/ Money, Technology

Banks call charges: customers still face costly bills

Phone cartoon

We’ve found that current account and credit card providers are still using high-cost telephone numbers, despite a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) proposal to ban banks call charges.

Thankfully, the most pricey 087 numbers appear to have fallen out of use since we first investigated costly financial calls in December 2013. However, 32% of the current account providers and 36% of the credit card providers that we re-examined in December 2014 were still using high-cost 084 numbers for customer service.

These can cost up to 41p a minute, whereas 03 numbers never cost more to call than a landline number and are often included in call packages.

Switching to basic rate numbers

TSB outlined for us last year why it switched to basic rate 0345 numbers to ensure fairness and transparency with their customers. And the FCA took your feedback on board by consulting on the need to cut the cost of calls to financial firms. As Alfa said previously:

‘Let’s face it, most of the time we contact customer services is because of a problem caused by the company …..and they expect us to pay for the privilege?’

Banks call charges for dedicated complaint lines

Current account providers have cleaned up their act on dedicated complaint lines – none of the 19 we looked at offered an 084 number for this purpose. But six providers – Clydesdale, Lloyds, the Post Office, Santander, Smile and Yorkshire Bank – use them for customer service (although Lloyds do have a landline alternative).

We found 8 out of 22 credit card providers using 084 numbers for customer service, including two – American Express and Tesco – using them for complaints.

Do you feel your bank is doing enough to communicate their cost saving numbers? Are there current account or credit card providers you feel are still charging more than they should?


The ban on surcharged phone numbers originates from Article 21 of Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Rights, which contains exemptions for a number of industry sectors such as passenger transport services and financial services. When the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills enacted the article in the UK under Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013, it chose to remove the unreasonable exemption for passenger transport services, but it stupidly chose to preserve the unreasonable exemption for financial services. No industry sector should enjoy an exclusion. The practice of using surcharged telephone numbers for customers to complain should have been outlawed across all industry sectors with no exemptions. BIS failed, leaving the FCA to belatedly pick up the issue. A total shambles and mismanagement by both BIS and the European Commission.


The EU Directive had financial services and passenger transport among a lengthy list of exemptions. For the UK to have overridden the exemption for financial services would likely have been seen to be ‘gold plating’. In the UK this always needed a separate stream of regulation.

Work began on the EU Directive in 2008 and it was published in 2011 with a target date of 13 June 2014 for implementation. The UK adopted the directive, holding a consultation in 2012, publishing draft legislation in August 2013 and the final version in December 2013.

The FCA had long been aware of that implementation timetable but failed to adopt parallel regulation for the financial sector. The FCA is now running a consultation but it’s too little, too late. Whatever the FCA has up their sleeve will be rendered obsolete by the forthcoming requirement, from 1 July 2015, to declare the Service Charge wherever an 084, 087 or 09 number is advertised.

Joan Kingstonm-Lynch says:
31 January 2015

Halifax still charge premium rate on08457 number.


If they continue using 0845 numbers after 1 July 2015 they will have to change all of their marketing materials to declare their Service Charge next to their number.

The replacement matching 0345 numbers should be brought into use at the earliest possible opportunity. Ofcom made these available in 2007.


I complained to Santander, which is still using 0844 numbers for customer service. I don’t like web forms because it is more difficult to keep a track of correspondence The only email address I could find was the CEO one.

I received a prompt reply: “To enable me to register and investigate your concerns, please can you provide me with your full address, including postcode, your date of birth and daytime telephone number?”

My complaint is not over a personal issue. They have my name and email address and unless they want to send my a birthday card, why do they want my dob.

Duncan says:
1 February 2015

Hi Joan for the Halifax use the apps say no to 08 (or Google) and see if there is an alternative offered that is a landline or 03 number
when I dial 0800 numbers using 0800 wizard it will change a number in front of you should a CHEAPER alternative be available
Try this with a few different APPS or websites as it may not be altered on the first that you try to use as NOT in THEIR database but may be included in a Competitor’s alternative database


There are various methods for looking for alternative numbers in order to avoid calling expensive 084 and 087 numbers. Thankfully they are becoming more and more redundant.

The focus has moved on to educating users of 084 and 087 numbers about the forthcoming changes to call pricing with the suggestion they change their number to one in the 03 range.

This immediately benefits all callers rather than the select few who happen to stumble upon some website or app.


