for calls forwarded to mobiles) whenever they forward a call.

The cost of providing a non-geographic number and the associated call-handling, ‘IVR’, and call-forwarding services is usually around 0.5p to 2p per minute if the calls are forwarded to a UK landline. The fees are a bit higher when forwarding incoming calls onwards to a UK mobile or to an overseas destination.

Where an organisation employs an 03 number for customers to call, the called party pays the call-handling and call-forwarding costs. Those with a very high volume of incoming calls can be paying as little as 0.3p per minute. The caller pays their landline or mobile provider for the call at the same rate as whatever they pay for calls to 01 and 02 numbers.

KennethWatt said: “But I can categorically state that there is no financial benefit from offering an 0845 number that I have ever seen or used.”

Where an organisation employs an 084 or 087 non-geographic number, it is the caller that pays for the call-handling and call-forwarding facilities. This money is collected by your non-geographic number provider through the additional Service Charge paid by the caller.

To be clear, the caller pays an Access Charge to their landline or mobile provider to connect and convey the call AND pays YOUR telecoms provider for the non-geographic call-handling and call-forwarding facilities that you wanted.

As it is the caller that has paid for these features, this reduces what you pay for the non-geographic call service. This is the “financial benefit” that you, err, benefit from.

KennethWatt said: “The cost of operation is/was no different to a standard geographic landline in call costs or line rental. The 0845 is simply a layer if you will on top of a standard landline, the service carries no cost to the business but offers no benefit either other than the non-geo number.”

This extra layer has to be paid for. Before 1 July 2015, the payment mechanism for this was hidden from callers by non-transparent call charging and was rarely explained to those who signed up to use these numbers for their business. Since 1 July 2015, declaration of this Service Charge makes this financial arrangement clear.

Where an organisation has a non-geographic number running at no cost to them, the costs are being met by additional charges paid by callers. BT attempts to hide this by making calls to 0845 (and 0870) numbers inclusive in call plans. BT spreads cost of the Service Charge across all BT subscribers, including those who never call these numbers.

KennethWatt said: “What was the case, was that customers calling from a normal landline outside the local vicinity didn’t get hit with higher call charges it was, in effect, more or less the same cost as a local call.”

This arrangement ended in 2004. Both Ofcom and ASA issued a note about this in 2005. There has now been no ‘local’/’national’ split on call costs for 01 and 02 numbers for more than a decade. Indeed, the vast majority of these calls are made through the allowances of an inclusive call plan. Since 2007, calls to 03 numbers have also joined this arrangement. With calls to 084 and 087 numbers being non-inclusive in call plans, callers were hit with extra charges to call these numbers. Since 1 July 2015, this extra Service Charge is now exposed for what it is.

KennethWatt said: “So, there was no financial benefit whatsoever to the business.”

Where 084, 087 and 09 numbers are used, there was, and there still is, a benefit to the business. This benefit is now separately declared as the Service Charge.

Aware of the reality, most businesses have now swapped their 084 and 087 lines over to the matching 034 or 037 number or to a new 01, 02, 033 or 080 number. Some organisations that qualify for 030 numbers now use those.

Ofcom’s changes effective 1 July 2015 confirm that all 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers are premium rate. The premium is the additional Service Charge paid to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider.

Profile photo of KennethWatt
Member

And again, my business received not a penny in renumeration for the use of these numbers. Nothing.

The only reason they were used was to try to limit the cost to customers of calling. To try to help people then, you get a kicking for it later… great! Perhaps businesses shouldn’t bother, it sometimes appears that trying to help people gets you nowhere.

People also had the option of openly published geographical lines in my case and often will in many if not most other but, as has been pointed out to me, some directory services online and off only list the 08 numbers, why I have no clue, you’d have to ask them that.

The bottom line however is that, you can perhaps make the argument that a non-geographic number was slightly cheaper to get/operate but to be honest with you, I don’t accept that argument as there’s no real tangible benefit other than to users. For the business at least, it’s a pointless thing and if the business wasn’t trying to lower the cost of people calling them then they serve no purpose.

K.

Member

At no point did I say that you were in receipt of a revenue share payment. Prior to 1 July 2015, on 0845 numbers, that would only happen if you had a large volume of incoming calls… such as HMRC, DWP, a major hospital, a major retailer or a bank.

When an organisation signs up for a non-geographic number, the called party’s choice of number decides who pays the running costs for that non-geographic call-forwarding service.

03 – service paid for by called party.

