Ofcom makes calls to “Freephone” numbers free from mobiles

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From Wednesday, calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers will be free for consumers from all phones, including mobile

Ofcom will introduce the biggest change to telephone calls in years by making all calls to 0800 and 0808 free from mobiles, affecting more than 175 million numbers.

From Wednesday (July 1), the regulator will force service providers to make calls to “freephone” numbers free, and clear up costs around numbers starting 084, 087, 09 and 118.

Research from Ofcom found that callers in the UK spend 250 million hours calling these numbers every year, costing around £900 million.

The cost of these calls was often unclear, according to Ofcom, with service providers failing to warn consumers how much they will be charged making these calls.

From Wednesday, calls to service numbers will be made up of an “access charge” which will go to the provider, plus a “service charge” set by the company or organisation being called.

Telecoms companies will be responsible for setting the access charge and will be tasked with making it clear to consumers how much they are paying on their bills. They will also be required to inform new customers of the charge when they sign up to a new deal.

“Biggest change in a decade”

Mobile users have previously been forced to pay for calls to 0800 numbers, despite them being labelled “freephone” numbers and costing nothing from landlines. Sharon White Hi-res - March 2015

Ofcom chief executive Sharon White (pictured) said: “UK Calling is the biggest change to telephone calls in over a decade.

“Together we spend around £900 million a year calling service numbers, so it’s important that people understand the cost before they pick up the phone.

“Callers will be able to see what they’re paying and where their money is going. You can visit ukcalling.info for more information on the changes, and what they mean for you.”

Previously, callers have been given information such as:

“Calls cost xp per minute from a BT landline. Calls may vary from other landlines and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more.”

Ofcom said that under the new system, the cost of calls will be explained in a simpler format such as:

“Calls cost Xp per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.”

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