SSE ditch free number - how to ring them, or anyone, for free

5 February 2016

sseSSE may have dropped their prices, but they'll be trying claw money back in other ways, like scrapping the free phone number customers can call them on.

The energy company have stopped using the 0800 number, and instead, fired up the 0345 numbers, which will cost you (up to) 9p a minute from a line land, or 40p from your mobile.

Now, you may remember that the rules around 0800 numbers changed recently. The short version is that Ofcom said that 0800 numbers had to be properly free, with no hidden costs. This change has seen a number of companies having to be straight-up about any charges that crop up when you ring them.

SSE are throwing the blame at Ofcom, even though they could actually run a free phone service if they wanted to. The energy company said that this was adding a "a significant cost". They also assume that most people have inclusive phone minutes packages, so it should be free in the long run (tough cheese if you don't).

Of course, if you want to ring a company for free (any company for that matter), there are ways around it. You could try the WeQ4U app for starters.

The app says: "WeQ4U is a FREE Android/iPhone App and Service that puts you through to UK 01,02,03 and 08 numbers for FREE, without queueing. Mobile users save approx. 35p per minute on their 084 and 087 calls with WeQ4U, whether they encounter a queue or not, so it saves you money and time."

Give it a whirl. Don't give misers your money.

TOPICS:   Banking   Utilities   How To Guides

10 comments

  • Raggedy
    As with most big companies having to deal with the public, it just wouldn't be worth their while if they weren't ripping us off in some manner, or at least attempting to. Allegedly...
  • squiffy
    03 numbers are included in any bundles you may have, cost the same as 01, 02 numbers.
  • R B.
    0345 are charged at same rate as 01 numbers and are not likely to cost anyone anything. They are included in mobile minutes and are pretty cheap anyway ( think 1p per minute ). This article is a load of hogwash.
  • Ian
    Calls to 03 numbers are inclusive from landlines and from mobiles, else charged at 'geographic rate' - the same as calls to 01 and 02 numbers. This Ofcom rule has been in place since 2007. Most people have an inclusive call plan for calling 01, 02 and 03 numbers. This means they pay nothing for each individual call. For these people, the SSE number change will have little or no impact. The vast majority of calls to 01, 02 or 03 numbers are made as part of an inclusive call plan. This could be an Anytime calls package on a landline. On a mobile this could be a 12-month or longer contract with a handset, a one-month 'SIM only' rolling contract or an 'add-on' or 'bundle' on pay-as-you-go. Very few people pay a 'per-minute' rate for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers. Those that still do are probably on the wrong call plan for their needs. It does cost companies more to run an 0800 or 0808 number than an 03 number. This is because with an 080 number the called party has to pay an additional Call Origination Fee to the caller's telephone provider to compensate them for the fact that the caller paid nothing at all for the call. In the case of incoming calls from mobile phones, this fee can be up to about 5p per minute. Using an 080 number is an unnecessary extra business expense when most people can already call 03 numbers at no extra cost per call. Anyone who makes more than about 50 minutes of calls per month from their landline or more than about 15 minutes of calls per month from their mobile to 01, 02 and 03 numbers will find that a deal with an allowance of inclusive calls will usually work out cheaper From April 2016 a new national number for reporting power cuts and blackouts comes into service. The number is 105 and will be a free call from landlines and from mobiles. This ensure that calls that essential calls where safety is a factor are completely free for all callers. The weQ4U app does not make calls free. The app calls their central 03 access number. If you have an inclusive calls allowance there will be no charge for the call. If you do not have an inclusive allowance then using the app will cost up to 12p per minute from landlines or up to 45p per minute from mobiles. If you're calling an 084 or 087 number, weQ4U attempts to find an alternative 01, 02, 03 or 080 number which their system then onwards dials. This avoids the caller paying 084 or 087 rates for the call. Most government departments, public services, health services, retailers, traders, passenger transport companies, banks and insurance companies now use 01, 02, 03 or 080 numbers, so there's generally little or no need to go looking for alternative numbers or to use an app. If you're calling an 01, 02 or 03 number, there's no inherent saving to be had by using weQ4U. The app calls an 03 number and this will cost exactly the same as the number you were going to call. The saving, if there is any to be had, comes from the smart feature where the call is suspended on your phone and the weQ4U system alerts you when the other end answers the call. This is only really useful if your inclusive calls allowance is relatively small or you're still paying a per-minute rate for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers. If you use weQ4U to call 080 numbers you will be using your inclusive allowance or otherwise paying for the call to the weQ4U 03 access number. If you had instead dialled the 080 number directly without using the app, the call would be completely free.
  • Father J.
    SAYNOTO0870 is a fine site for occasions such as this.
  • Ian
    Father Jack said: "SAYNOTO0870 is a fine site for occasions such as this." No it isn't. That site is for looking up alternative numbers when a company presents only premium rate 084 or 087 numbers on their official website. In many cases SAYNOTO0870 will divulge a cheaper number. On this occasion, the company is already using an 'inclusive' or 'geographic rate' (depending on the caller's call plan) 03 number. No alternative number is needed. The call to the 03 number will be inclusive for most people. Those who pay an extortionate per-minute rate for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers are on the wrong call plan for their needs.
  • Father J.
    "The call to the 03 number will be inclusive for most people" "depending on the caller’s call plan" That's a lot of ifs and buts Ian. You can find geographic alternatives to 03 numbers on that website, which will be of use to those who are not on one of the call plans you describe.
  • Tommy J.
    Yes 03 numbers will be in a mobile allowance Yes weQ4U will do the same thing But weQ4U saves waiting and waiting which is may more valuable
  • Ian
    Father Jack said: "You can find geographic alternatives to 03 numbers on that website, which will be of use to those who are not on one of the call plans you describe." Any geographic 01 or 02 number that you find will cost exactly the same as calling the 03 number. This applies on all tariffs from all landline and mobile providers. Anyone who has inclusive calls to 01 and 02 numbers will also have inclusive calls to 03 numbers. This Ofcom rule has been in place since 2007. All landline and mobile providers comply with this rule. Anyone who does not have inclusive calls to 03 numbers won't have inclusive calls to 01 and 02 numbers either. These callers will be paying a per-minute rate for their calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers and the cost of calling 03 numbers will be no more than the cost of calling 01 and 02 numbers. To charge more for calls to 03 numbers than for calls to 01 and 02 numbers would be in breach of Ofcom regulations. Depending on your provider, the cost of calling 01, 02 and 03 numbers on a deal without an inclusive allowance can range from 2p to 12p per minute for calls made from landlines or from 3p to 45p per minute for calls made from mobiles. Anyone who is paying a high per-minute rate for their calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers is likely on the wrong call plan for their needs.
  • Father J.
    Thanks for the clarification. Tell me, Ian, what is it you do for fun?

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