Brits shell out over £0.5bn on 08 calls each year

Three responds by making all 0800 numbers free on its new pay monthly plans
0800, 0845 and 0870 calls cost UK mobile consumers £600 million a year
Bill shock affects nearly half (47%) of mobile phone users
Three’s new plans make calling 0800 free and 084 and 087 calls 5p per minute

Press release

March 18th 2014. New research – conducted by YouGov – has found that mobile phone users are in the dark when it comes to the cost of making calls to 0800 numbers from their mobile phone. Three quarters of people surveyed have no idea how much their operator charges them for an 0800 call and 10 per cent think these are free, as they would be from a landline. Research also highlights that calls to 0800, 0845 and 0870 numbers cost UK mobile consumers an estimated £600 million a year.

The research also found that 47 per cent of mobile phone users have experienced bill shock, with almost a third (31 per cent) of these users saying this was caused by out of bundle expensive calls such as 0800 or 0845 numbers.

From March 18th [2014], customers who sign up to Three‘s new plans can call 0800, 0808 and 0500 numbers for free, while all other 08 numbers, like 084 and 087, will cost 5p per minute.

These charges typically range from 14p to 40p. Existing customers can swap over from their existing plan without paying a fee and can keep their existing contract end date.

Dave Dyson, CEO at Three,  said, “We asked people what frustrated them most about their mobile bills and confusion around the cost of calling 08 numbers came out top by a big margin.”

“These charges are often buried in the small print and they’re expensive enough to make most customers fear calling them from their mobiles.”

“We want UK mobile users to get the most enjoyment from their smartphones or data device – the cost of calling 08 numbers is something we want to address for our customers.”

“UK mobile users are still afraid to use their devices in many circumstances.”

“That’s why we’ve made it possible for our customers to use their home allowance abroad in 11 countries, including the USA.”

“It’s why we’ve launched 4G at no extra cost and why we’ve committed not to raise our monthly recurring charges during the minimum period of a contract. ”

Under the new plans, customers will also be able to set limits to stop them going over their minutes allowance and limit spending on expensive numbers.

They will also receive text alerts to help them understand when they are close to using up their voice and data allowances.

To celebrate that 0800 numbers are now free, Three is launching a selection of fun and pointless 0800 numbers on March 17th for people to call and enjoy, including a Singing Dictionary line, a compliments line and a 24 hours lullaby line.



All figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2018 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th – 13th February 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Cost to UK consumers

Research conducted by YouGov, the figure is based on the following calculation: -

Average amount of calls to 0800, 0845 or 0870 numbers per month: 2.28

Average call cost per min of calling 0845, 0870 numbers from mobiles: 22p

Average call length (10 minutes) x Call cost per min (22p) = £2.20 average cost

Average calls per month (2.28) x 12 months = 27.36 calls per year

Cost to one consumer per year – £2.20 x 27.36 = £60.19

Current UK adult population that owns a mobile (94 per cent – based on Ofcom) = 42.2million

Percent of people who dial 0800, 0845 or 0870 numbers from their mobile phone = 23.64 per cent = 9.98 million

£60.19 x 9.98 million = £600.7 million

Cost to UK mobile users per year = over £600 million

0800 and 08 calls

All 0800, 0808 and 0500 calls are free for customers on our new plans, while other 08 numbers (like 084 and 087) will cost 5ppm. 0800, 0808 and 0500 calls sit outside of a customers’ voice minutes allowance, so they can make as many calls as they like to these numbers.

Spending controls and alerts

Customers can opt to block spending on calls outside of their allowance and/or spending on chargeable events that sit outside of their allowance – like chargeable calls and texts and competition lines.

These blocks can be changed up to 8-times per month through My3 – Three’s online account management system. Customers can make further changes by contacting the Contact Centre.

Customers will receive alerts when they have used by 80 per cent and 100 per cent of their data allowance and when they have 20 voice minutes remaining in their allowance. These alerts will also prompt customers to manage their usage or purchase additional voice minutes or data.


Customers will be given the option to buy more data or voice minutes during the lifetime of their contract.

Customers can buy additional data to take them to the end of their billing month or on a longer-term basis.

Customers can also buy additional voice minutes.

Customers can remove these additional voice minutes and data when they want but cannot go below their contracted allowance. For example, if a customer signs a 24 month contract with 1GB of data and 600 minutes, they can buy additional minutes or data but cannot go below this baseline.

The available add-ons and their costs are set out below: -

Data Voice
Short Term Long Term Long Term
250MB= £2.50 Next data tier = £3 Next Min Tier = £3
Next data tier = £5 500MB > 1GB 50mins > 100mins
500MB > 1GB 1GB > 2GB 100mins > 300mins
1GB > 2GB 2GB > AYCE 300mins > 600mins
2GB > AYCE 600mins > AYCE

Personal Hotspot

All data allowances will allow customers to use Personal Hotspot. With 500MB, 1GB and 2GB data allowance, the entire allowance is available for Personal Hotspot use.

With all-you-can-eat data, a maximum of 2GB can be used for Personal Hotspot.

If AYCE data customers want to use more data when their allowance has run out they can choose to buy a 1G Personal Hotspot.

Customers will receive an alert when they hit 80 per cent and 100 per cent of their 2GB Personal Hotspot allowance within AYCE.

About Three

Three is a communications company focused on bringing the benefits of the internet to mobile.  It offers attractive pricing, all-you-can eat data packages, market-leading devices and a network built for data. Combined, this gives 3′s customers the widest choice of ways to stay connected to the mobile internet. 3′s high speed, DC-HSDPA network already covers 80 per cent of the UK population and the company will be adding LTE 4G services to the network later this year. HSPA+ technology, covers 98 per cent of the UK population. 3 will add 4G to its network from December 2013, with 50 cities covered by the end of 2014 and 98 per cent of the population covered by 4G by the end of 2015. Today, 3 has over 13,400 sites in our network and plan to add another 5,000 by 2015 to bring improved mobile internet capacity to more people in more places than ever. Three UK is a member of the HWL group of companies, with investments in mobile operations in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Macau, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Vietnam. Find out how Three intelligently manages data traffic on its  network here. More information on Three’s new Pay-As-You-Go tariff here.

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