Is it ok to use a 0845 number at the expense of your customers?

Telecoms /

If you’ve been to the doctors or a hospital lately, you may have noticed all the posters dotted around offering help or advice. From things like helping you quit smoking, lose weight or get help with an illness you may be suffering from, most of these posters have a phone number on them.

Whether you like it or not, when you work for a telecoms company you really start to pay attention to phone numbers that you see around. And last time I was at the doctors, there was one thing I noticed about the majority of the posters…

So what did I notice?

Nearly every poster I looked at had an 0845 number on it. Now I don't know about you, but I never like calling 0845 numbers, as I'm never quite sure just how much I'm going to be charged by my landline provider. Unlike 0844 and 0871 numbers, there's not a fixed rate and the cost can vary massively depending on your provider or tariff.

Officially, 0845 numbers are charged at a lo-call rate. But how much is that really? We've heard reports that some (but not all) BT tariffs allow you to call 0845 numbers for free. We've also heard that Virgin Media can charge up to 10p per minute. That's as much as an 0871 number, which are classed as Premium Rate!

What an outrage!

So that got me thinking - these help lines are supposed to be beneficial for the callers, so why not use a more customer friendly range? An 0800 number would allow landline caller's to call for free, whereas an 03 number would be charged at a landline rate.

Displaying these 0845 numbers could be putting people off from calling them, which defeats the whole purpose of displaying them in the first place.

Or is it...

But then I thought some more. The NHS doesn't make a lot of money, so they have to try and reclaim their costs anyway possible. That's likely why it costs so much to park at a hospital and most likely why they use an 0845 number for these helplines. Forwarding an 03 or 0800 number would incur a call forwarding cost. But forwarding an 0845 number to landline would cost them nothing.

And although 0845 numbers aren't the most customer friendly numbers they could use, their certainly not the worst. After all, they could be using 09 Premium Rate numbers.

Something to think about

When trying to decide on the best number for your business, there are many things to consider. How much do you want your customers to pay? How much are you willing to pay to receive calls? The type of business you are as well as the type of clientele you want can go a long way in helping you decide what number to go for.

Mark Burcher