Ian – I appreciate what is being done, but the expensive numbers are still with us. I met at least four while switching my home insurance recently.

Until the last costly number has gone, I support anyone trying to inform others of cheaper alternative numbers. You and I know about alternative numbers but many still do not. It seems likely that costly numbers are still being advertised because they are a worthwhile source of revenue.


A distinct “local rate” hasn’t existed since 2004. Even then, it only ever applied to calls made from some landlines, not those made from mobiles.

Calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers are “inclusive”, else charged at “geographic rate”. Given all that has been said, these should now be in widespread use.


Hi Ian, quite right, I’ve tweaked to use a more generic ‘basic rate’. Thanks for the spot.


Maybe Which could get someone senior from the FCA to write a guest post explaining why they haven’t already made financial institutions stop using these rip off numbers.


I very rarely use a landline phone to contact any firm or organization unless it is a 0800 number . There are other ways if you have a mobile or a computer and internet which you have already paid for in the package you have already..

Chris says:
31 January 2015

What are the ‘other ways’ – surely they are not secret?


We also need action on 03 numbers. The retail cost of calling an 03 number is supposed to be the same as calling an 01 or 02 number, but because wholesale cost of calling 03 numbers is higher than 01 and 02 numbers, this doesn’t always happen. In particular, some VOIP operators and non-UK-based operators, which are not subject to Ofcom regulation, surcharge for 03 numbers above their price for calling 01 and 02 numbers. Ofcom needs to regulate to bring the wholesale cost of 03 numbers down to the same level as 01 and 02 numbers, particularly as many financial institutions are switching to 03 numbers rather than 01 and 02 numbers.


Calls to 01 and 02 numbers have far-end handover. The transit costs are higher for the call originator.

Calls to 03 numbers have near-end handover. The transit costs are higher for the call terminator.

I think this is one of the reasons for the difference in termination fees between calls to landline 01 and 02 numbers and calls to non-geographic 03 numbers.


Working together in September 2013, the fair telecoms campaign and Which? hoped to achieve our shared objectives of extending the principles of what became the Consumer Contract Regulations to cover government (through the Cabinet Office), passenger transport (by removal of the exemption that stood at that time in the draft CCR) and financial services (by the introduction of parallel regulations by the FCA to apply from the CCR implementation date of 13 June 2014).

We focussed on the former two targets and achieved success – the passenger transport exemption was removed from the final version of the CCR, and the Cabinet Office published strong Guidance on 26 December 2013. The greater resources of the Which? team were focussed on the FCA. This led to what was proclaimed by Mr Lloyd as a “big win” when the FCA declared on 14 April 2014 that it was “time to end costly calls for customers” by consulting on the question by the end of 2014.

We continue to disagree, believing that the proper time was 13 June 2014. Is Which? perhaps starting to think that it has not yet won, despite having declared victory?

We have now moved our focus onto the impact of the forthcoming “Clear Call Rates for Everyone”, which will now almost certainly have a much greater effect on all use of 084/087 numbers than a bit of belated catching up by the FCA. It would be interesting to know why Which? has not yet started to join us in pressing for this to be as effective as it could be.


In the past week I have reprimanded several large companies for still advertising 084 numbers for customer service, both on paper and on websites. This should have stopped by last June. A few people are still complaining about costly numbers to phone their GP’s surgery.

The only measure I can see working is to instruct BT or other service provider to suspend calls to these numbers.


To clarify, the complaints I made about costly phone numbers were not in relation to financial services.


The focus now has to be on the forthcoming requirement shortly to be imposed on ALL users of 084, 087 and 09 numbers to either justify their Service Charge and amend all of their marketing materials to declare it, else change their number to stop imposing it. Unlike previous regulation, this also covers sales and enquiry lines.


Yes, the forthcoming obligation to notify callers of the “access charge” will embarrass organisations away from using these surcharged numbers. If it is obvious to the caller that they are paying a per-minute fee to the called party in circumstances where such a fee is inappropriate, then it will create poor customer relations.

What are the new regulations called and where are they published? All I can find is Ofcom documents about the changes, but no wording of the new regulations.


It is telephone companies that must declare their Access Charge.

Service Providers must declare their Service Charge wherever their number is advertised.

These are the two essential components for delivering “Clear Call Rates for Everyone”.


