Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The stupidity of 0300

BBC radio often features a telephone number to respond to programmes or ask questions. Now, give them their due, they do have their social responsibility 'action line' 0800 044 044 which is free to call. But the main number they now use is an 0300 number. These are apparently public sector numbers which charge the same as a nationwide call - a call to an ordinary 01 or 02 number.

Now this is all very well, but increasingly people have phone packages with inclusive calls to 01 and 02 numbers. Such calls are absolutely free. Similarly, Skype users can have a package with free calls to all standard numbers. But calls to these 0300 numbers (and similarly to numbers beginning 0845, which charge a local rate) are not free on these inclusive calls. So just at the time many people are getting free calls, by using these 0300 and 0845 numbers, companies are ensuring that we still have to pay. Clever stuff, eh?

(Enthusiasts for BT ads will have noticed the telecom giant has recently made calls to 0845 numbers free - but I bet they still charge for 0300.)

Hot News - it seems from correspondence since posting this (see discussion in the comments) that 0300 numbers are free on Skype inclusive packages, and free on landline packages where calls to 01 and 02 numbers are free. On mobile phones and other packages with 'inclusive minutes', they are counted as inclusive minutes. So hurrah for 0300 numbers after all - but those using them could make this a bit clearer, as they usually say 'which are charged as a national call' or something similar.


  1. Dear Brian,

    After seeing your blog, I felt that I should clear some of the mist surrounding the recently introduced 0300 number.

    The 0300 number that public sector companies and charities are switching too, are being provided so that call costs are completely transparent to the caller.

    The 0300 numbers are included in all major network operators inclusive minute packages this also includes mobile phone operators (according to Ofcom, 40% of calls are made from mobile phones nowadays).

    The 0300 number, allocated to public sector companies and charities by Ofcom, also does not allow revenue sharing, therefore the BBC is not gaining any revenue share from the calls made to them so there would be no benefit to them to 'ensure that the caller still has to pay'.

    I hope I have successfully cleared up some of the confusion surrounding the 0300 number.

    Best regards,

    Nicola Poole

  2. Thank you Nicola - that certainly provides extra information.

    What it doesn't do, however, is help the person who gets free calls to 01 and 02 numbers but has to pay to call an 0300 number. At the very least, people with 0300 numbers should ALSO publish/broadcast an 01/02 number for people who don't want to pay for unnecessarily for the call.

    I didn't meant to imply that the BBC wants people to pay for calls, but that it is, consciously or unconsciously, forcing people to pay for calls who could make them for free to an 01 or 02 number.

    I take your point about mobiles, but that still leaves 60% of people not using mobiles - we need to be thought about too!

  3. Crikey. They'll be charging for smoke signals next. Memo to self - invest in a pigeon loft.

  4. This is an automated message.


  5. Hi Brian,

    I think you may have misunderstood.

    Calls from landlines to 0300 are also included in inclusive minutes, just like 01/02 numbers.

    So these numbers really do offer the best deal to both the company using it and the caller.

    Best wishes,


  6. Nicola - if that's true, it's great. I was confused by the term 'inclusive minutes' which generally refers to a specific package of minutes (e.g. 500 minutes of calls free) where I'm referring to landline and Skype packages that say 'calls to all 01 and 02 numbers free, but this excludes non-geographic numbers.'

    These packages generally include 0800 numbers as free, but don't include 0844, 0845, 0870 or 0871 numbers.

    I checked Skype's website and can't find any reference to 0300 numbers being free on their 'unlimited country' package, so I assumed 0300 numbers would be treated like 0870 numbers, rather than like 0800 numbers.

  7. Hi Brian,

    I've just found this forum in the Skype website - it seems that they are currently updating their pages but 0300 numbers are free, which is superb news.


    I hope this also brings clarity to many other people who are not fully informed of the newly allocated 0300 number as they really are the best (and cheapest) way forward for companies and callers allowing inclusive calls while still giving the callers the inbound call solutions that they have come to expect.

    If you have any other queries with any telecom based issues please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Best wishes,


  8. Thanks, Nicola - that's very helpful (and excellent news).

    I will modify the original post to make sure people read the correspondence.

    Just for clarity - I'm guessing you work for Ofcom or a telecom company - would you care to tell us who?

  9. Thank you for calling the Psychiatry Institute hotline. Please listen to the following options.

    If you are calling about obsessive-compulsive disorder, please press '1', repeatedly.

    If you suffer from multiple personality disorder, please press '2', '3' and '4'.

    If your call is about schizophrenia, a little voice will tell you which key to press.

    If you are having paranoid delusions, don't worry - we know who you are, and why you're calling.

    If you are suffering from depression, please hang up. Nobody cares about you. You'll just have to live through it.

    Otherwise please stay on the line and an operator will assist you.

    Thank you.

  10. Good report by you Brian ... and no need to guess where Nicola comes from :wink:

    I knew NOTHING about 0300 numbers til today and ALWAYS mistrust new number classifications until I know the truth.

    Just about to use the 0300 number via Skype to contact DVLC so if I don't write more later, you can safely say it's free.

    If I was a betting man ... I'd bet I'll be writing back.


  11. A quick update emailed to me by a OneTel customer:

    "The information given to me a few days ago (March 2010) by OneTel - now part of Talk Talk - is that 0300 and 0844 are not included in packages.

    "This wipes out any advantages when Telecoms offer included 0854/0870 calls, as they are being replaced by 0300/0844.

