According to research by moneysupermarket.com, British people spent £88million calling 0800 (freephone) numbers from their mobile phones in the past 12 months.
Considering we did enjoy a spell when calls were free, it seems crazy that we ended up with all of the networks (including the virtual ones) seeing 0800 numbers as a way of making extra money. It’s particularly crazy because each operator gets paid by the owner of the number to handle the call.
moneysupermarket.com is now urging Ofcom to look into the regulation of call charges from mobiles to freephone numbers. They regard it as especially important following a 57% increase the number of households that only use a mobile phone – having ditched their landline completely (and, What Mobile believes this will grow even further now that the need to have a landline for broadband is reducing thanks to mobile broadband solutions).
Recent research shows that, on average in the last year, just under half of the population (41%) has called an 0800 number. 69% of them have no idea how much they are actually charged for making the calls. Generally, operators charge a unique rate for calling freephone numbers, meaning you can’t even use any call allowance you might be given.
moneysupermarket.com commercial manager of mobiles and broadband James Parker said: “It’s clear from the research that a huge amount of people feel they aren’t getting a fair deal when calling 0800 numbers from their mobiles. Whether you call from a landline, mobile or phonebox you should not have to pay for these calls. What’s worse is people are mostly calling customer service numbers looking for help from their providers – the last thing they need is to be charged for it.
“Free should mean free and its apparent the facility to make free 0800 calls from mobiles exists, all the major operators allow free calls to 08 numbers for certain charities and I see no reason why this can’t be extended to other essential services such as banks and utilities.”
Freephone 0800 numbers are only regulated for BT customers and although guidelines are imposed on other providers, such as mobile networks, mobile customers do not get the benefit of calling a Freephone number.