As more and more people use their mobile phones as their main phone, instead of landlines, it’s becoming more of a scandal that ‘freephone’ 0800 and 0808 numbers are usually not free on mobiles. Not only that, but users with contracts that have inclusive minutes (which is most people), will find that calls to freephone numbers aren’t included. My network, Three, charges me 15.3 pence per minute to call freephone numbers, and my allowance of 300 minutes per month won’t cover it. EE charges its customers 40p per minute.
The situation will, thankfully, change soon. Ofcom has mandated that calls to freephone numbers from mobiles must be free from late June 2015, but that’s not so useful if you need to call someone right now. So, instead, here are a few workarounds if you need to call a freephone number, and don’t have a landline phone that you can use.
1. Use Skype
If you have a smartphone with Skype installed, and have enabled SkypeOut which lets you call regular phone numbers, then you’ll be pleased to know that freephone numbers are completely free. You’ll also probably find that calls made through Skype to 0845 and 0870 numbers are also cheaper than on your mobile.
The downside is that you need to have access to a reasonable internet connection for this to work – 3G or Wifi is usually okay but you will struggle on anything slower. And this might not be a good option if you don’t have a very high data usage allowance.
2. Find the geographical equivalent
Freephone numbers like 0800 numbers, and the chargeable 0870 and 0845 numbers, all point to regular geographical numbers – ones starting with 01 or o2. So if you can find out that geographical number behind the 0800 number, you can call that instead, and make use of your inclusive minutes. SayNoTo0870.com is a rather dated web site that lists many of these numbers, and you can search both by company and by phone number.
3. Use a geographical call forwarding number
Instead of calling the freephone number directly, you can call a third party service using a geographical number, and then have your call forwarded. The call is billed as a geographical number and so will therefore be included in your call allowance. There’s a couple of services to try – 0800 Buster and 0800 Wizard. With 0800 Buster you can actually dial both numbers at once, by inserting a pause character between them, so you can save them to your contacts.
4. Use an app
The aforementioned 0800 Wizard service also has a series of smartphone apps – here’s a link to the iOS app, and it’s also on Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone. You open the app, dial the 0800 number as normal, and the app will automatically route it through a forwarding number as above.
I’m not aware of any privacy issues with using these services – although they forward your calls, I don’t think they’re able to somehow eavesdrop on your conversations.
Next year, none of this will be necessary, and freephone calls will actually be free for everyone. But in the meantime you can stop wasting money on calls that should be free.