080 – service paid for by called party, who also pays an additional “Call Origination Fee” to compensate the caller’s landline or mobile provider for the fact that the caller paid nothing for the call.

084, 087, 09 – service paid for by callers through the imposition of an extra Service Charge added to the call cost; prior to 1 July 2015, this revenue stream (then known as the Enhanced Termination Rate) was undeclared and non-transparent.

In the case of 084, 087 and 09 numbers, for low volume lines, the “financial benefit” is not the receipt of cash, but the lack of a bill for the telecoms service that you signed up for. In getting the service for free, someone else is paying for it – in fact it is the callers that are paying for it.

The functions offered by non-geographic numbers offer no benefit to callers. All of the features (such as call queuing, dynamic call-routing based on call volume, time of day or day of week, etc) are wholly for the benefit of the called party in dealing with incoming calls.

Profile photo of KennethWatt
Member

Hi Ian,

I think the point may be obfuscated by your obvious involvement in telecoms.

My point is, the sole and only reason for using an 0845 number is as an attempt to reduce the cost of contact to customers. Doesn’t make a jot of difference to the bill I get, doesn’t generate any cost or revenue whatsoever for the business.

I couldn’t give a stuff about what, how or who handles the backend of that in the telecoms world, it’s entirely irrelevant to me. I simply do not care about that aspect as a business as, it’s not the business I am involved with.

All I want is to make both customers and my life easy and to not have customers paying for services they shouldn’t as, to my mind, that’s unfair on customers. That’s it.

I can’t offer 0800 numbers as, to do that I’d need to increase prices since that carries a cost. But, a “free” 0845 number that reduces the cost of customers calling is attractive. The presumption being that, the calls generate a very small revenue for the provider that covers the cost through volume deals levered with BT or whatever.

Call stats etc, never seen them. Not a service available IME on a basic 0845 number.

All you’ve detailed only (IMO) serves to demonstrate just how complex all this is. I don’t have the time nor the inclination to be an expert in the area of telecoms and I expect like many, I take the path of least resistance. You go for simple things, does it cost and if so what? Does it benefit or penalise customers, if so how?

All I know and, all I need to know is, that the premise of the 0845 numbers meant customers outside the local area paid less to call than they would routed through a normal BT call. That meant, a lower cost for customers to call for the most part other than within the same dialling code area.

The semantics of what different telecoms companies charge for access really isn’t my problem to be blunt. All I or, any other business, can do is the best I can for as many people as possible.

But, even if the 0845 number doesn’t receive a single call, there is no charge just as, doesn’t make a jot how many calls are received the business doesn’t receive any benefit.

It therefore makes no odds to me running a business to publish geographic and non-geographic numbers, totally irrelevant how people choose to call as either way, it is cost neutral.

For all I care, they can use Skype or whatever to call the number, to me, totally irrelevant. Whatever suits the customer.

Therefore the premise that “the lack of a bill for the telecoms service that you signed up for” simply, to my mind, holds no water as an argument as, either way, there’s no cost involved to the business using an 0845 number.

The only party that might benefit is the telecoms provider, sure.

Or, as you say, large organisations that can lever a deal based on mammoth call volumes.

I expect many, if not most. businesses would see this the way I do.

If businesses have been misled by the telecoms industry or indeed mis-sold the service then, they’ve every right to be just as aggrieved as customers over how the industry has handled the use and charging of calls to these numbers.

What irks me is simply that some people seem to think that this is businesses trying to rip them off, glean extra revenue or whatever when actually, the reverse is true. The businesses are probably trying to help people and getting stick over what the telecoms industry does and charges.

That is annoying at best, deeply offensive at worst.

K.

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And surprising to me :-))

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Kenneth ,if you dont mind me commenting, as I know you want a reply from Ian , I was with you up till the second last paragraph . Just last week a certain catalogue company which ,if you want , I will name, that my wife has dealt with in the past shot a new catalogue through the door one item attracted my wife so I went to order . In large letters the order form says= quote-we are open 24/7 -always ready to take your order every day phone -0845 ***** in small print at the bottom of the page – calls to this number will cost 13p/minute , I said (to myself ) you are not on mate ! It took me 5 minutes on the web to find a direct number (long distance ) but this number had been changed twice (to confuse the public ) .I eventually got it but it was working hours only 9-5pm -mon-fri using that number didnt cost me a bean as I have unlimited calls nationwide at a set contracted cost . It turns out anyway that BT didnt charge me for the 0845 call to them I made as a test call and as I posted here but that is not the point from a customers point of view I was at least “maneuvered” into going for the -0845 number which for the majority of UK citizens who dont have the call-plan I have it would end up a costly call because as you must know many companies put you on hold for 5/10 minutes and more before answering . That company is not alone I can supply many more just like it as I no longer live in a city but in a small fishing village and so do a lot of ordering over the phone thats why I got the BT calls contract built into my normal contract I do save money at the end of the day..

