Every day, people use service numbers to make phone calls to companies and organisations, contact directory enquiries or even to vote in TV shows.
But the cost of calling these numbers – which start 08, 09 or 118 – used to be difficult to find out.
This changed in July 2015, under a system that makes the cost of calling service numbers clear for everyone. It’s called UK Calling, and it’s the biggest change to telephone calls in over a decade.
How it worked before
You may remember seeing information about the cost of calls in the past looking something like this:
“Calls cost 20p per minute from a BT landline. Other landlines may vary and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more.”
This makes it hard to know the cost unless you happen to be calling from a BT landline.
How it works now
Since 1 July 2015, the cost of calling service numbers is now made up of two parts:
An access charge: This part of the call charge goes to your phone company, charged as pence per minute. They will tell you how much the access charge will be for calls to service numbers. It will be made clear on bills and when you take out a contract.
A service charge: This is the rest of the call charge. The organisation you are calling decides this and will tell you how much it is.
Let’s take an example.
Say your particular phone company charges you 5p per minute for calls to service numbers – that is their access charge. And let’s say the service charge for a particular number you want to call is 20p per minute. In that case, you would see information like this:
“Calls cost 20p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.”
In this particular example, the call would cost 20p per minute (the service charge), plus 5p per minute (the access charge). So the call would cost you 25p per minute.
Which numbers are affected
These rules apply to all consumer calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers across the UK, delivering clearer call rates for everyone.
The rules do not affect calls made to ordinary landline numbers (01, 02), 03 numbers or mobile (07) numbers. Neither do they affect calls made from payphones, international calls, or calls to the UK when roaming overseas.
In addition, all Freephone numbers (which begin 0800 or 0808) are now free for consumers to call from all phones, whether mobile or landline.
You can find out the minimum and maximum charges for a number by using Ofcom’s call cost guide .