Saturday 2 February 2013

Saturday, February 02, 2013 Posted by Hari 19 comments Labels: , ,
Posted by Hari on Saturday, February 02, 2013 with 19 comments | Labels: , ,

 Confused by phone charges or don’t know how much a phone call really costs? Perhaps that's their intention...

By Tony Monk. The information is based on research Tony did as a volunteer for KentLINk after it was discovered that several local GP practices were found to be using 0844 numbers, possibly on a revenue sharing basis.  Tony was also particularly incensed when he noticed that the expensive 0870 series number was rather cynically used by the Government as an emergency number for the public to ask for names of victims of the 7 July 2005 London bombings. 

Many callers think that that 0843/4/5 calls are charged at a local rate or similarly cheaper cost.

0845 and 0870 numbers typically cost between 1p and 10.5p/min with or without set up fees and again are normally far more expensive from a mobile phone, typically 12 to 41p per min.

0871/2/3 numbers typically cost more than 0845 and 0870 numbers.

Charges for 0843/4 numbers from a landline vary greatly, typically between 1p and 13p/min plus a call set up fee. For example, Talktalk charge a set up fee of 13.87p per call and then 5p/min. One company was unable to quote a charge as it depends on the recipient’s telephone service provider.  Charges to these numbers will normally be far higher from a mobile phone.

118 numbers can be a very expensive and can cost up to £2.50 for a search plus up to £3.00 per min.

07 numbers are for mobile phones and will vary greatly between providers and depend on whether they are made from another mobile or a landline phone.

DO NOT phone 09 numbers unless you are very rich or a financial masochist as they can cost up to £2.60/min from a landline or mobile!

0500 numbers are free from a landline but are charged for from a mobile phone.  056 numbers are used for VOIP calls via the internet.

0800 and 0808 calls are normally free from a landline but typically cost 21p from a mobile phone.

116 is a range of easy-to-remember phone numbers for use throughout Europe to assist children and adults in need.

01, 02 and 03 numbers are normally charged at standard geographical number rates dependent on your provider, typically between 2p and 10p per minute and will normally be more expensive from a mobile typically 10p to 40p/min.

On the plus side many companies include all 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870 numbers in their inclusive bundles BUT NOT the other 08 series numbers.

There is an increasing use of higher rate charge 084 and 087 series numbers by commercial organisations.  Some corporate and government help lines have started using 03 numbers but many are still using the 084 and 087 series of numbers.  Examples include:-

An example of this is
revenue sharing.  In other words the money paid for some 08 series calls is split between the service provider and the recipient and could lead to deliberate delays while the caller pays to listen to music.  Start worrying when you hear “In order to improve our service…….” which is then followed by music!

While most mobile users are aware of the costs of their phone and calls, many mobile and landline users are not aware of just how expensive 084 and 087 series numbers can be.  Many companies help to spread the myth that these calls cost no more than a local call – a fraudulent lie!

Rather than reducing costs, competition has led to total confusion and some very high prices.  In future let’s greatly simplify these numbers with standard maximum charges. Callers should be clearly advised of the cost per minute before the call charges start, and the time taken for the advice to be heard should be free.  No more set up fees or other sneaky charges and no more revenue sharing schemes.  

OFCOM has some proposals for changes, published in December 2010 – see  OFCOM seems, however, to have been dragging its feet for a long time while the public remains unprotected from these rip-offs  

The cost of calling these numbers is generally significantly more from mobiles. The impact of the higher cost on mobiles is particularly pronounced for people on lower incomes who are more likely to live in mobile-only households, and use their mobile or call box to call essential services on these numbers such as some benefit offices, councils, utility services and doctor surgeries, etc.

Make sure you complain to Ofcom if you have a problem with charging and also chase them on what they are doing about urgently needed reforms.  Contact them on
0300 123 3000 or 020 7981 3000 or at http//

If your complaint concerns premium (09) numbers contact 0800 500212 or

Also have a look at Ofcoms very helpful Number Crunching website on

If you can afford to, consider buying a package from your phone company and check they include 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870 numbers, but calls outside these numbers can be eye-wateringly expensive especially if made from a mobile.  Try to find a cheaper alternative number first.

Use the SAY NO TO 0870 website for alternative numbers for many business and government lines. This site lists alternative geographic numbers that are much cheaper. The information is crowdsourced, so if you know of any that are not on the site please add them to it.

If you want to find a number from a landline phone try 0800 118 3733 – it is directory enquiries for free!!

Confusing isn’t it.  Take care or you could be making someone very rich at your own expense! Who said privatisation and consequent competition would lead to cheaper calls?


