Three announces plans to reduce bill shock but unlimited data packages become a little more limited
Three customers on pay monthly plans will be able to make free calls to 0800 numbers and cheaper calls to other 08 numbers as the operator aims to reduce the estimated £600 million spent by UK mobile users each year on dialling such numbers, which are free to call from landlines.
Calls to numbers starting with 0800, 0808 and 0500 will be free to all customers signing up from today, while other numbers such as 084 and 087, will be 5p a minute. Existing customers can also sign up by swapping from their existing plan without paying a fee and keeping their existing contract expiry date.
Three says a YouGov survey found that 47 percent of UK mobile users had fallen victim to bill shock, and that a third of these were caused by 0800 or 0845 numbers. Ten percent of respondents said they had no idea that these numbers were not free to call from a mobile.
“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,” explains Three CEO Dave Dyson. “These charges are often buried in the small print and they’re expensive enough to make most customers fear calling them from their mobiles.”
Observers have welcomed the move and say that more should be done to eradicate such charges.
“Considering it costs nothing to call a 0800 number from a landline, charges for calling ‘freephone’ numbers from mobile phones should have been outlawed years ago,” adds Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch. “But until that happens, Three’s new price plans are most welcome, and should help keep monthly bills down. British mobile users do still face a long wait for Ofcom to scrap charges for 0800 numbers altogether – this is not expected to happen until June 2015.”
Three is also offering 4G to its users at no extra cost, while it has removed some roaming charges in 11 countries, including the USA. However the news that it is scrapping yet more charges is tempered by changes to its policy on tethering. New customers on unlimited data plans will only be able to use 2GB a month while using ‘personal hotspot’, and will have to purchase more data if they exceed this limit.
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