It’s nearly 12 months 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 surrounding 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:
The trend line in the graphic above shows that the number of Google searches for the query “are 0800 numbers free from mobiles” have 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.
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 is 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 apply 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 after 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 should be 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 use 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.