back to article BT cuts 0870 charges

BT has today cut the cost of calling 0845 and 0870 to zero for many of its customers, following a consumer campaign against companies profiting from premium rate lines. Subscribers to BT's Anytime package will get free 0845 and 0870 calls at all times, while Evening and Weekend customers' calls will be free after 6pm Monday- …


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  1. Glenn Gilbert

    And the mobile suppliers?

    It would be even nicer if you didn't have to pay through the nose when calling a 'free' number from a mobile. O2, we're talking about you...

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse


    BT said the changes would cost it "tens of millions" of pounds, but had decided "to give customers what they want".

    And then went on to add that "We're not to worried about the loss of revenue as we'll make it up from all those dumb-asses that we fleece through our deployment of Webwise".

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I'm still 'No to 0870'

    Will mobile companies follow suit? They chare for all 08 numbers (including 0800) and many do not allow you to pay for it with your normal minute allowances.

    I had to remind a BT operator that I was on a mobile, so could not sit on their 0800 number for too long as I was having to pay for it.

  4. OFI
    Thumb Up

    At last


    Now O2 need to sort it out with the 0800 numbers like others have said!

  5. Jerome

    Damn right

    "BT said the changes would cost it "tens of millions" of pounds"

    Aww, poor BT. Why don't they just pass on these costs to the companies who have these numbers? I don't understand how a company can get away with charging me to talk to them about something they've done wrong. It's funny how the Sales line is always a freephone number though, isn't it?

  6. Joe

    08 numbers

    I'm sure I remember that some time in the distant past when all of the numbers were reorganised that the 09 prefix was added for calls charged at above the national rate and 08 limited to national rate or below, hence the demise of the 0898 prefix.

    080 free

    084 local rate

    087 national rate

    I'd operated under that assumption from land lines only to discover that those principles were quietly ditched somewhere...

  7. Philip the Duck

    O2 Freefone?

    When I was last on an O2 contract, calls to 0800 numbers were free as long as you dropped the leading '0', and dialed starting 800... - is this not still the case?

    And why are the other mobile companies allowed to charge for "freefone" 0800 numbers anyway?

  8. Mike Watt

    Awesome, but...

    ... Will the owners of said numbers still get a cut of the calling charge? Whether I'm directly paying for it or not I still don't want a company getting paid when I want to complain, need a problem fixed, etc etc.

  9. Wibbly Wobbly
    Thumb Down


    0870 and 0845 numbers may be going free for consumers, but I DON'T think even for land line phones this includes 0871, 0844 etc. numbers. I think many will assume it does :-|

  10. Anonymous Coward

    8070 a ripoff?

    Pah, amateurs!

    See here:

    Now *that's* what I call a ripoff. Premium rate numbers and then the first thing they want is your credit card details, so they can bill you, per minute, on *top* of that. Paying such eyewateringly high rates while some steaming incompetant explains (at length, with music on hold of course) what they've fucked up this time is insult on injury and no mistake.

    If don't know who runs this bunch of thieving bastards called "Abtran", but the word "cunt" seems somehow inadequate for him.

  11. David Edwards

    Its not a simple as Greedy Companies

    I looked at settup up an 0845 number for our small consulting company for a project we were doing where we wanted a non geographic number. I stress the NON GEOGRAPHIC nature as we did nto want out location out in the sticks to be an issue for the project.

    IF you set up a NGN then uless its freephone there is NO WAY that the business (you) cant earn revenue form it as BT's structure is geared towards YOU charging your customers and You AND BT profiting from that charge.So lats saya call is 7p min bt get 3p and you get 4p. If you say I DONT WANT that 4p. they say sorry thats how it works!!!

    So if you are thinking of moving offices and dont want to reprint your staitionay ever time you are stuffed.

    Also try putting a statement about how much it costs to call your support line on your website without a flat rage NGN. (profits and costs aside)

  12. Gulfie

    @Philip the Duck

    I'm on O2 at the moment. You can't dial '0800' at all. You drop the leading zero and pay to call as well...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    RE: Awesome, but...

