It’s nearly 12 months on since Ofcom announced that calls to 0800 numbers from mobile phones are free, thus bringing them into line with the cost of 0800 calls from landline phones.

The new call charges, which came into force on 1st July 2015, were promoted through an extensive campaign and received wide media coverage on the BBC website and national newspapers such as The Telegraph.

So, you would have thought this amount of media attention would have brought to an end the confusion which has surrounded this topic for years.

But, if you don’t know what your operator charges for calling an 0800 number from your mobile phone, it seems you’re not alone.

Google Search Trends data over the last 3 years, shows that far from clarifying the position on costs of calling 0800 numbers from mobiles, consumers are just as confused as ever:

google_trends_mobiles_767

The trend line in the graphic above shows that the number of Google searches for the query “are 0800 numbers free from mobiles” have actually increased since July 2015. This suggests the Ofcom campaign was nowhere near as effective as it should have been.

We’ve found further evidence of the ongoing confusion about 0800 number mobile call costs by analysing a variety of associated Google searches over the past 12 months.

The table below shows the number of times people have searched Google looking for an answer to their question about 0800 number call costs:

Exact Search TermSearches (12 month Average)Searches (May 2015)Searches (Jun 2015)Searches (Jul 2015)Searches (Aug 2015)Searches (Sep 2015)Searches (Oct 2015)Searches (Nov 2015)Searches (Dec 2015)Searches (Jan 2016)Searches (Feb 2016)Searches (Mar 2016)Searches (Apr 2016)
are 0800 numbers free99008100810099009900121009900990081009900990099009900
are 0800 numbers free on ee2900130019003600360029002900290029003600290029002900
are 0800 numbers free on o2160072072088024002900240072010002400240024001000
are 0800 numbers free on vodafone100026059016001000880100013001300130088010001300
are 0800 numbers free from mobiles880390390100088088010001000720880880880880
are 0800 numbers free on 372026059010008805904801000880880320390880
are 0800 numbers free on mobiles480260210590720390590480390590480480480
are 0800 numbers free from landlines32059026021039059059017090140210210210
are 0800 numbers free from a mobile2601101402602101300140170140170210210170
are 0800 numbers free on virgin mobile21090170320260170170140170260390210170
are 0800 numbers free on tesco mobile21070110320320210260210210260260210210
are 0800 numbers free on bt17090110140170110170170140210210210210
are 0800 numbers free on sky14090170260140140170170110170170140140
are 0800 numbers free on giffgaff1409014014014014011011090170110140140
are 0800 numbers free from a landline1407070260210110709070140210170110
are 0800 numbers free on talktalk909070110110901109070110909070
are 0800 numbers free to call9050509090909070709011014090
are 0800 numbers free from vodafone704040909011090504070707050
are 0800 numbers free on vodafone contract70901401101409040504040707070
are 0800 numbers free from ee703050110909070704050705050
are 0800 numbers free on landlines707070140905070907090305070
are 0800 numbers free from talktalk landlines50705070504050704050304020
are 0800 numbers free on ee mobile50207050705050504070507030
are 0800 numbers free on 3 network5030403050507030305017011040
are 0800 numbers free on orange40204050704070504040202030
are 0800 numbers free on virgin media40303070403020302040304040
are 0800 numbers free ee40202050707020302030404030
are 0800 numbers free on ee landline400070305050404070507040
are 0800 numbers free from tesco mobile40103070404040403030304040
are 0800 numbers free from virgin mobile40405070503040203040404040
are 0800 numbers free on talk mobile40303040505040305040304050
are 0800 numbers free with ee4003070504040702050304050
are 0800 numbers free on plusnet30203020202020203040303030
are 0800 numbers free from bt landlines30302030203020201020307040
are 0800 numbers free on o2 pay as you go3001050403030705050302020
are 0800 numbers free on vodafone mobiles30404010501020201030904020
are 0800 numbers free on virgin media landline30304030405030303030102040
are 0800 numbers free from vodafone mobiles30205040303030301020302010
are 0800 numbers free with sky30304040502020302040303020
are 0800 numbers free with bt30203030403020303090302020
are 0800 numbers free for mobiles30101040402030402030203030
are 0800 numbers free on bt mobile2000002020102040304050
are 0800 numbers free from a mobile phone20101020202030202030202030
are 0800 numbers free on skype20404020202020102010101010
are 0800 numbers free from a bt landline20202030203020201010101010
are 0800 numbers free on talk talk20103020402020301020302010
are 0800 numbers free to call on vodafone2000007030202020204010
are 0800 numbers free from sky landline20203030302030101010202010
are 0800 numbers free on pay as you go20000303030303020102020
are 0800 numbers free on vodafone pay as you go20202010301010101020201010
are 0800 numbers free landline20101020202020201010201020
are 0800 numbers free from plusnet landlines20102020102010101010201020
are 0800 numbers free from mobiles o220203040201020202020202020
are 0800 numbers free from mobiles vodafone20101030202020101020302030
are 0800 numbers free on 02 network2001050202020302030103010
r 0800 numbers free20201020104030303050102010
are 0800 numbers free with vodafone2000004040202050405030
are 0800 numbers free with talktalk20203030302030303030202010
are 0800 numbers free on 3 contract20101030402010101020201010
are 0800 numbers free from vodafone mobile1000000000002020
are 0800 numbers free on life mobile1000000000002010
are 0800 numbers always free10101010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free from a sky landline10101010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free from a phone box1010101010101010101010100
are 0800 numbers free from sky landlines10402010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free bt10101020201010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free to call from a landline10202010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free to call from a bt landline10101010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free of charge10101010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free on ee pay as you go1000001010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free on talktalk essentials10201010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free from bt mobile1000000000002010
are 0800 numbers free from sky10202010102010101010201010
are 0800 numbers free on 3 pay as you go10101020201020101010101010
are 0800 numbers free on orange pay as you go10101010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free from house phones1001010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free in the uk10101020101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free in south africa10000100010010000
are 0800 numbers free in nz1000101000000000
are 0800 numbers free in new zealand10000010000001010
are 0800 numbers included in free minutes10101010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free from landlines in uk101010100100100010010
are 0800 numbers free from landlines on bt10101010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free from talktalk landline10101010102010101010201010
are 0800 numbers free from orange landline100001010000100010
are 0800 numbers free from mobiles nz100010001010101001010
are 0800 numbers free tesco mobile1001030201020101010102010
are 0800 numbers free virgin mobile10101020101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free 3 mobile10101010201010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free phone10101010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free from phone boxes1010101010101010101010100
are 0800 numbers free on 02 pay monthly1001010101010101010101040
are 0800 numbers free to ring10101010101010101010102010
are 0800 numbers still free1000001010101010101020
are 0800 numbers free from sky landlines in uk10102010202010201010101010
are 0800 numbers free to mobiles100020101010101010101010
t mobile are 0800 numbers free101010101010101010010010
are 0800 numbers free uk10101010101010101010101010
are all 0800 numbers free uk101001010010010100010
are 0800 numbers free from uk landlines101010100101001010101010
are 0800 numbers free with plusnet10101010101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free with bt landline10201010201010101010101020
are 0800 numbers free with tesco mobile10000000101010101010
are 0800 numbers free with virgin mobile1000001010101010101010
are 0800 and 0845 numbers free10101030101010101010101010
are 0800 numbers free for landlines10101010010100101010010