  1. Deregulation of the comms industry has brought about lowering of charges, Calls to Europe used to be an eye-watering £1/minute when BT had the monopoly it can as low as 2p/minute using 18866 with a 5p set up charge. If you use skype (you have to have a computer and the internet available it is free computer - computer or is a local call to any landline in the world) Deregulation of many services has brought benefits even to the much-maligned energy sector. You can't have failed to notice that the UK is no longer the only industrialised country on the planet. We have been joined by China, India to name a few who are also very hungry for energy resources hence why our energy prices have risen so sharplyand ....they work jolly hard for much lower wages than those of in the UK. If we want manufacturing jobs then we have to be innovative and produce something the others aren't doing.....yet. We have to keep inventing and keep on doing so as our ideas will soon be copied by others. We have to keep evolving and stay ahead of the game.

  2. (part 1)

    Calls to 084, 087 and 09 numbers incur a Service Charge to the benefit of the called party and their phone supplier.

    The level of this Service Charge depends on the number called:
    - 0843/0844 - 1p/min to 5p/min depending on the first six digits.
    - 0845 - approx. 2p/min.
    - 0870 - zero since 2009 (but not for much longer).
    - 0871/0872/0873 - 1p/min to 10p/min depending on the first six digits.
    - 090/091/098 - 5p/min to £1.50/min depending on the first six digits.

    Calls to non-geographic numbers may also incur an Access Charge to the benefit of the callers phone network.
    - Calls from non-BT landlines incur an Access Charge of zero to 7p/min (for 084 numbers) depending on which network is used to place the call. The AC is higher still for 087 and 09 numbers. (The Access Charge on Sky Talk is generally zero for 084 and 087 numbers and higher for 09 numbers. The AC on Virgin Media varies from 3p/min to 7p/min depending on the 084 number called, and is higher still for 087 and 09 numbers.)
    - The "NTS Condition" currently restricts BT from adding an Access Charge. This condition will be lifted in 2014.
    - Calls from mobiles incur an excessive Access Charge of 20p/min to 40p/min depending on which network is used to place the call and the actual 084 or 087 number called (the AC is higher still on calls from mobiles to 09 numbers).

    Calls from landlines also incur a Connection Fee of around 14p per call. This Fee will be discontinued in 2014, replaced instead by a minimum call fee where callers will be charged for a full minute on calls of 60 seconds or less.

    Currently all of these charges are hidden within the "bundled" call price that each phone network advertises. Landline networks issue a price list running to several hundred pages for non-geographic numbers because the call price varies from number to number. It's difficult and time consuming to look up the call price. Mobile networks advertise a single highly inflated call price for each prefix, 0843, 0844, 0845, etc.

    Although these are revenue share numbers, the current arrangement is not at all clear as to where the money goes when you pay for a call.

    The caller pays the full amount to their phone network. That phone network keeps the Access Charge (if there was one) and a small part of the Connection Fee (if the call came from a landline).

    The Service Charge and much of the Connection Fee (if there was one) is passed on to the phone company that owns the 08 or 09 number. They, in turn, may pass some of this money on to the called party in a "revenue share" arrangement or give them a discount on their bill for telephone service. This latter arrangement leads many organisations that use revenue share numbers to flat out deny they "make a profit" from these calls.

    Advertisers currently tell you that "Calls on BT Weekend Plan cost X p/min, other networks may charge more". This is completely useless information for 99% of callers because most people have an "Anytime" inclusive call plan either with BT or with some other landline network or are using a mobile phone.

  3. (part 2)

    Ofcom will shortly publish their detailed timetable for the adoption of "unbundled tariffs" for non-geographic numbers. Under this system, users of 084, 087 and 09 numbers will have to declare the Service Charge that applies wherever their phone number is advertised.

    Many other changes will happen at the same time. Phone networks will each have to set a single Access Charge per tariff, one that covers all 084, 087 and 09 numbers. BT will be allowed to add an Access Charge for the first time. Connection Fees will be scrapped and replaced by a minimum call charge. Revenue Sharing will return to 0870 numbers with a Service Charge somewhere around 7p/min to 10p/min. The Service Charge for 084 numbers will be set at up to 7p/min. For 087 numbers it will be set at up to 13p/min. In both cases it will continue to vary according to the number called. Freefone 0800 and 0808 numbers will finally become free calls from mobiles.

    The provisions of the Consumer Rights Directive also pass into law before the end of 2013. This requires that customer service lines use 01, 02, 03 or 080 numbers. Users of 084 and 087 numbers can migrate to the matching 034 or 037 number or take a completely new 01, 02, 030 or 033 number.

    These are the biggest set of changes to non-geographic numbers for a very long time. The changes are complex and will take more than a year to be implemented once the final details are announced later in the summer.

    The end result will bring a new level of simplicity to non-geographic numbers. Users of 084, 087 and 09 numbers declare their Service Charge. Phone networks declare their single Access Charge per tariff for all 084, 087 and 09 numbers. Add the two numbers together to see the call price.

