A price comparison site has revealed that mobile phone service providers in the UK have increased access charges of call made to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 or 118 by as much as 80 per cent.
The increase in charges were imposed soon after Ofcom asked mobile phone companies to provide better transparency by segregating the call charges into an access charge that goes to the mobile phone company and the service charge that is decided by the organisation that the consumer is calling.
USwitch.com found out that mobile phone providers including Vodafone, O2 and Three have increased access charges of such calls. While Vodafone and O2 have already increased the rates as early as August, Three is set to increase the access charges by a whopping 80 per cent from November 3. This means that the access charge will jump from 25p to 45p and putting in a real-world example, if you call the Strictly Come Dancing vote line on November 3 or after that, the call will cost you 60p per minute, instead of 40p.
While the hike in access charges are not in violation of any of the Ofcom’s rules, the new system from Ofcom that seeks to increase transparency of charges to such numbers relies on people being vigilant and keeping tabs on what they will be charged. This means that customers need to be aware of the update to access charges imposed by mobile phone providers and look for alternatives or opt for a plan that fits their needs.
“Phone providers are now offering a range of pricing options for these numbers, including per-minute access charges as low as 1p per minute”, Ofcom spokesperson said. “Ofcom actively encourages organisations to use 03 numbers, which we set up to cost no more than a normal 01 or 02 number. They must also be included in a customer’s inclusive minutes and discount schemes in the same way.”