So what could be behind the continued uncertainty about call costs to 0800 numbers from mobiles?

  • Not enough publicity surrounding the original Ofcom “UK Calling” campaign.
  • Lack of ongoing publicity about the cost of 0800 calls (this forum post about the ending of the information campaign shows how some people are surprised the campaign has ended already).
  • Not enough being done by mobile operators to publicize their call rates to 0800 numbers.
  • Confusion from mobile customers about whether the free 0800 number call rates applies to their specific package.

What more could be done to inform consumers about mobile operator charges for calling 0800 numbers?

One idea would be to reactivate the original UKCalling.info website and conduct a fresh campaign, one year on from the original announcement on 1st July 2015. Only, this time around, mobile operators should play a greater role in promoting information about freephone call costs. They could do this through a dedicated text and/or email marketing campaign, backed up by a clear, unequivocal pricing page on their website. This should be made clear for new customers in particular and a quarterly campaign sent to refresh people’s memories so people don’t have to search on Google to find answers to their questions.

Whatever is done, it’s clear that confusion still surrounds the whole area of 0800 number call costs from mobile phones. Studies have shown that businesses, charities and other organisations that use Freephone 0800 numbers, get significantly more calls than they would using traditional landline numbers. If Ofcom and mobile operators ran a joint campaign promoting the fact that mobile phone calls to 0800 numbers are free, there would be even more incentive for businesses to get an 0800 number for inbound calls.