    "Years ago, OFCOM told me that revenue sharing would be phased out, with numbers like 0300 - but we seem to be back to square one with this now."

    So it looks like Nicola's first comment that 0300 numbers are included in all major network operators' inclusive minutes packages is being eroded.

  12. Hi Brian,

    Have you been onto the OneTel site to verify this information?

    I have and have found the following very useful information which still backs up my original comment.

    "Our daytime/peak calling hours are changing from 6am – 6pm to 7am – 7pm. So if you’re on an evening and weekend plan (not an ‘anytime’ one), your inclusive weekday evening calls (e.g. to 01, 02 and 03 numbers) will run from 7pm – 7am. The weekend calling hours (midnight Friday to midnight Sunday) remain unchanged.

    The cost of an 01, 02, 03, 0870 and 0845 daytime/peak rate call (and calls that exceed 60 minutes at any time) is changing from 4.6p per minute to 5.8p per minute. The evening rate for these calls is changing from 1.4p per minute to 1.5p per minute. Please remember, this change doesn’t affect any inclusive calls (e.g. to 01, 02, 03 numbers, of 60 minutes or less) that are included in your package.

    Chargeable calls that currently incur a 9.25p call connection charge will instead incur one of 9.9p. Again, this change doesn’t affect any inclusive calls (e.g. to 01, 02, 03 numbers, of 60 minutes or less) that are included in your package."

    (Source http://www.onetel.co.uk/index.php?node=landline-changes)

    All the best,


  13. No Nicola, I was merely relaying a comment from a reader who for some reason emailed it to me rather than posting it here.

    As I have no knowledge of OneTel, I don't really want to be drawn into it, but I have asked my informant if he could clarify the position and post a comment with the details.

    It is, of course, entirely possible for OneTel to put one thing on their website and tell someone something else in an email. If this is the case, either of them could be wrong.

  14. I've just spoken to BT who tell me that they won't include 0300, 0871 0r 0844, but will include 0845 and 0870 - which seem set to be phased out anyway and be replaced by the former numbers.

    The Talk Talk website does indeed say that 03 numbers are included in the more expensive of the two package they offer - but only if we have line rental with them as well.

    Mine is still with BT - who have treated me appallingly, creating an artificial 'debit' situation even on a fixed monthly payment!

    I've also just spoken to OneTel who have once again confirmed that their 'brand' is still in separate from their Talk Talk owners but they refer new business to them, and will only include 0845/0870 if we transfer line rental to them, but nothing else.

    This explains why, when we go to the OneTel website, and look for product details, we're referred to Talk Talk products - which is where the confusion arises.

    I hope that clarifies it as far as that's possible!


  15. So Nicola, has Tony got this wrong, or was your defence of OneTel a little premature?

  16. Hi Brian,

    I thought it would be prudent for me to clarify. My name is David Bennett and I represent Windsor Telecom, one of the most progressive providers of the new 03prefixed numbers.
    I have to tell you that Nicola is totally correct. Calls to 03 prefixed numbers MUST be included in all inclusive or bundled minute packages, from landlines as well as mobiles. This makes them the most cost effective type of number to call. Consider that according to OFCOM, by the end of this year, 50% of all calls will be made from mobile phones. As over 90% of mobile users do not exceed their inclusive minutes, that means that nearly half of the calls to 03 numbers are effectively free.
    This is why you can give blood now by calling 0300 123 2323, you can renew your car tax by calling 0300 1234 321, you could even call the Met Police on 0300 123 1212. These numbers will eventually become commonplace. Hope that clarifies the situation.

  17. Thanks, David.

    Assuming what you say is true, it seems as if the companies that Tony was dealing with (see above: BT/TalkTalk/OneTel) aren't giving out the right information and may be charging incorrectly for these calls. Perhaps you should talk to them.

  18. I hear from my indian cus serv, that 0300 might be charged it depended if the hub? was in the isle of man or not ., he sugested that most where and the only way to find out was to fekin ring them and ask !! you could'nt make it up!!

  19. This post talks only about 0300 numbers.

    Be aware that several other ranges of numbers beginning 030x, 033x, 034x and 037x are also now in use.

    All of these 03 numbers are always charged at the same rate as 01 and 02 numbers and all are usuable within inclusive call packages from all landline and mobile providers.

    When the Consumer Rights Directive passes into law in the UK in mid/late-2013 it will be a requirement that businesses using 084 and 087 numbers for customer service and complaints change their number either to the matching 034 or 037 number, or to a new 01, 02, 030 or 033 number so that callers pay "no more than the basic rate".

  20. Users of 084, 087 and 09 numbers will in future have to declare the included revenue share premium, or "service charge", under plans for "unbundled tariffs" detailed by Ofcom earlier today.

    Simplification will also see phone companies apply and declare a single access charge for all 084, 087 and 09 numbers (especially replacing the current variable access charges levied by mobile operators).

    Additionally, calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers will become free from mobiles as well as from landlines, perhaps sometime in late 2014.

    Calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers will no longer be inclusive in landline call plans (as they will be charged the same way as 0844 and 0871 revenue share numbers), however many users of 0845 and 0870 numbers will be compelled to move to 0345 and 0370 numbers when the Consumer Rights Directive comes into force in early 2014.

    03 numbers will be the only non-geographic range charged at geographic rates and usable entirely within inclusive packages.

  21. Skype gives the nice online chat and giving clarity video calls and it can record audio and video record calling also.So it is the best software specially for companies. visit- Skype Support Call Toll Free No +1-800-231-4635 .