Ian was right to correct the terminology. The portion of the charge to the benefit of the provider of the Service being called is called the “Service Charge”. Each phone company will have to set, and declare a single (pence per minute) rate of “Access Charge” which applies to all calls to 084/087/09 and 118 numbers. (Where the call is at a fixed rate per call, regardless of duration, the Access Charge will be also.)

The Ofcom website describing the changes is ukcalling.info. The amendments to the “Standard Conditions”, which apply to the telephone companies, have been published. The requirement to declare the Service Charge will be imposed by Phonepay Plus for 087/09/118 numbers, in conjunction with the CAP (ASA), which will cover 084 numbers.

We are delighted to see that very many users of 084 numbers are now moving away to 03 or geographic numbers and we hope that this trend will continue and accelerate once the impact of the new regime is recognised. We think it unlikely that many 084 users will be content to declare the Service Charge. There will undoubtedly be some who fail to recognise the change, due to incompetence; they will have to be firmly chased up – and we will play our part in that.

We will look to the ASA (and Phonepay Plus) to take swift and effective action against any who deliberately seek to mislead their callers.

We hope that the growing amount of publicity about the change (which will be deliberately focussed much nearer to the 1 July) will render attempts to mislead ineffective.


Sorry, I meant the “service charge”. I know the difference; I just used the wrong one of the two phrases.

So if an 084 number is not in an advertisement, it won’t be covered by the new rules? As I understand it, the ASA only regulates advertisements.


No, the ASA brief is much wider, for example it includes all information provided on web pages.

If there is seen to be a major gap in the application of the “unbundled tariff”, we will return Ofcom to the points we have made in consultation responses about the need to ensure that Service Charges are invariably declared wherever there may be a need for them to be known.

There may be some cases where, for example, a directory will indicate that all listed 084 numbers have a Service Charge of up to 7 ppm. It is our sincere hope that there will really be very few 084 numbers left, by 1 July, apart from those which are mistakes that will be corrected over the following few months.

Be assured that, although we are taking a positive view at this stage, we will be watching very closely and be ready to act swiftly.


I don’t pretend to understand the technicalities or legal aspects of costly calls. They have been a problem for years. Companies outside the banking sector are still using 0844 numbers, long after they should have stopped. Some are still having to call an 0844 number if they need to make an appointment with their GP. How long will it be before all numbers are compliant?

The process is being dragged out and I have not seen much evidence of action taken against companies and other organisations that have ignored deadlines.

What will the next game be? It was widely reported that EE would be introducing a charge of 50p to jump the queue when calling customer services. Fortunately this appears to relate only to calls from landlines made out of normal working hours, something that an existing customer might do if they have a problem with their mobile.

I am not impressed by the performance of Ofcom.


There should be no surprise that Ofcom have had no involvement in those issues. None of those issues come within a mile of Ofcom’s remit.

Ofcom’s actions have been to make 03 numbers available, enforce the rules surrounding 03 numbers and change the way 084, 087 and 09 call costs are declared.

The forthcoming transparency of non-geographic call costs will ultimately have a far greater effect than all of the other recent regulation and guidance.


Thanks Ian. It looks as if I may have to carry on looking up alternative numbers for some time to come. 🙁


Who are you calling?

Most retailers, traders and passenger transport companies have changed to 033, 034 or 037 numbers.

Most government departments and public services have changed to 0300 or 0345 numbers.

Most banks have changed to 0345 numbers.

Most of the NHS uses 01, 02, 0300, 0344 or 0345 numbers.

Usage of 084 and 087 numbers has massively declined over the last 18 months.

Ofcom’s forthcoming changes will mainly affect sales and enquiry lines and insurance companies as well as mopping up any remaining lines that have failed to heed previous regulation and guidance specific to their sector.

Molly Romanov says:
31 January 2015

When organisations only offer expensive numbers, check on http://www.saynoto0870.com for alternative numbers – freephone, geographical etc. I’ve been doing this for years and must have saved a considerable amount of money.