    Revenue sharing from 0870 ended a while ago (look on Google) - 0871 numbers are the "new" 0870 numbers if you like. I have one and give it out to those companies that love to ring you all the time to sell you stuff - you get paid for the call - haha

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    I recently went back to an 02 contract after years and years with an Orange contract and then various pay as you go on with all the others networks . I couldn't believe it recently when I made an 0800 call from my o2 phon only to hear the same recorded message as 10 years or so ago stating "Access to the number you have dialled is not free of charge from mobile phones" - WTF! Well it is certainly free on Orange when I was with them! OFCOM where are you?

  15. Dan Herd

    @David Edwards

    You could offer everyone who calls you 4p/min rebate cheques.

  16. David Edwards

    To clarify

    If you want to get 1000 mugs to giveaway to customers over the next year but know that your office lease expires in 6 months. The only way to keep a number is opt for a NGN which you have no choice but to "profit" from with BT doing nicley as well thanks.

    If BT gave a hoot they would phase out geographical charges and numbers so that you dont need NGN in the first place and then call charging would be simple(ish)

  17. AJ


    Now the other firms need to follow suit, including Virgin Media who have got more expensive since the old NTL - Telewest days its not even funny!

  18. David Edwards

    Oh dear

    If BT have changed the revenue model than my comments no longer hold water (although the 1000 Mugs would) This was about 18motnhs ago.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big up!

    Good to see this site getting a mention - I use it many many times and it's probably saved me a fortune calling from my moby (which has oooodles of free minutes!).

    As to what not to call, I simply use the rule of thumb if it's 08-anything I avoid it like the plague (see above). geographics and 03 numbers yes, 0800's I will of course but you don't get all that many of them unless you're calling a sales line (NEVER support).

    I do rather like the idea of getting yourself an 0870 number though and giving it out to agencies, salespeople, etc... ;-)

  20. Martin Lee

    @David Edwards

    Or do what a lot of other companies do and get a VoIP number which follows you no matter where your office is.

  21. John Bayly


    I always use, though quite a few places give a number to call when outside the UK.

  22. A J Stiles

    @ Joe

    How long is it since you looked at a phone bill?

    There is no such thing as local, regional and national rate anymore. Just landlines (01, 02 and now 03), mobiles (07) and special rate (08 and 09).

  23. Dave

    Nice of them...

    Nice of them to do this - I guess most people would have been happy enough to go back to the original idea behind the plan, where calling 0845 would cost you the same as calling next door, and 0870 the same as calling long-distance, including any discounts and free minute deals affecting those calls.

  24. chris gould
    Thumb Down

    Great Move

    That's fantastic, make them free now everyone and his dog have migrated to 0871 / 0844 to make even more money.

    I make a point to never deal with any company that will not provide me with a geographical number.

    Most of the numbers on "say no" have been disconnected as more and more companies get wise to the workaround.

  25. Ray

    Alternatives for 0845 for SMEs?

    We have an 0845 number that routes to a 01 number. We don't receive a penny on calls. This means that we can keep the number if/when we move to a different office. Also we can route call to our home number.

    I'd prefer a 01 or 02 number that is similarly portable and flexible. All the providers I've looked at charge for INCOMING calls. I'm not keen to take on this additional expense. Voip terminating at a landline number has similar costs and is waste of time if you have an internet connection outage.

    Any suggestions from the sanctimonious 08 number hating lot?

  26. Tom Wood

    03 numbers

    @David Edwards - get an 03 number. Non-geographic, but charged the same as calls to landlines.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Mike Watt

    A lot of these numbers won't be on BT's network and BT can't not pay the transit charges to other operators, so yes, these companies will still get paid.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    0800 number owners ALWAYS get your CLID

    Something that hasn't been mentioned so far is that companies and the state like 08xx numbers because they always get the caller's number.

    You know how you can withhold your number by preceding who you call with 141? Well, do that and ring an 0800 number and they will get your number anyway. The excuse is that as the 0800 number owner is paying the bill, they need the number. If you have a look at the sales info on sites that sell 08xx numbers you will see they kinda mention that you always get the caller's number, and the text is the same for 0800, 0845, 0871 etc..

