Say no to 0845 and 0870 numbers: how to call them for free
These numbers can cost a fortune, so here are some ways to avoid paying for them.
0870 and 0845 numbers have long been a controversial topic. They’re often used for banks’ customer service lines as well as broadband technical support and complaints. As a result we're often charged extra to complain about a product or service that doesn’t work. The irony...
These calls don’t come cheap either. Here's how you can cut the cost of them.
Move to a package that offers them for free
Many phone providers now offer free calls to 0870 and 0845 numbers. BT was the first to make the move in January 2009 and others swiftly followed. Check what's included in your home phone package and when you can call them, i.e. is it just evenings or weekends or all the time?
Find a free number
The website saynoto0870.com provides a list of alternative 01/02/03 numbers that can be dialled instead of an 0845 or 0870 number. However, it's not foolproof and sadly there are some scammers posting fake phone numbers on there. Tread with a bit of caution.
You could also look on a company's website for numbers that are meant for people to use if they're calling from overseas. Believe it or not, some companies now block these numbers if you're calling them from a UK landline or mobile. Alternatively, you could call a company's sales line, if it's free (and let's face it, they generally are as they want our business), and ask to be transferred at their expense.
You could also use an override provider - this is a phone company that undercuts your regular phone supplier. For example, 18185 charges 1p/min plus 5p connection charge to Virgin Media customers while Virgin charges 8.68p/min with a 12.24p connection charge. You just sign up and then dial a prefix number before the phone number you are calling.
Even if you just buy your line rental from BT but don't have a phone contract with them, you should be able to route your calls via them by dialling 1280 before the phone number. This may not work with all phone providers and the calls will only be free at weekends, as you're essentially piggybacking your call onto BT's most basic package, which just offers free calls at weekends. But it's worth a try.
What about 0871 and 0844?
Calls to 0871 and 0844 numbers are not included in any packages and these numbers are often used by GPs and the NHS – something that has created something of an outrage. Call charges start at 5p a minute, but depend on who your home phone or mobile contract is with.
This is a classic lovemoney article that has been updated
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