We're talking telephone numbers
Calling 0831 or 0991? It could cost more than you think,
Sunday 19 January 1997
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
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
0898 49p peak, 39p off-peak and weekends
0891 50p peak, 45p off-peak and weekends
0991 149p at all times
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
0345, 0845 3.95p peak, 1.65p off-peak, 1p weekends
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".
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
30 August 2014 12:00 AM
05 September 2014 11:30 PM
30 August 2014 12:00 AM
The UK has slipped to 11th in the latest European league table of savers. Rob Griffin checks out the best options
22 August 2014 10:30 PM
Caroline Flint, the shadow energy secretary, says a Labour government would create a new energy regulator
22 August 2014 10:30 PM
16 August 2014 12:00 AM
16 August 2014 12:00 AM
08 August 2014 11:30 PM
- 1 Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
- 2 Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
- 3 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 4 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
iJobs Money & Business
£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...
To £85,000 + banking benefits: Saxton Leigh: You will be expected to carry out...
Up to £90,000 + benefits: Saxton Leigh: Credit Risk Audit Manager required to ...
Day In a Page
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000