Choice is good. Mostly.
But there are situations where choice can be good for one side, while being a negative for others. Take telecommunications for example, and the UK phone numbering market in particular.
Main Points Covered:
Proliferation of UK non-geographic numbers
Aside from the geographic numbering system, where area codes are allocated to a particular town or city, the UK has a wide choice of non-geographic number prefixes.
Over the years, these non-geographic numbers have offered businesses and organisations (charities, schools, emergency services etc.) the option to provide bespoke call services and charging rates to their users.
However, some of the non-geographic prefixes have been the subject of arguments and contention. Take premium-rate numbers for example:
In many European countries, for example France, Germany and the United Kingdom, it was common for organisations to operate customer service lines on premium-rate numbers using prefixes that fall outside the scope of the country’s premium-rate number regulations. Therefore, in contrast to North America where customer service numbers are typically free of charge to the caller, consumers in Europe often used to pay a premium above the cost of a normal telephone call. (source: Wikipedia (premium-rate telephone number)
Confusion about call charges
The main cause of complaints about non-geographic numbers is confusion and lack of clear information about pricing.
A clear example of this confusion was apparent in the case of 0800 Freephone numbers. Before July 2015, calls from landlines to 0800 numbers were free. However, calls to 0800 numbers from mobile numbers carried a charge. This charge varied depending on the mobile network operator.
Finally, Ofcom clears up confusion about Freephone call charges
It wasn’t until Ofcom’s “UK Calling” regulation change introduced on 1st July 2015 that the cost of calls to Freephone numbers were standardised, making it free to call an 0800 number from a mobile phone, as well as a landline.
Important Note: If you’re thinking of buying an 0800 number for your business, you can cap the cost of your incoming freephone calls by choosing an 0800 package that offers inclusive call minutes.
Where can you find a full list of call charges to UK phone numbers?
While we now have more clarity and transparency about call charges in the UK telecoms industry, there’s still confusion among many consumers. To try and clear up some of the confusion, we’ve published below a table outlining what you will be charged when calling any UK geographic and non-geographic number:
Table of Call Charges to all UK Phone Number Prefixes
|Number starts with||Description||Cost from landlines per minute (approximate)||Included in landline bundles & allowances?||Cost from mobiles per minute (approximate)||Included in mobile bundles & allowances?|
|Geographic landline numbers for areas within the UK||up to 13p||Evenings and weekends on many tariffs; all day on some||3p to 55p||Usually|
|UK-wide numbers||up to 9p||Evenings and weekends on many tariffs; all day on some||3p to 55p||Usually|
|030||Not-for-profit organisations, charities and public bodies||up to 10p||Evenings and weekends on many tariffs; all day on some||3p to 40p||Usually|
|VoIP and Corporate||2p to 13p||Rarely||10p to 55p||Never|
|07||Mobile phone numbers||10p to 20p||Included on some newer tariffs||3p to 55p||Usually|
|070||Personal or follow me numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority||4p to £3.40 (plus a possible 51p per call)||Never||30p to £2.50 (plus a possible 51p per call)||Never|
|076||Pagers||Up to 30p||Never||30p to 86p and/or up to £1.22 per call||Never|
|Freephone service||Free||Always Free to Call||Free||Always Free to Call|
|Business rate numbers||up to 7p and your phone company's access charge||Rarely||up to 7p and your phone company's access charge||Never|
|Business rate numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority||up to 13p and your phone company's access charge||Rarely||up to 13p and your phone company's access charge||Never|
|09||Premium rate numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority||up to £3.60 and your phone company's access charge, plus 5p to £6 per call||Never||up to £3.60 and your phone company's access charge, plus 5p to £6 per call||Never|
|101||Police non-emergency number||15p per call||Rarely||15p per call||Rarely|
|105||UK-wide power cut helpline||Free||Always Free to Call||Free||Always Free to Call|
|111||Non-emergency medical advice||Free||Always Free to Call||Free||Always Free to Call|
|112||Emergency services||Free||Always Free to Call||Free||Always Free to Call|
|116||116 numbers are used for certain services of social value which have the same six-digit number across the European Union||Free||Always Free to Call||Free||Always Free to Call|
|118||Directory enquiry numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority||up to £5 and your phone company's access charge, plus possibly up to £6.98 per call||Never||up to £5 and your phone company's access charge, plus possibly up to £6.98 per call||Never|
|999||Emergency services||Free||Always Free to Call||Free||Always Free to Call|
The prices are indicative only and should not be used as a definitive list of call charges. Actual costs depend on your communication provider and a number of factors such as individual calling plans, time of day and the exact number called. You should check with your provider before you dial.