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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?


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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’.


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.


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.


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. 🙁


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.


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.


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.

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


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.


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 .


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 .


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


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.



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.


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.



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.


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 .