Duncan says:
31 January 2015

Hello everyone
Try this to save a fortune ALSO
is included in your MOBILE CONTRACT MINUTES allowance ( if applicable)
ANYTIME that you are going to contact a company that DOES NOT SUPPLY an alternative standard rate number (PHONES UTILITIES BANKS and many others)
LOOK AT website under CONTACT US and see if under the selection FROM ABROAD
SWAP the +44(UK international dialling code from overseas) for a 01 and
CHECK IF THIS NOW looks like a standard LANDLINE NUMBER 01……..
for example +44844……. changes to 01844…………
so you would pay the same EXPENSIVE PRICE for the call
also you may get a head office switchboard
SIMPLY REQUEST your desired department and the operator will transfer your call
I used to do this for SANTANDER (alliance & Leicester) INSTEAD
I called 0116 …,…….. THEIR LEICESTER HEAD OFFICE – cost me nothing as used mobile


Place calls from mobiles to 0845, 0870, 0800 etc numbers via the FREE app WeQ4U. Calls are routed through an 0300 number to the destination’s landline number, so they appear on your free plan minutes – calls are FREE! I tell everyone about this – spread the news!

Andrew Heathcote says:
31 January 2015

When I phone Natwest I am informed that there is an 03 number which might be a cheaper option than 0845 numbers.


NatWest offers
0345 7888 444 (England and Wales)
0345 9000 200 (Scotland)

Never call the 0845 numbers again.


Nat west can cost a fortune- when I complained about ringing an 0845 number they came up with a 03 number- which to my mind proves they are trying to make money while they can get away with it- I ran them on an 08 number once and iot was because they had made an error- but all in call cost me £8 to tell them to sort it out


My answer to the problem is to embarrass the company by writing to them and demanding that they ring me to discuss the problem. I tell them that I cannot ring an 084 numbers from the house phone, as they are barred. The cost of them writing a letter is something like £3, so I have won. If they want my business, they have to talk to me, or I tell them, in writing, that I will go elsewhere with my money.
If you say that postage stamps cost too much, think again. Join the Kantar Postal Survey Team and get free stamps – simples!

Robert C says:
1 February 2015

I have checked my current statements and Lloyds bank and Lloyds mastercard both show an 0845 number. At least it is the cheaper one and not a higher 084… (to be fair to BT 0845 only is included in call packages). The bank promotes this as the only number to call. They try to route everything through their call centre and do their best to stop you talking to the branch.

Meanwhile Nationwide offer mainly free 0800 numbers and the same web page provides the geographical numbers as well. For me the main advantage of a free number is not the pence, but the fact that they have an incentive to keep queue times down.


If you’re calling from a mobile phone there’s usually no price difference between calling an 0844 or an 0845 number. From 1 July 2015 the way these call costs are declared is changing.

If they continue using 0845 numbers after 1 July 2015 they will have to change all of their marketing materials to declare their Service Charge next to their number.

The replacement matching 0345 numbers should be brought into use at the earliest possible opportunity. Ofcom made these available in 2007.

Duncan says:
1 February 2015

Robert C
if you have a FLEX PLUS account CALL 01793 541200 (from a say no to 08 APP on mobile ) and you will get that as one off the options in the menu —
May also work with different accounts as on entering the details this could transfer me automatically to a particular card or account number department for me

Duncan says:
1 February 2015

Robert for Lloyds Bank Look at the company website UNDER CONTACT US
the number from overseas is +44 1733 462 255
(for telephone banking) SWAP the +44 for a ‘0’ to make 01733 462 255 It is a PETERBOROUGH area standard landline number
I assume other departments will have a similar number for yourself.
I called this when trying to get a problem sorted for MRS xx – UNKNOWN TO ME as they used a different name on a money site forum ( just like now – I do not know you mate)
BUT were getting nowhere when BY MISTAKE they RECEIVED over £3000- PAID INTO their account. Told the bank but the bank did not want to sort this problem FAST so the person was panicking about this Told to send a CHEQUE but never had a cheque book – Company would supply a cheque but wanted £25,00 for this ??? to fix their mistake
On calling ABOVE NUMBER to find procedure to fix a mistake like this got straight through
at NO COST TO ME as I used a mobile AND I do not bank with them
Eventually it took a MONTH to fix and the woman received over £100.00 compensation to cover their time and expense due to the companies failure to act sooner

John L says:
1 February 2015

First Direct still have 08456 10010 as my current account contact number


Their new number is 0345 6100 100.

Wherever you see an 084 or 087 number advertised, try calling the matching 034 or 037 number.

