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Which? examines Virgin, BT and TalkTalk call costs

Virgin Media has highest non-inclusive call costs

A close-up of a telephone cord a man is using to make a call.

Home phone companies offer a range of tariffs and prices

Non-inclusive home phone call costs with providers such as Virgin Media and BT could run into hundreds of pounds a year, according to Which? research 

Home phone providers boast about their great value home phone offers, but Which? has found that non-inclusive calls (calls in the daytime, to mobiles, abroad or to 0845 and 0870 numbers, for example) can bump up your bill by hundreds of pounds a year. 

Virgin Media most expensive for non-inclusive calls

When Which? added up the annual cost of making a couple of 20-minute calls a month from the leading home phone providers to standard landlines, the US, mobiles and 0845/0870 numbers, it found call costs could bump up your annual bill by more than £250 with Virgin Media. It costs around £73 a year with TalkTalk, the cheapest.

TalkTalk includes calls to many countries, such as the USA, as part of inclusive minutes. If you don’t make overseas calls, Tesco’s home phone service might work out cheaper.

As of 1 April 2010, Virgin Media plans to include calls to mobiles in inclusive minutes. Good news if you’re a Virgin customer that makes lots of calls to mobiles, but this won’t shake its position as the most expensive for call costs overall.

Which? research into call costs

Which? based its annual costs on two 20-minute calls (one in the day, one in the evening) a month to a mobile, the US, a standard landline, plus one daytime call to 0845 and one evening call to 0870. Prices are correct as of 1 February 2010. Costs include call set up fees – typically 8-10p per call – but not line rental costs, and are based on providers’ cheapest standalone home phone deals that include line rental. 

The annual costs for the UK’s leading home phone provider, BT, worked out at around £151 for the same calls. Which? also looked at call costs for the Post Office Home Phone and Utility Warehouse, which both offer a standalone home phone service.  

Check the small print

Which? phone services expert Ceri Stanaway says: ‘Non-inclusive call costs are often hidden away in small print, so you might be forgiven for thinking that key cost differences between providers are down to monthly line rental charges.

‘But check what call costs aren’t included in your ‘free’ minutes – even if you only make a few non-standard calls each month, the cost can really rack up your bill with some providers.’

If you’re not happy with your home phone call costs, vote with your dialling finger. 

 Find out how to save money with a phone and broadband bundle in the Which? guide to phone, internet and TV packages. Discover easy ways to save on your home phone calls and find out which providers offer the best customer service in the Which? home phone services review.

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