  4. NAO are producing a report "within weeks" detailing the problem of revenue-sharing numbers used by government departments.

    HMRC are moving all 0845 and 0870 numbers over to 0300 and 0345 numbers by the end of Summer 2013.

    BIS will publish details of legislation implementing the provisions of the Consumer Rights Directive in the Autumn.

    Ofcom will produce the final implementation details for the "unbundled tariff" in the Autumn.

    DWP will have to declare a 2p/min Service Charge if they continue using 0845 numbers.

  5. If you see a company advertising their 084 or 087 telephone number as "lo-call", "local rate" or "national rate" they are in breach of advertising regulations. The ASA can take action on that false claim if it is reported.

    Revenue sharing is here to stay. There are several types of service where it is appropriate for the caller to pay a small fee to whoever they are calling for the provision of that service. This includes multi-way conference-call services, dial-a-weather-forecast and other such recorded information lines, as well as old-style dial-up internet access. All of these services will shortly have to declare their Service Charge wherever their phone number is advertised. Ofcom will publish the detailed regulations in Autumn 2013.

    It is NOT acceptable for healthcare phone lines to impose a Service Charge on callers and this was effectively banned for NHS bodies in December 2009 and for GPs in April 2010 (although a large number continue to defy that ban).

    It is NOT appropriate for bookings, renewals, faults, complaints, refunds and other such customer service phone lines to impose a Service Charge on callers. Service Charges will be banned for customer service and other such phone lines when the provisions of the Consumer Rights Directive are enacted. These provisions must become law by December 2013 and will apply from June 2014. Companies will be forced to move from 084 and 087 numbers to either the matching 034 or 037 number, or to a new 01, 02, 030, 033 or 080 number. Several business sectors (e.g. finance) are not covered and separate legislation will be required for those.

  6. The NAO report was published yesterday.

    1. Thanks, we are on it already! Please keep the tips coming though :)

    2. In the Public Accounts Committee enquiry on September 2nd, DWP rolled over and have agreed to swap from 0845 to 03 numbers.

      In the same meeting, the Cabinet Office committed to formulating policy for government and public services "within 6 to 8 weeks".

    3. The Cabinet Office policy was published on 26 December 2013. It covered all central government departments and their agencies and declared that it 'may be useful to other organisations across the wider public sector landscape' (e.g. local authorities).

      The document recommended that all 084 and 087 lines be replaced by either geographic 01 or 02 numbers, or non-geographic 03 numbers. It also recognised that in some limited circumstances a freephone 080 number may be appropriate.

  7. so why dwp STILL using 0845 then if the switch was months ago

    1. DWP swapped most of their 0845 lines over to new 0345 numbers on 17 March 2014.

      This followed their verbal commitment to make the move made at the Public Accounts Committee enquiry in September 2013 and their press release issued at the end of January 2014 confirming the move would take place in March 2014.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 were published by BIS on 13 December 2013 and came into force on 13 June 2014.

      Regulation 41 requires retailers, traders and passenger transport companies to use numbers starting 01, 02, 03 or 080 for post-sales enquiries.

      In the event of non-compliance, Regulation 41(2) gives callers the right to a refund to any excess costs incurred above whatever an equivalent call to an 01, 02 or 03 number would have cost.

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

  9. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY??????

  10. The changes to call charges for 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers will finally come into effect on 1 July 2015.

    On the same date, calls to 080 numbers will become free from all mobile phones.

    Ofcom's "UK Calling" website has the details of "Clear Call Rates for Everyone".

    1. The changes made by Ofcom on 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.

      The Service Charge is up to 7p per minute for 084 numbers or up to 13p per minute for 087 numbers and must be declared in close proximity to the number wherever it is
      advertised or promoted.

      The Access Charge is set by the caller's phone provider and is up to 12p per minute from landlines or up to 45p per minute from mobile phones.

  11. The Key is to use an 0345 Number where possible as these will be treated in the same way as a number ending 01 or 02 and will not attract an additional charge from mobile with bundled minutes.

    This is more about ensuring that callers are aware that they may have to pay a service charge and that this service charge is clearly stated when calling an 08 number.

    It is the 03 number set that is to be used when you have inclusive minutes and don't want to incur additional charges

    1. Calls to 03 numbers are inclusive from landlines and from mobiles. If you have an allowance of calls to 01 and 02 numbers, it will always include calls to 03 numbers.

      Where there is no inclusive allowance, calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers are charged at your provider's 'geographic rate'. This applies on all landline and mobile networks.

  12. Since 26 October 2015, new FCA regulations require financial services, including banks and insurance companies, to use 01, 02, 03 or 080 numbers for contact by existing customers.

    This mirrors the existing BIS regulations covering retailers, traders and passenger transport companies that came into force on 13 June 2014.

    Usage of 084 and 087 numbers for inappropriate purposes is now in rapid decline.


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