Duncan says:
1 February 2015

In the article at the top Tesco CREDIT CARD are quoted as using 084 number to contact the company AS AN ALTERNATIVE try 01268 508027 you will still be transferred to the
SCOTTISH CALL CENTRE – for Tesco BUT the dialling code 01268 is for BASILDON Essex
Also try this when calling, PRESS ‘ 0’ on ANSWER and you should be the NEXT call answered by an operator

I.Coltello says:
2 February 2015

If you use the landline number attached to AMEX international contact number you will pay the normal national rate.


I pay BT a set price for long distance calls(UK) so look out for a direct number as dialing =0841 etc can cost a fortune if you are made to wait for ages on hold. The answer to many complaints above is -www.saynoto0870.com it takes in all the costly numbers . Put in a company name in the box like -ie PC World and a list appears with the 0871 etc numbers but it also gives the direct number -01xxx alongside of all UK branches . I tried it it works . You can also put in the 0841 number in the box below to get the direct number.


PC World now uses 03 numbers. As these are charged at the same rate as calling an 01 or 02 number and count towards inclusive minutes on landlines and on mobiles, there’s no longer a need to go looking for alternative numbers.


Thats good news about PC World -and what about all the other telephone numbers that say no to 0870 say on their website are they all wrong too? .If not its still a good service

Niel says:
4 February 2015

My banks (Barclays and NatWest) now have 03457 numbers replacing 08457 which they are withdrawing

Interesting effect

If I ring on Vodafone “Simply Price Plan” it costs me 14p per min for the old 08457 and 30p per min on the new 03457.
So the cost of my calls has doubled.


BT and Vodafone are two major providers of 0845 numbers to businesses and the only two networks to charge calls to these numbers at a discounted rate compared to their inflated per-minute rated charges for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers. BT’s discount is imposed by the NTS Retail Condition which ends on 1 July 2015. These is no such regulation imposed on Vodafone.

The new system of call charging for 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers that comes into effect on 1 July 2015 for all landline and mobile providers will give further clarity to these call prices. Any funny business will be obvious for all to see simply by comparing the cost of calling 01, 02 and 03 numbers with the Access Charge for calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers.

When you call an 084, 087, 09 or 118 number, part of the call cost is set by the caller’s provider and part is set by the organisation being called. The cost of calling 01, 02 and 03 numbers is set entirely by the caller’s provider. If you are paying an extortionate rate for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers, you are on the wrong price plan or with the wrong provider.

Most people no longer pay a per-minute rate for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers and instead have an inclusive allowance as part of a call plan. On those landlines where no such call plan is in place, these calls can cost 10p per minute or more. An inclusive deal with AnyTime calls usually offers better value for money for any caller making more than about 10 minutes per week of daytime, weekday calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers. For example, BT offers Home Phone Saver for £19.99 per month including Line Rental, AnyTime inclusive calls and Caller ID. This is only about £3 more than Line Rental on its own.

On pay as you go mobile phones, calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers vary from 3p per minute to 45p per minute. Callers have complete control over how much they pay for these calls. If you are paying a high rate it is time to change to a different deal or to a different provider. Contract deals (with or without a phone) offer another way to make these calls and should also be investigated. The effective per-minute rate on a contract, even if, for example, only half of the allowance is used, can still be less than the pay as you go rate.

The Termination Rate for calls to geographic 01 and 02 numbers is just over 0.2p per minute. For calls to non-geographic 03 numbers it is about 0.5p per minute. For calls to mobile phones it is a little over 0.8p per minute. All of these calls should be cheap from landlines and from mobiles. If they are not, it’s time to change to a better deal.


I had reason to look up http://www.saynoto0870.com today as my wife wanted some things from a catalogue company . The =01 number was nu (out of service ) but it also displays=0800 numbers which did work this saved me 40P. I will not quote the company which was a company within another company within another company as I visited a website that said that some businesses are aware of say no and have blocked or taken out of service their direct numbers. I pay a set price for long distance calls (UK) on my rental.

Gerry says:
6 February 2015

I’d like to believe that everything will be rosy on 1st July 2015, but I very much doubt it.

Many big names still wave two fingers at last June’s ‘Basic Rate’ law about Customer Service numbers, including Lidl (all their W5 cleaning products still show 0870 numbers), British Airways (Flight Departures and Arrivals), Train Tracker and Traveline (both 0871 premium rate). BA also scores a hat trick, simultaneously breaking both the Equality Act and the Basic Rate law by quoting only an 0845 number for their Minicom service for the Hearing Impaired !