    I have personally confirmed that 0800 number operators do get the caller's number though. I needed to speak to the dole office, and called their 0800 number from a BT landline, withholding my number with 141. When the goon at the other end asked what my phone number was, I said it was the number I was calling from, and he had no problem determining my BT landline number. The next time you ring an 08xx number, withhold your number and ask the person in the call centre if they can see your number anyway.

    So, this is another reason why 08xx numbers are popular. As I understand it, if you provide personal details to a company whilst making an enquiry about a product they are allowed to use that info to spam you, or sell on the info. I think this is one of the reasons why those sales lines are always 0800 (apart from the obvious cost-freeness to draw in punters).

  29. Hamza
    Thumb Up

    Oh dear oh dear

    @David Edwards

    03xx numbers are non-geographic and the caller doesn't pay any extra over an 01 or 02 number. But the owner of the number has to pay to receive the calls, so that should make you feel better about having one. Interested? No, I didn't think so.

    @AC "Re: Awesome, but"

    Revenue payments have not ended on 0870 numbers; they were supposed to end over a year ago I think but Ofcom keep bottling it.


    You might not be getting anything from your 0845 calls but your supplier will be creaming off up to a penny or so a minute from your customers.

    @AC "0800 number owners ALWAYS get your CLID"

    No. Your number is never really completely withheld by 141 it's true, and some organisations can gain access to withheld numbers if they're far enough up the network pecking order, but only for billing purposes. What is not true is that this only applies to 0800 numbers or any other type of 08xx number. If a disreputable 08xx network provider is giving their customers access to this data willy-nilly then that is not on, and I think the Information Commissioners Office would have something to say about that.

    Face it people, it costs money to run a phone system, let alone complex follow-the-sun routing all over the world (or even between Milton Keynes and Newcastle) so go easy on the companies making an extra couple of pence to help cover it. It's either that or having to call a zillion different numbers yourself to find the right person to speak to, and it's not their fault that Ofcom keeps messing things up.

  30. Simon Brown

    @David Edwards


    Just make sure you tell and keep them updated with your numbers.

    The kinds of people who are parochial enough to care that you're out in the styx will be too stupid to look on there. The rest of us will save money :)


  31. Adrian Waterworth
    Black Helicopters

    @AC 21:23 GMT

    Unless things have changed, you'll probably find that if the person you're calling has the right equipment and the phone company/network allows it, then anyone you call on any number can get your CLID - whether you withhold it or not. The obvious - and reasonable - example is the emergency services who always receive CLID. Leastways they used to.

    It's been a while, but I vaguely remember that there are effectively two levels of CLID (or something like that), one of which you can withhold and one which is always there if you've got the right setup to see it.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Get fact right people!

    I know it's difficult for some people to rant before they get any facts. But can I point out some FACTS:

    @Martin Lee

    External VoIp. Shut up you amateur, yes it may work for your micky mouse systems., but I'll trust our 2000 lines to a VoIP company over my dead body! Maybe in 5 years, but not now!

    We use non geos extensivly (0845's). Is it to rip you off? Well here's your alternative.

    Dial 0121 123 xxxx. Oh it's faulty.

    Ok Dial 0201 xxx xxx. Oh it's busy

    Ok redial 0121 321 xxxx, oh good it's ringing. Oh hold on, it's after 5.30.

    Ok now need to dial 0121 456. Ah same fault as before.

    Ok 0201 456. Oops busy,

    Ahh I see they relocated.

    Ok new 20 numbers to try....

    etc etc.....

    or dial

    0845 xxx xxxx anytime of day or night.

    Still we're happy to give out the 20 numbers to our customers if they demand it.

    Still i think the way foward is using Ip addresses instead of DNS entries!

  33. Busted

    This will still cost you.

    Simple fact is a lot of business use 0845 0870 08x as it means they can have fancy phone services without the costs. If revenue stops getting generated by this then they will have to pay for these fancy services and that cost will be passed on to the consumer in other ways. The only issue I have with these numbers is the rates that Mobile operators charge for calling them.