Member

Non-geographic number providers do not work for free. Their services cost and someone has to pay for them.

If a business selects a number that incurs no cost to the business (e.g. an 084 or 087 number), then that cost is transferred to callers and everyone else in the chain also adds a significant margin on top. This was all non-transparent until July this year. Since then, the additional cost to callers is separately declared as the Service Charge so that businesses have a clear view of what they are doing when they select an 084, 087 or 09 number.

If the business selects a number where the caller pays the same as calling an 01 or 02 number (e.g. an 03 number) then the business picks up the cost of the non-geographic call services (usually about 1p per minute).

Looking at BT’s retail prices adds confusion to the picture. BT, as the largest supplier of 0845 numbers to businesses, tweaks the retail cost (for BT customers only) of calls to these numbers to try to make them look cheaper than they really are. They sell these numbers to businesses on the basis that they are “inclusive from a BT landline”.

When called from BT landlines without an inclusive call plan, from other non-BT landlines and from mobiles, the caller has to pay both an Access Charge and a Service Charge making the call very much more expensive than a call to an 01, 02 or 03 number – and most people have inclusive calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers.

Given that nowadays more than 58% of calls originate from mobiles, and less than 17% of calls originate from BT landlines, it was imperative for Ofcom to develop a charging system that did not revolve around what BT does, hence the transparent split-charge system introduced in July 2015.

The use of an 0845 number reduces the cost incurred by BT cusomers with an inclusive call plan to the same cost as calling an 01, 02 or 03 number (also inclusive). For all other callers on landlines (BT or otherwise) and for all callers on mobiles, the use of an 0845 number increases the call cost.

For those on a landline or mobile without inclusive calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers, the additional cost for calling 0845 numbers is the Service Charge. For those on a landline or mobile with inclusive calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers, the additional cost for calling 0845 numbers is both the Access Charge and the Service Charge.

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By what you say then the only conclusion I can reach is that business, as much as customers, have been mis-sold the service or, the charges have been buried so as that nobody really knows what’s going on, where the cost lie or even what the charges actually are.

I’d think that a failing of the telecoms industry.

K.

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If you want to blame anybody blame the government ,they wanted –DE-regulation of the telecoms industry and got it by introducing government Bills . BT is a private company it serves shareholders just like any other business . You all jumped up and down with joy when BT was privatised now it gets criticized why dont you read the new report of BT,s Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy assessed at £18 Billion who support 217000 jobs directly and indirectly and spent last year £6.5 Billion with UK suppliers .BT supports £1 in every £80 of GVA in the UK economy . For example BT are now a £1 Billion business in Scotland alone tell me how many UK based /UK owned companies are doing much more economically for this country ?

Member

“… the only conclusion I can reach is that business, as much as customers, have been mis-sold the service”

Yes, there is a lot of truth in your conclusion. Calls to 01 and 02 numbers have not been charged by distance for more than a decade. A distinct “local rate” ceased to exist in 2004. Indeed, most callers have inclusive calls to 01, 02 and (since 2007) 03 numbers. Calls to 084 and 087 numbers are generally non-inclusive and more expensive. Both Ofcom and ASA warned in 2005 that 0845 and 0870 numbers must not be described as “local” or “national” rate, and yet a simple Google search will find that most suppliers of these numbers are still describing them that way in 2015.

For a number of years, it was the case that someone with a BT landline and without an inclusive allowance did pay a lower per-minute rate to call 0845 and 0870 numbers than to call an 01 or 02 number. This was down to an obscure Ofcom regulation (“the NYS Retail Condition”) that capped the retail call price for 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers when called from a BT landline such that BT made no margin on call origination to these numbers. As BT is the largest provider of these numbers to businesses they make money from the payments from other networks (“termination fees”) for incoming calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers hosted by the business arm of BT. The regulation imposed solely on BT ensured that BT didn’t profit twice (profit from callers on origination and from other networks upon termination) from these calls. There was no such price cap for 01, 02 and 03 numbers and no cap on any numbers for all of the other landline and mobile providers. Customers of non-BT landline providers and of mobile networks therefore (and rightly) almost always paid more for calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers than to 01 and 02 numbers. Many non-geographic number providers used the non-typical case (BT landline without inclusive allowance) as their example of “typical” call pricing and sold these numbers to tens of thousands of unwitting businesses on that basis. Ofcom has had to untangle that mess, and the new split-charge system does achieve most of that aim.

