Last month I had to call Virgin Media on my mobile because my land line wasn’t working. After a lengthy series of automated menu selections I got put through to an operator (who sounded like they were from India, both my the accent and the quality of the line). All in all the call took around 18 minutes (most of which I was on hold for), but I was satisfied with the results as my land line is now working. Satisfied that is, until I got my mobile phone bill and found that making the ‘0870’ call to customer services had cost me £6.00!
Putting the helplines and customer service departments on these ‘non-geographic numbers is a growing practice and costs mobile users hundreds of pounds a year, as Martin Lewis the wonderful Money Saving Expert, explains on his website here. He says:
Dialling a number which starts 0870, 0845, 0871 and 0844 should ring alarm bells. They can cost up to 41p/min – far more than a call to a normal 01, 02 or 03 number.
But there are ways to get around the system. In the article linked Martin suggests the Say No to 0870 website, which has a database of national land line alternatives to the costly non-geographic numbers. You’ll probably have to go though a receptionist, who might sound grumpy and not be all glossy and rehearsed, but the added bonus is you won’t have to sit through menu after menu of recorded options.
If you’re using a smartphone the WeQ4u app is brilliant. It’s free on iOS and Android and when you use it to call an 08 number (which would be hiked in price from your mobile) it routes the call through their own land line so you just pay the standard national call rate to your service provider. What’s even better is if you get stuck in a queue to speak to an agent you just hit *9 and the app will sit in the queue for you, dialling you back when you’re call is picked up. This saves you time as well as not eating up your standard rate minutes listening to tinny renditions of rubbish pop music.