Ofcom launches consultation to get rid of charge confusion

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has launched a consultation into making calls to 0800 numbers free in order to simplify users' lives.

The regulator said it launched the consultation to get rid of confusion over the cost of calls to non-geographic numbers that start with 03, 08, 09 and 118. These numbers are largely used by charities, Government agencies and businesses. These numbers are also widely used for public voting for popular TV shows such as X Factor.

Under the proposal, calls to 0800 will be free from mobile phones. Currently, calls to 0800 numbers are free from landlines, but cost 0.40 pounds per minutes from mobile phones.

Different studies have claimed that consumers are confused about the cost of calling to these numbers. Moreover, the lack of transparency is discouraging people, particularly in the low-income group, from accessing these telephone services.

Commenting on the topic, Ofcom’s chief executive Ed Richards said, “There is clear evidence of widespread uncertainty about the cost of these numbers. Consumers need to have more transparency about the price they pay.”

Under the proposals, there will be clear categories of numbers. Geographic rates will include 01, 02 and 03. 0843/4 and 5 and 0871/2 and 3 numbers will indicate low cost business numbers. 07 will indicate mobile rates, while 0800 will be free from landlines and mobiles.