When users of 084 and 087 numbers were challenged on their use, the response was that it was the mobile companies that were ripping people off because they charged more for these calls. However, even if the mobile companies reduced their share of the cost of a call to an 084 or 087 number, these calls would still be more expensive than calls to 01 and 02 numbers. This is because the caller’s provider has to pay an “Enhanced Termination Fee” (now known as the Service Charge) to the non-geographic number company. For 0845 and 0870 numbers in particular, the vast majority of the time that meant a payment to the business arm of BT as they are the largest provider of 0845 and 0870 numbers to businesses. This non-transparent charging has confused callers and businesses alike. Splitting the charge into Access and Service has revealed the truth.

BT has only a small share of the supply of other 084 and 087 numbers, but is by far the largest supplier of 0845 and 0870 numbers. Vodafone (through acquisition of Cable and Wireless) is the second largest supplier of 0845 and 0870 numbers to businesses. This explains why call prices for calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers from BT landlines and from Vodafone mobiles have always been cheaper than from other networks. No such discount was given for calls to other 084 and 087 numbers. Now that the pricing for 0845 and 0870 has been aligned to that for other 084 and 087 numbers, those discounts have mostly ended (except that BT still has these calls as inclusive in their call plans).

Before 1 July 2015, businesses that selected an 0845 number ensured that BT and Vodafone customers paid a low rate and all other callers paid a high rate as the call price included a termination payment to the business arm of BT or Vodafone. Those businesses who were on to this ruse, selected an 0345 number and ensured that all callers on all landline and mobile networks paid exactly the same as whatever they pay for calls to 01 and 02 numbers.

In requiring a declaration of the Service Charge, the new call charge system exposes the reality of this subsidy paid by callers and has led to the vast majority of former users of 084 and 087 numbers no longer using them. Most have swapped to the matching 034 or 037 number. A few have selected some other 01, 02, 03 or 080 number. This has been also helped by various other regulation (from DoH, BIS, FCA) and guidance (from Cabinet Office) that has effectively banned the use of 084, 087 and 09 numbers for very many purposes.

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Typo: ‘NYS’ should read ‘NTS’.

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Thanks Ian that is actually both useful and interesting.

So for most businesses, most of the time the best bet is simply to stick with the plain old geographic number is what I’d take away from that.

It is annoying (at best) though that, at least in my case and I expect many others, you think you’re doing your customers a favour and yet, turns out you’re really not.

K.

Member

Up until 2004, using an 0845 number was a good thing. It meant that you could call a customer service line, bank head office or central government department at the other end of the country for the price of a local call.

Usage of 0870 numbere was not an advantage to callers. These were charged at national rate. It did give organisations the opportunity to have a number which did not reveal a location and they could funnel calls to multiple call centres while advertising only a single number. When banks and travel agents started using 0870 numbers for all their local branches callers were heavily disadvantaged as they were paying national rates for a local call.

When landline providers introduced inclusive calls to 01 and 02 numbers in 2004, calling 0845 and 0870 numbers became a disadvantage.

Ofcom and ASA warned in 2005 that 0845 and 0870 numbers must not be described as local or national rate, but were ignored.

Ofcom made 03 numbers available in 2007, and introduced a rule that they must be charged the same as 01 and 02 numbers. Organisations liked the idea of revenue sharing on 0845 and 0870 numbers and were being told these were still local and national rate calls and so mostly ignored 03 numbers.

Revenue sharing was suspended on 0870 numbers on 1 August 2009. The price of calling 0870 from landlines fell, by becoming inclusive. The price from mobiles did not fall. Most organisations swapped to a new 0844 or 0871 number to continue receiving revenue share payments.

Ofcom had hinted they would look at removing revenue sharing from 0845 numbers. When they saw what happened after the 0870 changes this was never mentioned again.

Instead, a complete review of all 084, 087 and 09 numbers was undertaken, leading to the new call charge system that was recently introduced.

It is now clear that there are three types of non-geographic number.

03 – caller truly pays the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers, called party pays the call-forwarding company for their services.

080 – calls are free, called.party pays the call-forwarding company and the caller’s landline or mobile provider.

084, 087, 09 – caller pays an Access Charge to their landline or mobile provider and a Service Charge to the call-forwarding company. This revenue pays for their services and may also provide a revenue share payment to the called party.

