From 1st July, 0800 numbers will finally be free from mobiles but uSwitch warns new ‘access’ charge could leave some people out of pocket
From 1st July 2015, Ofcom is changing the way people are charged for calling non-geographic service and premium rate numbers. However, price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com says the new costs vary dramatically across different providers, so people will need to keep a close eye on what they will be charged to avoid getting caught out.
The changes mean 0800 and 0808 numbers will finally be free from mobiles, while the cost of calling other expensive numbers, such as 084, 087, 118 or 09 numbers will be different. Over 13 million Brits currently spend an average of £132 a year each calling these numbers, which include travel companies, delivery firms and voting on TV talent shows.
The new charges are designed to make it simpler by paying the network provider an ‘access charge’ and the company they’re calling a ‘service charge’. But costs will vary dramatically, with some network providers charging up to three times as much as other networks.
Richard Neudegg, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, says: “These reforms offer long overdue changes to so-called freephone numbers. Numbers starting with 080 have long been free to call from landlines – and this has finally been extended to mobiles, too. But the big worry is the new access charges, as these vary dramatically across the networks.
“Phone companies can set whatever access charge they like, so now we’ve ended up with a system where EE charges 44p and giffgaff 15p. That’s before you add on a service charge for the number you want to call, which can be anything up to 13p per minute for numbers starting with 087.
“It’s not so much the mental arithmetic required to work out the new call rates that’s the problem – but people could easily be caught out if they aren’t clued up about their provider’s new charges.
“Ofcom’s new system relies on people keeping an eagle eye on what they will be charged before they pick up the phone. The theory is the charges will be more transparent than before, but it doesn’t mean they will be cheaper.”
The table below shows the networks’ new access charges for mobile and home phone from 1st July:
|Network||Mobile access charge||Home phone access charge|
|Vodafone||23p, then 45p from 10th August||N/A|
|EE (incl. Orange & T-Mobile)||44p||11p|
Source: uSwitch.com, 22nd June 2015
* All costs in the table above are out of bundle, however some providers offer calls to these numbers within select mobile and home phone tariffs.
For more information visit www.uswitch.com or call 0800 093 0607