Aren’t All 0845 Numbers Local?

20th May 2012

If there is a problem with 0845 numbers, it’s the confusion. Prior to 2004, the year of the Big Number Change in the UK, BT used 0845 numbers as a local number alternative, and they charged numbers with the 0845 prefix just as they would a local call. They even branded this product “Lo-call.” So here we are now, not even a decade removed from the change, and 0845 numbers are considerably different. It’s no wonder the average consumer is confused.

After the change, 0845 numbers were no longer assigned solely to BT. Instead, they were available throughout the telecommunications industry as a replacement for the old 0645 and 0345 numbers. One of the biggest problems after the change is that most home telephone plans did not include free access to 0845 numbers (because it hadn’t been necessary), and so people began receiving big charges on calls they simply assumed to be free.

The situation has calmed considerably since then, and most home plans now include the 0845s as part of their basic plan. Don’t make the assumption, however. Read the fine print on your contract, or call your telephone provider and ask. In many cases, if you don’t have free access to 0845s, the service will provide it free just by asking for it.

Once you have free access to the 0845s through your home, office or mobile service, you still cannot assume that rates are the same as local rates. In most cases, however, they are. Nevertheless, both the provider of the number and the owner of the number have the option of increasing the charge. If they chose to do so, then your bill will reflect those surcharges.

Why would they want to charge extra for 0845 numbers? Well, in most cases, they would not. Businesses used these numbers to make themselves accessible to their clients. Adding a charge only makes them less accessible. However, some companies use the 0845 prefix to charge for their services, such as a business that provides advice or even voice-based entertainment.