A number of suppliers of non-geographic numbers are still not providing their customers with any such simple explanation of how it works.

Consumers have been helped by regulation that requires certain organisations to use 01, 02, 03 or 080 numbers and not use 084, 087 or 09 numbers.

Certain telecoms providers wanted 084 numbers classed as ‘basic rate’. Separation of the call cost into Access Charge and Service Charge showed that to be nonsense and the proposal was rightly rejected.

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I wasn’t really looking for a response from Ian at all, I was merely trying to make the point that, insofar as I am concerned, how the telecoms providers charge whatever service is irrelevant to me.

All I care about is two main points:

Customers can get through as best possible.

It doesn’t cost them any more than it absolutely must.

Beyond this, all else is wholly irrelevant. I do not care.

If the telecoms providers charge people more by whatever means, nefarious or otherwise, Im as much in the dark as anyone.

K.

Member

Calls to 0845 numbers ceased to be charged at “local rates” in 2004. This was when landline providers scrapped the price differential based on distance for calls to 01 and 02 numbers and moved subscribers on to inclusive call plans. Calls to 0845 (and 0870) numbers were non-inclusive and cost considerably more than calls to 01 and 02 numbers.

Both Ofcom and ASA issued a note about 0845 and 0870 call charges in 2005, warning that these must not be described as being ‘local’ or ‘national’ rate calls.

Discounted call prices offered by BT to these numbers, along with a denial that the undeclared 2p per minute Enhanced Termination Rate (now known as the Service Charge) for 0845 calls even existed, simply compounded the problem. It has taken until 2015 and the introduction of the new call charge system to reveal the truth.

All 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers are premium rate. The premium is the additional Service Charge paid to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider – which must now be declared everywhere the number is advertised or promoted.

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Well after reading all the posts it got me worried so I revisited -MY BT and although listed as a -“special number “– 0845****** there is ZERO charges on it.

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The main problem is calls from mobile phones, as Joe mentions in his introduction.

Calling 0845 from a landline is not necessarily free and will depend on the service provider, tariff and maybe who you are calling now that access and service charges are separate.

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Calls to numbers other than 0800 and 0808 (and 111, 112/999, 116, of course) may be ‘inclusive’ but they are never ‘free’.

Where calls to 084, 087 or 09 numbers are inclusive, other callers are subsidising the Service Charge that has to be paid to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider.

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Lets get this straight Ian are you saying BT is lying to me and if so where on my fixed price -unlimited calls contract does it say I am being charged but the charges wont appear on your bill. You do realise thats FRAUD dont you ??

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Duncan – The cost will be covered by your tariff, just like the cost of the unlimited calls you said you have.

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Thats what I said at the very beginning but some disagreed with that I was wanting then to prove it to me by facts that can be verified by me .I checked my contract there are no “hidden extras “

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If you make a thousand minutes of calls per month to an 084, 087 or 09 number with a 7p per minute Service Charge from your BT landline, BT will pay out £70 to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider.

If you make a thousand minutes of calls per month to an 087 or 09 number with a 13p per minute Service Charge from your BT landline, BT will pay out £130 to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider.

If the number you called started 0845 or 0870 AND you have an inclusive allowance of calls covering 0845 and 0870 numbers YOU will not pay the Service Charge.

Instead, BT will pay it and fund it from increased costs (price rises) for line rental, inclusive call plans and non-inclusive calls to landlines, mobiles, etc.

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Ian -the last two paragraphs THAT I can understand -thank you.

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I actually missed off a few words. I meant to say…

… YOU will not pay the Service Charge … for the calls that you made.

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In a sense, then, it’s no different to car insurance? The price of car insurance is set (or so we’re told) largely by the actions of other motorists (statistically) so the company makes a profit overall.

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Here’s a riddle: Given that cars depreciate in value, and like-for-like replacement cost is a factor in insurers’ calculations, why do the premiums only go up year on year?

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For a very long time, there has been a large amount of muddled thinking around this topic.

For years, there was a call for “cheaper calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers”. What was actually wanted was “cheaper calls to customer services, public services, banks, insurance companies, and essential health services”, the actual number range employed was largely irrelevant.

This latter goal has been achieved by introducing 03 numbers in 2007 followed by a number of regulations on the usage of various types of telephone numbers.

