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Calls to Freephone 0800 Numbers To Be Made Free
Mobile phone users claim they are ripped off by mobile phone providers because they pay through the nose to call an 0800 number whereas the same call made from a landline is free. Ofcom is set to change things soon.
By: David Clarke of DBS Telecoms
As it stands, calls that are made to an 0800 freephone number from a BT standard landline are free. However, a call to an 0800 number from a mobile phone attracts a relatively high call charge.
Ofcom’s researchers have released alarming statistics regarding the calls costs from mobile phones to an 0800 number. In 2009 people in the UK paid a staggering £1.9 billion calling 0800 numbers from mobile phones . The average cost to call an 0800 number from a mobile phone was a cool 40 pence per minute.
There is also a social slant to these high costs as Ofcom feels that low-income families are harder hit by mobile phone costs than higher income families. This is because low income families have been found less likely to have a landline which means that all their phone calls have to be made using a mobile phone.
Ofcom has recently published proposals whereby all calls to 0800 numbers will be free whether they are made from a landline or a mobile phone. This will be music to the ears of all mobile phone owners. There are several websites that exist purely to make public the “real phone number” behind 08 prefix numbers which are also referred to as non-geographic so this is clearly an issue which needs to be addressed. Examples of such websites include 0800Buster and SayNoTo0870.
The UK’s telecoms watchdog has stated that it wants to simplify non-geographic number pricing as it feels that there is a huge amount of confusion surrounding phone numbers that start with these prefixes starting with 03, 08, and 09 . Non-geographic numbers have a tarnished reputation since the “Ant and Dec” scandal and Ofcom seems to be keen to clean up the mess. Anyone who watches TV shows where the public has a phone vote (X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing) will be aware that an effort has been made to make clear to the public what the costs will be.
Under the Ofcom proposals that are under consideration calls to Freephone 0800 numbers would be free from both landlines and mobile phones.
Ofcom’s chief executive, Ed Richards, stated: "There is clear evidence of widespread uncertainty and confusion about the cost of calling these numbers. Consumers need to have far more transparency about the price they are going to pay for calls so that they can make more informed choices and so competition can work more effectively.
"Making 0800 free from a mobile and giving people clarity about what they are paying for will improve transparency, improve competition and enhance trust in these important services."
David Clarke, a director of DBS Telecoms welcomes Ofcom’s proposals - “ I am pleased to see that Ofcom proposes to simplify the 0800 number pricing structure – it can only be good for our industry” he commented. DBS markets 08 numbers through its website at http://www.dbs-
The Helplines Association also commented on the new proposals: "We welcome Ofcom's plans to tackle these issues and agree there is significant confusion around call costs. Our association has been campaigning on the cost of calling freephone numbers, especially charity helplines, from mobile phones since 1999" said chief executive, Rekha Wadhwani, of The Helplines Association.
If, after a consultation period, the proposals are accepted then new 0800 number rates would be introduced over the coming 24 months.
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