Skip Navigation

BT make 0870 and 0845 numbers free to call
Thursday 08 January 2009 12:04:36 by John Hunt

14 million BT customers will benefit from January 16th with the inclusion of 0870 and 0845 numbers in call packages making them free to call for the first time. The numbers will be free to call for Anytime and also during unlimited period of the Evening & Weekend call plans.

Calls to these numbers have tended to cost more than than standard calls with 0845 numbers aimed at being 'local' rate and 0870 as 'national', however they have traditionally never been included in inclusive calls packages so users always end up paying more to call them. Many people will find that their ISP operate an 0845 or 0870 number along with banks and utility companies for support services and resent having to pay extra to phone them to get a problem fixed. This is made worse by the fact that companies who use 0870 numbers actually receive a small proportion of revenue from the calls.

A long standing consumer campaign,, has existed to help users find alternative geographical numbers for companies who use 0845 and 0870 numbers so that the call can be made using inclusive minutes. Ofcom have also reacted to this by bringing in new number ranges such as 03 which are to be charged at the same rate as calling a geographic number and included in call packages for free calls in the same way.

If more providers follow BT and switch to including 0870 and 0845 numbers, then the 03 range may become obsolete as companies prefer not to renumber. One caveat for these numbers does exist- they exclude ISP dial-up numbers (used for modems) and indirect access numbers (used to dial via another provider to make calls).


Posted by citizenx over 8 years ago
Perhaps BT and the others should have been compelled to charge them at the standard local and national rates (as was always the intention) and they can be inclusive anyway.

Of course, Ofcome and Oftel never regulated to compel them to do so.
Posted by bookey over 8 years ago
What about 0844 / 0871 numbers? As I seem to call them more than 0845.
Posted by meldrew over 8 years ago
I somehow get a feeling that this is going to cause even more confusion if some 08s are included and some aren't. Why can't they (everyone!)try to keep it simple.
Posted by tallseabird over 8 years ago
Exactly, its all a bit of a joke, Sky (for example) have changed from 0870 to 0844 and guess what that means - we still get to pay!!!

I commend saynoto0870 for their work but the culprits still duck and dive
Posted by carrot63 over 8 years ago
I'd say well done BT if it wasn'y about 3 years too late.

Ofcom have made a pigs breakfast of numbering and charging from day one, and constantly shifting their position on whether certain number ranges should be revenue sharing or not hasn't helped. The first squeal of a business interest and they back off.
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
well to paraphrase a saying.....( lock the door after it has escaped )

the horse escaped years ago, and NOW you unlock the door???
Posted by Khan over 8 years ago
It's those 0844 numbers that worry me more...
Posted by c_j_ over 8 years ago
Prices for 0845 and 0870 include a payment to a "number translation service" or NTS (of which BT are probably the UK's largest) and often include a "revenue share" to the folks receiving the call.

In the new regime, BT's left hand has to stop charging for these calls, and presumably stop paying some of that money to BT's right hand (eg the NTS or the 0870 providers)?

If you're CPW or Sky etc the "revenue share" and "number translation" will presumably still need paying for, so they'll be paying out but not receiving matching income.

BT press release:
Posted by danno1701 over 8 years ago
0844/0871 numbers will still be chargeable...
Posted by expressman33 over 8 years ago
what about thr customers who are on the "light user scheme"
Posted by danno1701 over 8 years ago
"Calls will automatically be included in the following calling plans so there is no need for customers to call us to request it: Unlimited Weekend, Unlimited Evening & Weekend, Unlimited Anytime, BT Together Local, BT Working Together, and BT Working together Talk.

Social telephony customers (BT Basic, Light User Scheme, InContact Plus) will not receive these calls for free as they already get a great deal on their telephony service."

Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
c_j_ - Erm no. The left hand will still charge the right hand. Different groups in a company still charge each other.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Its about time, though i suspect this will only apply to certain call packages you pay for. Still its a start and for once i have to partly congratulate BT on a decision they have made (should had been done ages ago though).
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
Now if BT removes all the 'new contract' stuff (your contract is EXTENDED by 12 months whenever you make any simple changes.. ) then they might get favored....
Posted by annapolis over 8 years ago
Re the comments re left hand and right hand, BT is constrained by regulation which forces it to pay over a chunk of revenue on these numbers to the terminating operator. I am sure it would prefer not to. Hopefully Ofcom will change this in the future. BT have done a lot more on this than the other providers - interesting to see if they react
Posted by therioman over 8 years ago
I believe though that there is a fair use policy of 150 calls/month or 1,000 minutes whichever is soonest after which they'll be charged.

Of course that's 16 hours a month of calls to those numbers, so unless you're on hold to someone for that long, you should be fine :-)

Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
BT say:

Free calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers
Availability of free 0845 and 0870 calls of up to 60 minutes duration (excluding indirect access numbers and dial-up internet access) dependent on residential BT Calling Plan: weekends only (with the Unlimited Weekend Plan), evening & weekends (with the Unlimited Evening & Weekend Plan), or any time (with the Unlimited Anytime Plan). Fair use policy applies – max. 1,000 mins or 150 calls a month. If either of these limits on free calls is exceeded, BT will charge for these calls until further notice.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 8 years ago
Sounds fair enough for me . I will still use the website to find landline numbers if they are sticking about ( for heavy people they will have a purpose but not for me who makes maybe 3-4 calls a month)

This is great news and even though it might be years over due why do people have to beat on them?
Posted by pcoventry76 over 8 years ago
BT i mean.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 8 years ago
Are you sure it's the 16th though? The BT website seems to indicate that it's from the day of their press release which was the 8th of Jan.

I've made an 0845 call today on the unlimited package and it's not shown up yet on the website as a chargeable call. It's been several hours and it usually updates by now.
Posted by citizenx over 8 years ago
comnut -

"Now if BT removes all the 'new contract' stuff (your contract is EXTENDED by 12 months whenever you make any simple changes.. ) then they might get favored...."

I only learned of this last week. Changing your package can incur an additional 12 months contract - for what exactly?! It's scandalous. Those terms were acceptable when additional cost was incurred to the company but now they're just being used as a revenue stream.

Personally, I would never wilfully use a BT service again in my life. Should I move somewhere I can't get cable i'll go mobile. BT do not exist imho.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 8 years ago
But they all do that. VM want a new 12 month agreement just to get 50MB.

Most companys do that.
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
er, we are talking about PHONE services, not BB.. :)
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
And VM has already hinted that it can do much more , but it has no trust that people will use it with respect...
Posted by citizenx over 8 years ago
>But they all do that. VM want a new 12 month agreement just to get 50MB

And I don't support that in principle either but the difference is they're moving users onto another part of their network. BT are changing commitment periods for a change of tariff which ONLY affects their own internal billing systems.

>Most companys do that.

Increasingly they are. These types of changes, quite rightly, were handled without commitment period amendments in the past. It would appear some have got wise to this as a way of screwing a few extra quid out of loyal punters.

Posted by citizenx over 8 years ago

BT can play the saviour of the day but that'll only be when they start paying back the countless millions they've robbed their customers of in this scam over the last decade or so.

As can all the other companies particularly the mobile operators.

This situation should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.
Posted by mctechlog over 8 years ago
Quite right about the mobile operators, citizenx, pisses me off that calling these numbers from mobiles on a monthly inclusive plannot is not only not free, but doesn't get in as part of your inclusive minutes, and gets charged at the "over the inclusive" rate e.g 16.5p a minute. Still have to have a landline . . .
Posted by citizenx over 8 years ago
I worked for one and always took exception to that. Why these numbers are treated like a revenue stream above and beyond the numbers they were meant to replace i'll never know.

Same goes for those charging for freephone numbers.

