Calling 0800 numbers for free from mobiles

by Jonathan Jensen on 11th May 2009

One of the ‘features’ that annoys me the most about UK mobile phones is the policy of all the big operators of charging to call 0800 numbers (with the exception of a few helplines). 0800 numbers are free from landlines and it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect them to be free from mobiles. I know there are issues around interconnect rates but that’s not the consumer’s problem and is the bad publicity for the mobile operators really worth it? From a customer experience perspective, the calls are free on landlines so they should be free on mobiles (they were on Orange in the early days). In fact the issue is even worse because not only are they chargeable but they aren’t included in call bundles so they always appear as an extra charge on your bill. If you make a lot of calls to 0800 numbers the costs soon mount up. Consumer Focus the UK organisation that campaigns on behalf of consumers is pushing for calls to all 0800 numbers to be free from mobiles but while we wait to see what happens here there is a simple way to avoid the cost.

Several service providers have sprung up recently that route calls to 0800 numbers via a 01 or 02 access number. As 01 and 02 calls come out of mobile call bundles, this effectively makes 0800 calls free (as long as you don’t exceed your call bundle). I’ve been using 0800Buster and have stored the access number in my handset so it’s easily available. If there are 0800 numbers that you call regularly you can store them in your mobile using a pause between the access number and the 0800 number.

For example, to store 0800 123 4567 using 0800Buster, save the following number in your mobile:

01255840800p08001234567#

The ‘p’ represents a pause and is obtained by pressing + three times on a Nokia handset.

There’s always the risk that the mobile operators will bar the access numbers but if they do check back to the provider’s website and there’s bound to be a replacement. 0800Buster cycle through a series of numbers; if you clear your cookies you’ll probably see a different one on their site. I’ve found ten so far and I’ve only reached 012!

This 0800 tip is great because it’s simple and Normob friendly – you don’t have to be a mobile geek to use it!

Jonathan’s also at Sevendotzero.

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