About time too!
The telephone regulator, Ofcom, is consulting on whether to change the system for non-geographic telephone numbers such as 0800 and 0845 numbers. I hope they do because it’s a nightmare for a lot people on low incomes who only have a mobile phone.
Right now HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) insist that their customers use 0845 numbers to contact them. Unlike 0800 numbers, which are free from landlines, these incur a charge, as we know. Costs from some mobile phones to an 0845 number are particularly high – up to 40p a minute. With some numbers they put a proper landline alternative and, of course, you can always look them up on the excellent saynoto0870.com.
Now many of HMRC’s lowest income customers use mobile phones rather than landlines. Not only that, but many of the helplines for benefits and jobs are also 0845 numbers.
Ofcom’s consultation document recognises the confusion faced by consumers about what different phone numbers mean and how much calls cost. The document acknowledges that the higher costs faced by mobile phone users fall particularly on people on lower incomes, who are more likely to live in mobile-only households.
Ofcom is proposing a simpler numbering system to make non-geographic numbers and their prices more intuitive, making 0800 numbers free from mobiles as well as landlines, and encouraging the use of 0345 (which is charged like the geographic 01/02 numbers and usually included in call bundles).
And about time too! What has taken them so long! Honestly, these numbers have been around for years and people on low incomes have been forced to use them for years. I do wish these things could be sorted out quicker than they are.
We’re certainly supporting this move at Moneymagpie and I look forward to a fairer system asap.