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BT making all 08.. numbers free? - Let's not make assumptions

According to some TV commercials in 2009 by BT, 0870 and 0845 numbers are going to be free if you switch to BT with your inclusive call time. Well, is this true?

The thing is, the words spoken in the adverts are literally true. If you switch to BT, and you have inclusive call time, or one of those special tariffs where all UK local and national calls are included, then it is true that specifically 0870 and 0845 calls are going to be free. However...

The spirit of the TV commercial is that you'll no longer have to pay for all those expensive numbers of the type that companies annoyingly put as their "call us" numbers which you then have to ring.

I believe this is misleading, because you are still charged for various types of expensive numbers including 0871. I was misled by this, and I was fooled into believing that all 08.. numbers would be free.

Of course, legally, British Telecom are not breaking the rules. They've not actually said that all 08.. numbers are going to be included. They've only said that 0870 and 0845 numbers are included, and left us to guess from the feelings expressed in the quality acting that at last there would be an end to having to pay for calling companies on their 08.. numbers. If we, the customers, make assumptions about what's being inferred, then that's our own pigeon, and our own fault when we get a phone bill for all the 0871 and 0844 calls we have made. Because...

0871 numbers are not free!.

It is very easy to misdirect people, as conjurers know. Sometimes it makes quite a good act, a stage-show, and leaves people quite mystified as to how the trick was done. Misdirection is a well-known technique in doing magic tricks, and it's supposed to be fun.

I am not suggesting BT have deliberately set out to mislead people. However it's a fact that I have been misled. I've watched those TV commercials, and my own conclusion was that the fellow was showing dismay at the prevalence of expensive 08 numbers, especially those which companies use, and that a solution was at hand in the form of British Telecom's new deal in which the practice would be nobbled.

Well, anyone can be caught out once. But not again. So, here's the truth about BT's offer to include some 08 numbers in the free inclusive calls...

0870 numbers are included.

0845 numbers are included.

All other 08.. costly numbers such as 0871 and 0844 are NOT included, and are not free.

It is still reasonable to assume that 0800 numbers and 0808 numbers are free (but only from a landline).

Beware, though, because even if you move to BT, you'll still be charged for calls to various other 08.. numbers except for 0870 and 0845.

My own opinion is that various types of non-geographical phone numbers should carry a minor health warning about the charges, much in the same way that premium rate numbers did. I also believe that honest companies trying to make their phone "local rate" should offer a geographical number as an alternative.

As I don't think it was a deliberate case of misleading advertising on the part of BT, I don't hold it against them, and I'm still happy to promote BT Shop as a place where you can buy a phone. However, I have written this page www.zyra.co.uk/0871.htm to help to inform folks out there about the truth of the BT phone charge situation.

There's a lot to be said about BT, both good and bad, and I have a page of the good and bad of BT. The company is often misunderstood, and sometimes some of the good things go underpublicised. Someone once wrote in and said "You explain BT better than BT!". If you'd like to check on this, you can read some of the things about the phone. Some of this stuff is very handy to know!