Why it's time to hang up on so-called low-cost numbers
Fancy paying 15c a minute for a call because it's excluded from the allocated minutes you have with your mobile phone plan?
How about 6.61c a minute for calls from your landline, even though you're paying for a 'bundled' package that includes all local and national calls?
Well that's exactly what could happen if you call an 1890, 1850 or 0818 number. So how do these numbers work and why aren't they working for you?
1890 numbers, known as low-call numbers, were born in a time before bundled packages when you paid a smaller price for local calls than national ones and we didn't all use mobiles.
When a business gave you an 1890 number to call them it meant you would pay a flat local per-minute rate no matter where you were in the country.
With 1850 numbers you could call a business anywhere in the country for a flat all-in rate; you pay the same whether you're on the phone for 1 minute or half an hour.
The same rules still apply, but the problem is that we pay differently now. We have multiple phone providers, we can pay a fixed monthly charge for our landline and can call landlines in any county for that. And anyway lots of us have dumped the landline and now only use our mobiles.
But you'll find these numbers are not included in your landline package of unlimited calls to landlines, nor are they usually included in your inclusive mobile minutes.
Instead you pay extra; up to 30c for an 1850 call and typically 15c a minute for 1890 numbers from your mobile and 6.61c from your landline.
Many phone operators rarely include them in their packages because they're not geographic numbers, yet businesses keep asking us to use them.
You can see from a business marketing point of view that having one non-geographical number gives them the advantage of appearing national rather than regional, plus these numbers can be easy for us to remember. It may suit them, but what about the customers?
It gets worse when it comes to 0818 numbers, known as universal numbers. Unlike 1850 and 1890 numbers, where the costs are shared between the caller and the business, with 0818 numbers the business can charge above the regular rate.
Yes, you guessed it. They actually make money from your call. You'll pay from 5c a minute from your landline and up to 36c a minute from your mobile.
To avoid these costs you'll have to find a geographical number. If you can't find one this is where the website saynoto1890.com comes in.
Started in 2007, the website provides a list of geographic numbers for a host of businesses. If you know of one that isn't on the list, contact the website to share it with others.
So best to use these geographic numbers where you can to save yourself money. And if you're talking to a business like this tell them you want a geographic number. After all, surely they have our best interests at heart?
Useful websitewww. saynoto 1890.com