As of July 1, 2015, the freephone numbers starting with the 0800 or 0808 prefix will now be truly free, for both mobile and fixed lines. This change has been highly anticipated by users who have incurred high fees of up to 40p per minute by calling numbers that were already free on their home phone. Ofcom, the independent telecom regulation authority, has praised this change in mobile charges, which will positively affect millions of mobile phone users.
However, the changes are coupled with new fee regulations for other phone prefixes. Callers to 084, 087, 09, and 118 phone numbers will see a different method of calculating fees, which could add up to considerable expense. Learn about the new fee regulations so you will know when you should pick up your mobile or dial out with your fixed line.
Access and Service Charges
If you intend to call a 084, 087, 09, or 118 phone number, learn about the new fee system that has been put in place. There are two separate charges that will determine the total per minute rate, the access charge and service charge. The access charge is the fee that phone companies can charge per minute, for dialling one of these numbers. The mobile phone company will make that charge clearly available on your monthly bill.
The second charge is the service charge. This fee is sent on to the company you are calling. When you call the organization, they must tell you upfront what the per minute rate will be, eliminating any possible confusion. The rate must also be printed alongside the phone number on any form of advertising.
Preparing for the Change
In anticipation of the change to free 0800 and 0808 numbers, some companies have switched to 03 phone numbers. Since they will not be earning any money off of the old numbers, the switch will let them earn, albeit at a much lower price point. 03 numbers typically cost as much as 01 and 02 numbers, which is certainly better than nothing. On the other hand, some businesses are considering switching to the other 08 numbers which allow a fee, to continue to make money on incoming calls.
About 28 per cent of UK callers have called a 08, 09, or 118, racking up an estimated £900 million in related fees each year. With the impending change, callers will be able to make educated decisions about their calling options, and manage their mobile phone charges more effectively. While the rates will be clear, there will be no cap on the access charge that mobile providers can assess. Currently, EE charges the most, at 44p per minute, but Vodaphone will increase their access charge from 23p to 45p as of August 10, 2015. However, service charges are capped at 13p per minute for 087 numbers, and at 7p per minute for 084 numbers.
Make Better Mobile Calling Decisions
Mobile customers are now empowered to make better decisions about their phoning habits, potentially leading to savings on their phone bills. If you want to avoid the numbers entirely, look for a geographic number with the prefix 01, 02, or 03. You can usually make calls to these numbers with your mobile phone minutes, and not incur extra fees. Also check to see if the company you are phoning has a freephone number with the prefix 0800 or 0808.
Even though the rates are clearer now, it will still be expensive to call 084, 087, 09, or 118 numbers on your mobile phone. Pick up your fixed line to dial these numbers whenever possible for additional savings. If your calling habits require you to frequently phone these numbers, you may want to shop around for a new mobile provider with a cheaper access rate or who bundles non-geographic number minutes into existing tariff options.
Mobile users have a lot to celebrate with the 0800 and 0808 numbers becoming completely free. However, the mobile landscape still has a lot of fees to be wary of. Research your options before dialling a non-geographic number from your mobile, to save on access and service fees.