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Free 0800 mobile calls proposed

Calls to 0800 telephone numbers could be free from mobiles in a bid to tackle consumer confusion about costs, Ofcom has announced.

The proposals are part of plans to clarify the range of costs for calling businesses, public services and other organisations on 03, 08, 09 and 118 numbers.

The vast majority of 0800 phone numbers currently cost mobile callers up to 21p a minute. These would become free under the proposals to bring them in to line with landlines.

Ofcom is also proposing to clarify and simplify charges to 08, 09 and 118 numbers, which include information, banking, directory inquiry and entertainment services. Unless they are using a BT line, callers are unable to tell how much they will be charged for such calls or compare it to the cost of the service being provided.

The proposals would give "clear, transparent information on both" and help consumers regain trust in these numbers, Ofcom said.

Virtually every consumer and company uses non-geographic numbers to call businesses and government agencies like HM Revenue and Customs and NHS Direct, make payments for services and vote on TV shows.

However, Ofcom said research had shown many people were confused about what non-geographic numbers were for and how much they cost, resulting in a lack of confidence and trust in the services.

As a result, consumers made fewer calls to these numbers, providers were discouraged from using them and there was less innovation that might benefit consumers. Ofcom said it intended to make a final decision on the new rules by early 2013.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: "By making calls to 0800 numbers free from all phones, we will clear up any uncertainty about making calls, especially from mobiles, to the benefit of consumers and service providers alike."

Consumer Focus director of policy and external affairs Adam Scorer said: "Complex and confusing charges are a huge bugbear for consumers and changes to make this part of the market simpler are long overdue. We would like to see them brought in as quickly as possible."

comments: 4

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Added on: July 1 2014 13:33
Karl White from Enfield
Doctors, Electricity, Gas, Banks, just about everybody is using some kind of 08 number, in the good old days orange did 0800/0500 charge free, lets bring them days back! wouldn't it be great, come on Orange !
Added on: December 17 2013 01:34
Vicky from London
I've just been on the phone to the gas emergency line because my carbon monoxide alarm went off. I assumed an emergency number would be free but I now discover as it was an 0800 number that I'll probably have to pay for it. And I still can't easily find anywhere how much I might have to pay Orange for my emergency call...
Added on: November 19 2013 13:53
Jay from Manchester
If Orange even knew the amount of ANGER that getting charged for 0800 numbers created I'm sure they'd pull their fingers out of their very tight holes and be able to retain consumers. I for one was over the moon when I could go to THREE who (despite using overseas call centres) know how to build and strengthen consumer loyalty.
Added on: September 19 2013 10:11
sharon shaw from doncaster
184.00 orange are so robbing cost me 20.00 for an half an hour call to my mortgage company. I will not be renewing my contract!!!
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