0870 calls included with BT call packagesBT cuts the cost of calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers

09 January 2009

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BT has become the first home phones service provider in the UK to include calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers in its calling packages.

The move means that a BT customer who is on BT’s Evening and Weekend home phone package will now get 0870 and 0845 calls included as part of their phone service, as well as normal UK landline phone calls, after 6pm every day and all weekend.

BT home phone customers must subscribe to a 12-month rolling home phone contract to benefit from free evening phone calls with BT.

BT Anytime 0870 deal

A BT Anytime home phone customer will get all their calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers included as part of the deal, which costs £4.85 a month for inclusive landline phone calls at all times of day.

What are 0845 and 0870?

0845 and 0870 numbers are non-geographic numbers that allow companies that use them to share the call revenue with the phone service provider.

Phone calls to 0845 and 0870 phone numbers cost more than calls to phone numbers that start 01, 02 or 03. 0870 numbers can cost up to 10p per minute with some providers, including Virgin Media.

Until now, 0845 and 0870 numbers were never included in 'free' or discounted minutes that were part of a phone deal.

What consumers think of 0870

In a recent Which? survey, Which? found that many people actively avoid calling 084 and 087 phone numbers:

  • Around half of you avoid calling 0870 phone numbers
  • 22% shun 0845 phone numbers

In BT’s press release on its changes to 0845 and 0870 charging, BT acknowledged customers resented the high charges for 0870 and 0845 phone numbers, especially as the organisations using them were seen to be making a profit from them.

Consumers see BT ring in changes

BT says that although the move will cost it tens of millions, the phone company has decided to give customers what they want by including 0870 and 0845 numbers in BT call packages.

John Petter, managing director of BT’s Consumer business, said: ‘We know that the public is frustrated by having to pay higher charges for these numbers, even though BT’s rates were cheaper than our rivals, so we worked out a way to go further and include calls to 0870 and 0845 numbers in our call packages.

‘These numbers are widely used by banks, utilities and even NHS Direct, and our customers spend 30 minutes a month on average calling these numbers. We hope we have taken a sting out of the price of these calls, but also removed one of those irritations that customers believed was an unfair anomaly.

‘All of our 14m calls customers have free calls included in their package and now all 14m have free calls to 0870 and 0845 at times that fit with their calling plan, which is something not offered by any of our competitors.’

Which? views of 0870

In its online advice guide on revenue sharing phone numbers, Which? says it thinks that all organisations should switch their customer service and support phone numbers from expensive 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871 and 09 phone numbers, and use 03, 0800 or 01/02 codes instead – or at least as an alternative phone number.

Which? telecoms expert Ceri Stanaway says: ‘We still think that organisations should not use expensive phone numbers for customer service and support, since despite BT’s move, many consumers will still be paying through the nose to call 084 and 087 phone numbers.

‘BT’s move is undoubtedly a bonus for many BT home phone customers – people who have inclusive evening and/or anytime calls will see the most benefit.

‘Bear in mind, though, that not all revenue sharing numbers are included – calls 0844 and 0871 numbers will still be charged for regardless of inclusive phone call packages.

‘And BT doesn’t mention any changes to its pricing for calls to 0870 numbers that aren’t part of a call package, so BT evening and weekend customers who are calling an 0870 number at peak times will still need to be wary and might want to use www.saynoto0870.com to seek out an alternative phone number.

‘However, BT’s inclusion of 0845 and 0870 numbers in call packages will mean savings for consumers who call these numbers a lot, and it will be interesting to see if other phone companies follow suit.’

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