The UK phone market is now saturated with a confusing array of Non-Geographic number prefixes. This blog is an attempt to shed some light one one particular type of number, known as Freephone or 0800 Numbers.
For those of you who might be unsure how Freephone numbers compare with other types of non-geographic prefixes, below is a summary of the main differences (source: Wikipedia – Non-geographic telephone numbers in the United Kingdom)
Numbers starting with ’03’ are non-geographic numbers charged at standard geographic rates. Calls to these numbers cost exactly the same as calls to regular local or national landlines (those starting with 01 or 02). Regulation ensures that if a tariff offers inclusive minutes or free calls to numbers starting with 01 or 02, calls to 03 numbers must be included on exactly the same terms.
Since their introduction in 2007, these 03 numbers have been the only variety of non-geographic number whose charge is officially linked to that of geographic numbers. No provision has been made for replicating the old ‘local rate’ or ‘national rate’ prefixes, as almost all UK telephone operators now charge all landline calls at the same rate, regardless of location.
Also known variously as premium rate, special rate or business rate, these numbers have a two-part charging structure. Call charges consist of a service charge which benefits the organisation being called or their telecoms supplier, and a per-minute access charge levied by the caller’s own phone company.
The service charge is charged at the same rate regardless of which telephone company the caller uses. The rate that applies must be detailed wherever the number is publicised and falls into the following bands:
- 084 numbers: up to 7p per minute and/or 7p per call
- 087 numbers: up to 13p per minute and/or 13p per call
- 09 numbers: up to £3.60p per minute and/or £6.00p per call
The access charge varies considerably by operator, with landline calls typically charged at 7p to 12p per minute and major mobile phone operators charging around 45p per minute.
Numbers starting 070 are intended to offer non-geographic number functionality to individuals – such as by allowing people to have a single number that directs calls to their home, work or mobile phone as they choose. They are controversial as they can be confused for mobile numbers, and therefore the cost of calls to them may not be apparent to callers until they receive their bills.