This industry has gone from being respectable to one populated with greedy, shifty con artists imho.

Posted by citizenx over 8 years ago

Any respectable regulator would have whipped them into touch long ago.

They'll be the ones who lose out when VOIP is ubiquitous so i have no sympathy.

I'm lucky then. I neither have nor want a landline!
Posted by kevinx over 8 years ago
For "my three penneth" I feel that those that use these numbers should be COMPELLED (by Ofcom or other regulatory body) to also publish the GEOGRAPHICAL numebr alongside. Wilst saynoto0870 do a grand job of offering a geographical number, I still feel that companies ought to publish this.
As a majority of us have cell phones, with an amount of free calls, the geographic number would be called for free. With an 08.... number (including 0800) there is a (premium) charge for connection.
Come of Ofcom (or other regulatory body), let's make the 08 number users also publish their geographic number.
Posted by kevinx over 8 years ago
Tip:- Another way (which sometimes works)of getting a geographic number from a company, is to ask them the number if calling rom abroad.
Sometimes (after the operator is confuced by your request) they will find a geog number.
Posted by kevinx over 8 years ago
Oops! Wilst = whilst and numebr = number (too quick on the keyboard!!)
Posted by dragon1945 over 8 years ago
I'm with talktalk. 01/02/03 numbers are inclusive, but all of my utilities use 0845 or 0870 numbers which I have to pay for...except EDF who use an 0800 number. Quite often "saynoto0870" does not have a geographical number. Ideal World TV changes theirs frequently, as soon as too many start using the number and they lose revenue. If an item is faulty it shouldn't cost you £6 in phone charges to sort the problem.
Posted by PBS1 over 8 years ago
Can anyone tell me if this will mean that for instance that my isp Tiscali will still charge for these numbers or not??? If they don't is this just another way for BT to gain the upper hand by forcing down revenues of the current isps that make money from these charges over and above there call packages.
Posted by Gethryn over 8 years ago
The writing has been on the wall for 0845 and 0870 for quite some time.

Unfortunately, some of the less reputable businesses in Rip Off Britain (like Banks for example) may well move on to the even more expensive 0871 range, the exodus has started already. Hence the saving from BT's cunning move may soon evaporate!
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
If they had to publish the geographical number what's the point of an 08 number? One reason for 08 numbers used to be to be able to do clever routing but 03 numbers are now available for that. So it call comes down to charging and revenue share...
Posted by citizenx over 8 years ago
03* numbers already existed for that purpose somerset.. in the roundabout world of telecommunications it seems we've come full circle.

It is almost like the regulator and telcoms providers colluded for best part of 20 years to keep prices artificially high..
Posted by vulcandave over 8 years ago
I think that 0844 numbers are far more worrying and expensive and should be included.
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
03 numbers have only been around for about a year.
Posted by citizenx over 8 years ago
0345 numbers have been around for ~20 years!
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
sure, but all that changed...
031 used to be Edinburgh...

Nowadays there are some exchange numbers 'unused' - these seem to have been taken by telephone scammers...
Posted by Somerset over 8 years ago
Wake up! 0345 local rate numbers became 0845 years ago.

03 numbers are now non geographical (so they can have clever routing to multiple sites etc.) and are part of 01 and 02 call packages.
Posted by NICK_ADSL_UK over 8 years ago
Please note that many companies are now switching to 0844 to get round this over the coming weeks
Posted by knicol46 over 8 years ago
in addition to getting free 0870/0845 calls at weekends BT customers are also getting from 1 April 2009:

Line Rental going up by £1 a month

Daytime UK call cost up to 4.5p per minute

Calling Features packs all going up - 5 features or more will now cost £7 a month

Evening & Weekend plan is going up to £2.95 a month (was £2.65) up 11.3%

welcome to BT!!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
^^^ Indeed no shocker turns out it was more BT BS and PR blub, i said well done to them in this story to begin with...... My faith they are pure scum has now been restored though.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.