Each Train Operating Company claims there’s a loophole in the law because Train Tracker is operated by the Association of Train Operating Companies (aka National Rail). TOCs such as Southeastern also break the rules by providing no 0871 or 25p reverse charge text pricing information for Train Tracker; look up South Eastern Railway (sic) in the BT online directory and only their 0845 number is listed.

Presumably the bus companies are exploiting a similar loophole with Traveline, and Arriva still blatantly displays only 0844 numbers on buses and at bus stops.

These rogue organisations are all flouting the law (or getting very close to doing so) at the moment, so why does anyone think the banks and other financial institutions will suddenly change their spots on 1 July 2015, or when the Basic Rate rules apply to them? They have no shame whatsover, they know that they’ll continue get away with it, so the banks will still be laughing all the way… to the bank.


As with every regulation there has ever been, there will always be a few who ignore it and carry on regardless. The success story, here, is the huge number of organisations that have already complied with the new rules that were introduced in June 2014. Millions of calls per week that this time last year would have been to 084 and 087 numbers are now instead being made to 03 and 080 numbers.

Doubtless there will be a number of organisations that fail to comply with what they are required to do by 1 July 2015. The media can tear them to pieces once their position is known.

They will, however, be in the minority. Most banks have already adopted new 0345 numbers. On the other hand, the insurance industry has shown little movement away from expensive numbers.

Ofcom are already running adverts about the forthcoming changes both in trade magazines and in the national press. There can be no excuse for not knowing about what is coming.

Organisations using 084, 087 and 09 numbers now have only a few short months left to justify their Service Charge and amend all of their marketing materials to declare it, else change their number to stop imposing it.


The following is from Santander’s website. At the time of writing three 0844 number and three 0845 number are listed. (The remaining three are 0800 numbers.)

The costly numbers appear to be the companies that underwrite Santander’s policies. I complained to Aviva about the 0844 number but they showed no more interest than Santander about my concern. As I see it, Santander should be responsible for providing getting the number changed, because my contract was with them, but I don’t know the legal position.

Home insurance:
For the right number to call to speak to customer services, check what your policy number starts with. You’ll find your policy number on your policy schedule.

If you have a Santander Options Home Insurance policy (starts 11 or 12):
You can find all of your documents, make changes and more in the Options Home Insurance self service centre.

Alternatively you can call BISL on 0800 048 1853.
Lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday and public holidays, and 10am to 4pm Sunday.

If you have a Santander Home Insurance policy which is underwritten by Aviva (your policy number will start with either AN or MH)
Call Aviva on 0844 891 5060.
Lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm Saturday.

If you have a Santander Home Insurance policy which was originally taken out through the National & Provincial Building Society
Call 0845 741 3324.
Lines are open 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 2pm Saturday.

Car insurance:
Call iGO4 on 0800 917 5090.
Lines are open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday and 10am to 3pm Sunday.

Travel insurance:
Call ACE on 0800 519 9925 or from abroad +44 (0) 1293 726329.
Lines open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Life insurance and life and critical illness insurance:

If your policy provider is Aviva:
Call Aviva on 0845 301 6383.
Lines are open 8.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday and 8.30am to 4pm Saturday.

If your policy provider is Royal London:
Call Royal London on 0845 741 3002.
Lines are open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm Saturday.


They have until 1 July 2015 to amend their marketing materials.

They have these two main choices:

“Call us on 084X XXX XXXX
“Calls incur a Xp per minute Service Charge on top of your phone provider’s Access Charge.”

The Service Charge can be up to 7p per minute on calls to 084 numbers, and varies depending on the number called, not by which provider is used to make the call.

“Call us on 034X XXX XXXX
“Calls to 03 numbers cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers and count towards inclusive allowances on landlines and on mobiles.”

The latter is a much more attractive proposition for most callers.

The other choice is:

“Call us on 080X XXX XXXX
“Calls are free from landlines and from mobiles.”

Free calls to 080 numbers from mobile phones takes effect on 1 July 2015.

Organisations will pay higher fees for incoming calls to 080 numbers than for incoming calls to 03 numbers.


Thanks Ian. Can you tell me what enforcement is likely to take place if organisations fail to meet the deadline? We have had years of nuisance calls and the fines are few and paltry.

