We're talking telephone numbers

Calling 0831 or 0991? It could cost more than you think,

Mobile phones and pagers were popular presents last Christmas. But under the wrapping can lie a gift with hidden costs. Leaving aside the price of making a call from a mobile phone, a five-minute call to someone's mobile, on a weekday, can cost almost pounds 2, and a call to a pager more than 50p.

Anyone ringing an Orange or One 2 One phone is in for a particular shock. From 19 February, the cost of calls to these mobiles from an ordinary phone will almost double, to 30p per minute during the day and 20p per minute on weekday evenings.

The new prices were announced the week before Christmas, when many presents were already under the tree.

The mobile phone networks claim they were making a loss on calls from fixed phones and point out that their phones still cost less to call than rivals Cellnet or Vodafone (37.5p a minute on weekdays). However, users may feel entitled to be upset, given that cheaper incoming calls might well have been a reason for choosing a particular phone.

Mobile phones are just one of a growing band of special-tariff numbers that can inflate normal phone bills. And such is the plethora of new services on the market that it is not always easy to spot which are the expensive numbers: BT's published list is five pages long.

National Phoneday two years ago made some headway in helping to highlight potentially expensive numbers by giving an extra 1 to all standard phone numbers. But even so, there are exceptions. Some pagers have ordinary sounding numbers, but extraordinary costs: 015231 numbers cost 54.99p per call; 014263 cost 24.68p.

Phoneday did little to distinguish free, low-cost and premium lines. BT's free and reduced- rate numbers are reasonably well known (0800 and 0345, respectively), but more telephone firms are entering the market, each with their own numbers for free or low-cost calls.

Personal numbers - which track down subscribers wherever they are - also underline the confusing range of prices. Mercury's recently launched Call Direct (0541), costs the national long-distance rate to call. Competitors operating personal numbers starting with 07 cost far more. Some cost 16.7p per minute peak rate, some 30p and some 41.05p; and the numbers themselves are hard to tell apart.

Elsewhere, large companies such as the insurer Equitable Life are switching their publicly published numbers to the 0990 or 0541 codes. This brings advantages to companies by simplifying their administration but not to callers. Call an 0990 number and you will pay the long-distance rate, even if the company has its offices in the next street.

The long-distance charges differ from phone company to phone company, and are higher from payphones, mobiles or using chargecards.

There are other traps for the unwary. Advertisers have to state if a number is premium rate,

but it is usually in small print. The 0990 code - 8.79p per minute peak, the UK national rate - is very similar to premium rate 0991. One wrong digit could prove expensive: 0991 calls are 149.99p a minute at any time.

There are further pitfalls calling and using mobile phones. Vodafone and Cellnet answer automatically if a phone is out of reach, and callers pay to get this response. Free-call numbers are not free from all mobiles. And if your mobile fails, some networks' customer service numbers are on mobile codes that are free from the handset but at the full rate from an ordinary phone.

This week, Oftel, the telecoms regulator, is expected to announce proposals that will improve the situation. According to its consultation documents, ordinary numbers (geographic in the jargon) will start 01 or 02, mobiles, pagers and personal numbers will start 07, free, local and national rate calls 08, and premium rate codes 09. But some will not change until 2001, though Oftel will be encouraging premium rate numbers to move to 09 as soon as possible.

The phone companies accept that the current situation leaves much to be desired. "We sympathise with customers," a BT spokesman admits. "It can be confusing, and it is something the industry should look at."

At the same time, the companies are asking for the new system to be introduced slowly so they can move customers over to it gently. The prognosis of many is that confusion will worsen before it improves, as old and new numbers run side by side.

IT'S DEAR TO TALK

Mobile phones Cost to call per minute

0958, 0973, 0976 30p peak, 20p off-peak, 10p weekend

0831, 0370, 0378 37.5p peak, 25p off-peak, 12.5p weekend

Orange and One 2 One are slighly cheaper to call than Cellnet or Vodafone

Pagers

014264 8.23p peak, 3.95p off-peak, 3.29p weekend

014266 24.675p at all times

015231 54.99p peak, 34.9p off-peak

Premium rate

0898 49p peak, 39p off-peak and weekends

0891 50p peak, 45p off-peak and weekends

0991 149p at all times

Personal numbers

07000 16.71p peak, 9.85p off-peak and weekends

07050, 07060 41.05p peak, 28.32p off-peak

National-rate calls (long-distance charge regardless of call distance)

0990, 05415 8.79p peak, 7.29p off-peak, 3.29p weekends

Low-cost/low-rate calls

0345, 0845 3.95p peak, 1.65p off-peak, 1p weekends

Freephone

0800, 0500, 0321 Company with the number pays all the cost

All prices include VAT. Call BT on Freephone 0800 800 891 for a free copy of "The Call Price Leaflet for Residential Customers".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Love but not marriage: property is one area where cohabiting couples are in danger of losing out

How couples can protect their financial interests when cohabiting

People who simply live together cannot assume they have the same rights to each other's assets as spouses or civil partners. Michelle McGagh sees how they can protect their financial interests

India could be jewel in the crown for investors

With a new government and an ambitious prime minister, the country offers the prospect of strong returns. But there may be hiccups ahead, warns Simon Read

Child Maintenance Service to replace Child Support Agency - but is it better?

Reforms to the vexed question of child support payments by absent parents mean extra charges for both sides. Neasa Macerlean reports

Barclays's new life insurance heralds a revolution on the high street

The new product marks a shift towards 'clear, straightforward and standardised' banking products, says Simon Read

How to protect your assets if the stock markets begin to head south again

Are you worried about your portfolio? Nick Paler asks fund managers and investment insiders for advice
Fuel poverty campaigners united in criticising the delays in helping those in fuel poverty

Plans to tackle fuel poverty are slammed by campaigners

Charities and action groups believe that the Government's proposals are woefully inadequate
Sell it with flowers: competition is 'intense' for homes with outside spaces

Gardens add a tenth to the value of your home

A London estate agent yesterday put a price on having a garden. David Pollock of Greene & Co reckons it can increase a property's value by a tenth.

Spectators at the Isle of Wight music festival watch the World Cup on the big screen. Betting promotions were a feature of the tournament
Lenders have been accused of persuading vulnerable people to borrow expensive credit

Payday loan firms accused of bombarding vulnerable people with nuisance phone calls

Payday loan firms have been accused of bombarding financially vulnerable people with nuisance phone calls, after a debt charity reported that a third of its clients were plagued by the messages.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

    Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

    Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

    £30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

    UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed