Cordless phones: Cheap alternatives to 0870 and 0845 calls Say no to 0870 and 0845
Don't pay more than you must to make a phone call. From alternative numbers to call-override services, we explain the tactics you can use to make cheaper phone calls.
Switch your home phone or mobile provider
Charges to call non-standard phone numbers vary by phone operator. For example, while some providers charge a premium to call 0845 and 0870, with other providers it will cost no more than calling your neighbour's house.
If you call non-standard phone numbers a lot, Which? has found that switching your phone provider could cut your phone bill by more than £100 a year.
Check for an alternative cheaper phone number
Some numbers – such as 0844 or 0871 – are typically expensive to call, regardless of your phone operator. And they're never covered by any 'inclusive' calls or minutes you have as part of your mobile or landline deal. But Which? has a number of tricks you can use to keep the cost of calling down .
Use a company's 'calling from overseas' number
Check whether the organisation you want to call has a 'calling from overseas' number (look out for a number that starts +44).
Calling from overseas numbers are likely to be standard 01 or 02 numbers rather than revenue-sharing numbers. Just replace the +44 with a '0' to call the number from within the UK.
Call the company's sales line
Companies often use cheaper – or even freephone – numbers for their sales lines to encourage prospective customers to call. If this is the case, try calling the cheaper department and ask to be transferred.
Call head office
If the company has a geographic number for its head office, try ringing that and ask to be put through to customer services.
The website 'saynoto0870.com' lets you look up the company you want to call or the 'official' 084 or 087 contact phone number it provides. It then lists alternative, cheaper or freephone numbers for the company.
Use a call-override provider
If you can't find an alternative phone number, all is not lost. It may be cheaper to call an 084 or 087 phone number using a call-override phone call service, such as 18185.co.uk. You can use these services from mobiles or landlines.
Override providers let you add a prefix number to get a cheaper rate for calling revenue-sharing numbers than you might pay normally. 18185.co.uk charges 3p per minute to call 0870 numbers at peak times, for example.
Find out how to use call-override providers and check how they measure up against traditional phone operators such as BT in our latest Which? home phones satisfaction survey.
Try email or online customer support
It seems obvious, but if you have internet access, consider sending an email or using a company's online help instead.
Premium rate call-barring
You can stop premium rate phone services being used on your mobile or home phone by asking your phone service provider to block 09 numbers.
How to dispute unfair phone call charges
Get your money back
If you have to call an expensive phone number to make a complaint – maybe a product or service has a fault or the company concerned hasn't fulfilled its side of a contract – ask the company to refund the cost of any calls you've made.
Contact your phone service provider too and ask it to suspend the disputed part of your bill until you can sort out the problem.
Problems with 0844, 0845 or 0870 numbers
Phone watchdog Ofcom can give advice on problems with calls to 084 or 0870 numbers. It does not take action to resolve individual consumer complaints, but it may investigate a company if it gets enough complaints. Call 0300 123 3000 or go to the Ofcom website and fill in an online form.
Premium rate phone number problems
PhonePayPlus is the regulator for premium rate services and covers 0871 and 09 numbers. It is also the watchdog for premium rate text messages. PhonePayPlus handles complaints about the lack of call-cost information, misleading claims, offensive content and prolonged calls.
Call 0800 500212 or write to Freepost WC5468, London SE1 2BR, or use the PhonePayPlus online complaint form.
Phone billing problems
If you think your phone service provider has charged you in error, complain to it. If it won't help, contact Otelo or Cisas. All phone companies must belong to one of these two alternative dispute resolution schemes – although third-party retailers of phone services and handsets aren't covered.
You can only contact Otelo or Cisas if you've had no success with a formal complaint to your phone company and eight weeks have passed, or if the phone company has said it won't do anything else.
Which? Legal Service may also be able to offer advice on problems with your phone company. Get all the consumer legal advice you need over the phone for less than £6 a month.