Since April 2010, DoH regulations require NHS health services to use 01, 02, 03 or 080 numbers.
Since December 2013, Cabinet Office guidance suggests that government departments and public services use 01, 02, 03 or 080 numbers.
Since June 2014, BIS regulations require post-sales helplines for retailers, traders and passenger transport companies to use 01, 02, 03 or 080 numbers.
Since October 2015, new FCA regulations extend this to cover financial services including banks and insurance companies.
This being the case, the cost of calling 084, 087 and 09 numbers is now largely irrelevant.

Ofcom’s changes effective 1 July 2015 confirm that all 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers are premium rate. The premium is the additional Service Charge paid to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider. As such, these numbers should be used only by those who are providing a genuine chargeable service paid for as the call is being made.

Those who use them for post-sales helplines are breaking the law. Those who use them for sales lines and for pre-sales enquiry lines seem to be engaging in a well-known ‘sales prevention technique’.

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Ian – I appreciate your efforts to introduce clarity. Can you give us a link to simple yet authoritative information that sets out the responsibilities of companies and other organisations regarding provision and advertising of phone numbers? Maybe this exists but I have always looked at the issue from the caller’s point of view.

When making phone calls I generally point out obvious problems such as use of 084 numbers for customer services and failure to display the service charge, reference to ‘local call rate’ and so on. Smaller companies often respond promptly and one even updated their website while I was on the phone.

Member

As part of the 1 July 2015 changes made by Ofcom, an additional requirement to declare the Service Charge for 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers was introduced.

The fine detail is contained Ofcom’s ‘General Conditions’.

Additional information is here http://ukcalling.info/industry

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Thanks Ian. I have bookmarked this.

In case you have any involvement with this document, there is word missing, presumably ‘July’ in the FAQs for Business, in the section headed ‘When do the changes come into effect?’

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The wording has been fixed.

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Thanks Ian.

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alarming ! I had a call from BT explaining that I owed £30 from a previous bill. Would I like to pay it now to avoid problems ? I asked where she was calling from, she said the BT office in the Philippines. I hung up and checked the No – it was a BT 0800 No: I called that BT No: it’s the same as is in the BT phone book. They assured me I owed nothing. How could I, I have not been with BT for about 10 years ! A very plausible scam using BT No:s

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But you see royskl1927 nothing is going to get done about it . They would use the Queens telephone number if they thought it helped get them what they want ,telephone numbers arent “precious ” any more on website after website the same cry goes up and goes into deaf ears . Election time –OH my ! we will stop this -after they have won -what calls we have higher priorities implementing political decisions the public didnt vote for. I have a long list of yes we will but after -no we wont. Until they start using the key word for them social “terrorists ” its a lost cause instead of looking for all those invisible “terrorists” (oh but we are so good you never see them ) why dont they attack some real terrorists that the British public en masse want arrested/jailed for causing untold misery to the general public . Dont say they cant do it I know different its down to government policy the government has the means and ability to attack and remove those people but they wont stop them.

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The muddled thinking around this topic has several facets. Another one is the claim that “the problem with 0845 and 0870 numbers is that they cost more to call from a mobile than from a landline”. While this simple comparison of call costs may be true, it deflects from the real issue.

Anyone who has spent even a short time looking at the price lists for landline and mobile providers should have noticed that ALL** calls made from mobiles cost more than a call to the same number from a landline. This is true whether you are calling a geographic number (01 or 02), a non-geographic 03 number, a mobile number (071-075, 077-079) or a premium number (084, 087, 09, 118).

The real “problem” with 084, 087 and 09 numbers is that they cost more to call then calling 01, 02 and 03 numbers and this is true whether you call from a landline or from a mobile and is independent of which provider you use.

Calling from a landline without inclusive calls (a minority of people are on this type of deal):
BT – 01, 02, 03: 10.24p per minute – 084, 087, 09: 10.24p per minute plus Service Charge
Sky – 01, 02, 03: 9.5p per minute – 084, 087, 09: 9.5p per minute plus Service Charge
Plusnet – 01, 02, 03: 9.58p per minute – 084, 087, 09: 9.58p per minute plus Service Charge
Virgin – 01, 02, 03: 11.35p per minute – 084, 087, 09: 10.25p per minute Plus Service Charge
and much the same pricing for all other landline providers.

Calling from a mobile without inclusive calls (a minority of people are on this type of deal):
O2 – 01, 02, 03: 30p per minute – 084, 087, 09: 45p per minute plus Service Charge
Vodafone – 01, 02, 03: 45p per minute – 084, 087, 09: 45p per minute plus Service Charge
EE – 01, 02, 03: 41p per minute – 084, 087, 09: 44p per minute plus Service Charge
Three – 01, 02, 03: 3p per minute – 084, 087, 09: 25p per minute plus Service Charge
and much the same pricing for all other mobile providers.