I have noticed that it is becoming harder to find phone numbers on companies’ websites. At one time, income from costly calls was a means of deferring costs, but that is nearly history.

I have some sympathy with companies and other organisations having to provide information that many of us could find on their websites.


Numbers starting 084 and numbers starting 087 with a Service Charge of up to 7p per minute will be dealt with by Advertising Standards.

Numbers starting 087 with a Service Charge of more than 7p per minute and numbers starting 090, 091, 098 and 118 will be dealt with by PhonepayPlus.

Ofcom is also monitoring compliance and says it is ready to take action where needed.


Perhaps we should nominate you to appear on Mastermind, Ian. I have an idea of your chosen specialised subject.

Gerry says:
8 February 2015

Unfortunately, the Basic Rate legislation banning 084/087 customer service numbers doesn’t apply to financial services, so Santander / Aviva can still legally rip you off to their heart’s content.

Santander is one of the worst banks for making misleading and illegal claims about the cost of 084/087 calls. Their website claims that for 0845/0870 “Calls from some fixed networks cost no more than a national rate call.” That may be true for BT, but who are the others? And they’re still falsely claiming that the call set-up fee for 0844 numbers is 13p or 15p when it’s actually 15.97p.

The dozy FCA is still plodding along with its consultation about banning phone charges above basic rate, but it doesn’t close until 15 March so don’t expect any action any time soon !


There’s no question that the FCA has been entirely ineffective. Whatever the FCA eventually comes up with, will be too little, too late. It will be trumped by Ofcom’s new transparency measures and it is this forthcoming change that is mostly responsible for banks moving from 0845 to 0345 numbers.

The new call charge system coming into effect on 1 July 2015 eliminates connection fees on calls to 08, 09 and 118 numbers. The requirement to declare the Service Charge and mention that the caller’s phone provider will add their Access Charge will make it abundantly clear that terms such as ‘local rate’ and ‘national rate’ no longer apply.


First Direct have discreetly changed over to an 0345 number. I only found out after they wrote to me stating their and all of HSBC’s savings accounts will be losing the use of cash cards from 13th April, and I wanted to complain – the 0345 number was in small print at the bottom of their letter.


The new number for First Direct is 0345 6100 100.

Wherever you see an 084 or 087 number advertised, try calling the matching 034 or 037 number

Ian says:
19 April 2015

Halifax is the latest to swap their 0845 lines over to replacement 0345 numbers.


The FCA have actually mandated the change to 0345 Numbers from 26/10/2015.
October 2015 banks and insurance companies must provide numbers starting 01, 02, 03 or 080 for customer.contact. This spells the end of usage of expensive 084, 087 and 09 numbers.

Many Banks have already started the move to ‘free’ Customer Service numbers already and the growing list can be found at


Additionally it is worth noting that Ofcom have given companies first dibs on their corrisponding 0345 numbers, so for example DWP already opperate 0845 608 8545 and have recently changed to 0345 608 8545 and as such it is always worth trying the 03 version before resorting to the expensive 08 number on letterheads


Calls to 03 numbers cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers and count towards inclusive allowances on landlines and on mobile phones. While most people will call these numbers as part of an inclusive allowance, those without such an allowance will be paying up to 12p per minute from a landline or up to 45p per minute from a mobile. Calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers may be ‘inclusive’ but they are never ‘free’. Those who are paying a per-minute rate for these calls are very likely on the wrong call plan for their needs.

Users of 084 and 087 numbers do not get ‘first dibs’ on the matching 034 or 037 number. Ofcom regulations ensure that 034 and 037 numbers can be used only where an organisation already uses the matching 084 or 087 number. The number migration can be done at any time. There is no time limit.


Calls to 03 numbers cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers and count towards inclusive allowances on landlines and on mobile phones. While most people will call these numbers as part of an inclusive allowance, those without such an allowance will be paying up to 12p per minute from a landline or up to 45p per minute from a mobile. Calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers may be ‘inclusive’ but they are never ‘free’. Those who are paying a per-minute rate for these calls are very likely on the wrong call plan for their needs.

Users of 084 and 087 numbers do not get ‘first dibs’ on the matching 034 or 037 number. Ofcom regulations ensure that 034 and 037 numbers can be used only where an organisation already uses the matching 084 or 087 number. The number migration can be done at any time. There is no time limit.