  34. A J Stiles

    @ AC

    Try calling *my* line with your number withheld and see what you get!

    It's the telephonical equivalent of wearing a mask and jumping on someone from behind, and the day it becomes illegal not to show your caller ID it can't come soon enough.

  35. Steven Jones


    As usual there are loads of misunderstandings about this issue. Firstly, BT does not decide the numbering system in the UK and hasn't for many, manny years. That's Ofcom's role (and, before that, Oftel), and they define what the structure of the numbering system is, the role of 0845, 0870 and so on.

    Also to the paranoid AC, call centres and the like on 08xx numbers do not get the originating phone number if it is supressed by the caller (although it is passed through the phone network, it doesn't get as far as the terminating point). The only exception is the operators of emergency services, like 999 for obvious reasons.

    The way that charging for 0845, 0870 and the like work is that the wholesale operator of the service (and there are lots of those) makes a termination charge to the originating network. It's a (regulated) charge, either at a fixed rate for some numbers or over a range of rates for premium rate numbers.

    It is totally up to the retail seller on the originating network, whether that's fixed line, IP or mobile, how much to charge their customer. In fact all termination systems work in essentially the same way - it's just that the regulated rate for 0845, 0870 and so on is higher than for normal, geographical numbers. It is that higher termination charge that allows for revenue sharing with the company using the number.

  36. robert


    remember them? Will making calls to these numbers be free from payphones too ?

  37. Richard Porter

    Get Fact Right AC

    VoIP is used by the tecos. It greatly reduces equipment overheads because the network fabric does the switching. Of course they use private managed IP networks and not the public internet - that's the distinction.

    Eventually the telcos will have to go over to the ISP model of charging where you pay a subscription for the service and calls are free (but within limits set by the level of service you subscribe to).

  38. George Forth
    Thumb Down

    The actual offensive part

    "the Department of Health is currently reviewing whether services such as NHS Direct should be allowed to effectively charge people to call."

    What's wrong with charging people to call? You don't get something for nothing in this day and age.

    No, the insulting bit is that the companies are paid when we call them. Not only that but the distinction between local and national calls evaporated a good few years ago, but still "national rate" or "local rate" are peddled as helpful pieces of information by marketing departments.

    I don't see anything wrong per se with premium rate numbers in their place, but pretending that they are doing us a favour by removing the worry of a geographic STD code while removing our ability to use inclusive call plans is stupid and offensive.

  39. Nano nano

    say no to 0870 phishing ...

    Only trouble with the 'say no' website is you have no guarantee that the alternative number you are calling is the pukka service ...

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ say no to 0870 phishing

    Last time I looked, all numbers on saynoto0870 are added manually and checked before being published. If you suspect a problem, contact the site - they have a forum, too.

    Which reminds me, I must give them my VoIP 020 number for those who don't like phoning 0844 numbers. As I work from home, I don't want my domestic number going public and ringing with business calls.

    I could not work without my 0844 number. It pays me nothing, in exchange for allowing the provider to give me a free number (many get charged for their number) plus it sends me an email including voice mail for any missed calls. It means I can 'switch off' the number out of business hours and get a list of which calls I missed and phone people back the next day - most useful for a small business where ever customer counts. Plus, just like at home, most telesales nuisance calls withhold their number so I can ignore them.

    You may not like 08xx numbers but they do help businesses deal with customer queries. And are a lot cheaper for small businesses who may not want a big switchboard and call diverting to home workers - have you seen how much BT charge for home worker phone services?

  41. Robert Brown
    Thumb Down

    @O2 Freefone

    Wasn't free for me when I was on O2. The "drop the 0" was something to stop you inadvertently dialling an 0800 number expecting it to be free. Instead you got a message saying dial again without the 0 to accept the charges.

    Fair enough if these numbers aren't free from a mobile, but why can't they just take the minutes our of your tariff's free minutes? Very clinical and money grabbing IMO.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Department of Health consulatation

    I can see why BT have done this...

    The Department of Health (and other companies) new call charge advice will be:

    "Calls are free from a BT landline, other service providers may vary."


    Everyone who had moved away from BT will consider switching back to them again?

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