Calling from a landline with inclusive calls (most people are on this type of deal):
BT – 01, 02, 03: inclusive – 084, 087, 09: 10.24p per minute plus Service Charge
Sky – 01, 02, 03: inclusive – 084, 087, 09: 9.5p per minute plus Service Charge
Plusnet – 01, 02, 03: inclusive – 084, 087, 09: 9.58p per minute plus Service Charge
Virgin – 01, 02, 03: inclusive – 084, 087, 09: 10.25p per minute Plus Service Charge
Some landline providers apply a discount to 0845 and/or 0870 numbers such that they are also inclusive. The caller does not pay the Service Charge for the premium calls they have made, instead this is collectively funded by all customers of that landline provider.

Calling from a mobile with inclusive calls (most people are on this type of deal):
O2 – 01, 02, 03: inclusive – 084, 087, 09: 45p per minute plus Service Charge
Vodafone – 01, 02, 03: inclusive – 084, 087, 09: 45p per minute plus Service Charge
EE – 01, 02, 03: inclusive – 084, 087, 09: 44p per minute plus Service Charge
Three – 01, 02, 03: inclusive – 084, 087, 09: 25p per minute plus Service Charge
and much the same pricing for all other mobile providers. Some mobile providers offer an inclusive add-on for calls to 084 and 087 numbers for a few pounds per month. Where this is the case, the caller does not pay the Service Charge for the premium calls they have made, instead this is collectively funded by all customers of that mobile provider.

As you can see, calling an 084, 087 or 09 number is always more expensive than calling an 01, 02 or 03 number (or if you take into account the small number of deals with inclusive calls to 084(5) and/or 087(0) numbers “calling an 084, 087 or 09 number is never cheaper than calling an 01, 02 or 03 number”), irrespective of which landline or mobile provider you use.

When you call an 01, 02 or 03 number you are paying only your landline or mobile provider for connecting and conveying the call. Revenue sharing is not permitted and there is no payment to the person or organisation that you are calling (the same is also true when you call a mobile number). When you call an 084, 087 or 09 number, you are paying your landline or mobile provider to connect and convey the call (the Access Charge) and you are also paying an additional fee that is passed on and paid to the joint benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider (the Service Charge). This is why calls to 084, 087 and 09 numbers cost more than calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers.

The Service Charge is paid by callers on calls to 084, 087 and 09 numbers. This revenue is passed on and paid to the benefit of the called party and their non-geographic number provider. This subsidy reduces (usually to zero) the amount the business has to pay to run their non-geographic number and in many cases allows the called party to benefit from revenue share payments. It is this payment that funds the provision of premium services such as voting on a TV show, calling a chatline, listening to recorded information such as sports results or horoscopes. It is improper for a payment such as this to be levied to fund a customer service line or public service (where the service is already funded by taxation) and this usage has been effectively banned by various regulation (from DoH, BIS and FCA) and guidance (from Cabinet Office).

While it is true that calls from mobiles (to all numbers) cost more than calling the same number from a landline, declaration of the Access Charge makes it easy to compare the cost of calling 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers from each provider. Callers should choose the provider with the lowest rate. Additionally, most people choose to not pay a per-minute rate for their calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers from their landline or from their mobile. Instead they purchase a monthly allowance of calls for a fixed price each month. Even where only a small portion of the allowance is used, this usually works out cheaper than paying a high per-minute rate for these calls.

There should be very little need to call 084, 087 or 09 numbers these days. The vast majority of former users have now swapped to the matching 034 or 037 number or to a new 01, 02, 03 or 080 number.

** I used the word “ALL” but this obviously doesn’t include freephone 080 numbers, or calls to fixed price numbers such as 101, the police non-emergency number.

Member
Chris says:
12 November 2015

Actually, my Sainsbury’s mobile service (soon to be discontinued, unhappily) is way cheaper than my Sky landline, so I use Sky only for freephone numbers.

Member

It is the case that if you compare the prices for various calls charged by the most expensive landline providers with the prices charged by the cheapest mobile providers then some calls may be cheaper from a mobile phone. This is not the general trend.

Sky offers unlimited Anytime calls to geographic numbers starting 01 and 02, non-geographic numbers starting 03 and mobile numbers starting 071-075 and 077-079 for £8 per month.

If you’re spending more than £8 per month on your mobile for calls made while you are at home, or could be made while you are at home, then you could save money by reducing your mobile spend and using the landline for these calls.

Those mobile providers offering very cheap rates don’t tend to stay in business very long. There has been a steady rate of such providers ending their service, or otherwise going out of business, over the years.

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I understand that the Consumer Contracts Regulations state that all customer service lines must use basic rate phone numbers like 01,02 & 03 but this seems to be mostly ignored.

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Assuming that insurance claims count as customer service calls, Santander needs to update this information:

“Call charges when you claim on your insurance
0845 and 0870 numbers
Calls from some fixed networks cost no more than a national rate call. Mobile and other providers’ charges may vary.

0800 and 0808 numbers
Calls from UK landlines are free. Mobile charges may vary.

0844 numbers (except the extensions listed below)
Calls have a set up charge of up to 13p and then cost up to 4p per minute depending on your BT call plan. Calls from mobile and other providers’ charges may vary.

0844 561 / 0844 800 / 0844 879 / 0844 900 / 0844 999 numbers
Calls have a set up charge of up to 15p and then cost up to 5.2p per minute (including VAT) depending on your BT call plan. Calls from mobile and other providers’ charges may vary.

*Please check with your service provider for exact costs. Calls from abroad may cost significantly more. Details correct as of 01 March 2013”

Member

Financial services including banks and insurance companies are covered by FCA regulation that came into force on 26 October 2015, more than 16 months after the Consumer Contracts Regulations came into force.

Numbers starting 01, 02, 03 or 080 are acceptable. Those starting 084, 087 or 09 are not.

It will take a while for websites to be updated, far longer for paperwork to follow, especially for things that may be reprinted seasonally, or for annual renewals.

The important thing that needs to be rapidly in place is an announcement on the old number informing callers to hang up and redial the new number.

Member

There seems to be a high level of compliance with Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, but some notable examples of non-compliance.

Numbers starting 01, 02, 03 or 080 are acceptable. Numbers starting 084, 087 or 09 are not. The regulations apply to post sales helplines used by retailers, traders and passenger transport companies.

Non-compliance can be reported to Trading Standards via the Citizen’s Advice national Consumer Helpline on 0345 404 0506.

Other regulations cover the financial sector and health service contractors and various guidance covers government departments and public services.

Profile photo of RosemaryJ
Member

I am into my second week without myTalk Talk landline. Day 1: was told 48 hrs.
We do not have mobile coverage here – yet they will only send texts – and won’t use email. I can only pick up texts by driving to a local car park. BUT these texts say? Call an 0870 number – really?
I’ve used a friends phone – but get messages repeatedly said ‘experiencing delays’ so your call should be answered in 20 -25 minutes. Brilliant.
Day 9: I’m told to (yes) text/call a different : 0870 number to arrange an engineer’s appt. WHY – can’t they
sort a fairly common problem – quickly? easily?

Member

Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts Regulations requires an 01, 02, 03 or 080 number for post-sales helplines.

The regulations came into force on 13 June 2014. Regulation 41(2) gives callers the right to a refund of their call costs.

Breaches of the regulations can be reported to Trading Standards via the Citizen’s Advice national Consumer Helpline on 0345 404 0506.

Profile photo of KenB
Member

The thing that winds me up is companies that have long delays both on initial pick up and passing calls on. I ended up with a very large mobile bill when Virgin crossed 2 wires in the roadside box and took a month to fix it.
Almost all of this was “dead” time.

Charging should start from connection to the actual transaction.
We do not pay to wait in line for a supermarket checkout!

Member

Nowadays, most people select an inclusive call plan where they do not pay for individual calls (to 01, 02, 03 numbers).

If you are paying a ‘per-minute’ rate for these calls, you are most likely on the wrong tariff or with the wrong provider.

If you are calling 084 or 087 numbers for customer services, the problem is that these companies are not complying with the Consumer Contracts Regulations and you therefore have the right to a refund of those call costs.

Member

From 1997 onwards, 0845 numbers were ‘local rate’ and 0870 numbers were ‘national rate’. These replaced the earlier 0645, 0990 and other such prefixes previously in use, with the final switch off of the old numbers happening in 2001.

In 2004, landline providers scrapped the difference in price based on distance for calls to 01 and 02 numbers and moved callers on to inclusive call plans for calling these numbers. At that moment, a distinct ‘local rate’ cease to exist. Additionally, the cost of calling 0845 and 0870 numbers now differed from the cost of calling 01 and 02 numbers. It took Ofcom and ASA until 2005 to issue a note explaining that 0845 and 0870 numbers must not be described as