Beware of 08 telephone numbers

I have just completed a year of discussions with my broadband supplier and I can happily report it now works! That story is for another time as I want it to settle down before sharing it.

What I would like to share is the use of 08 numbers. Many people will be think huh? 08 numbers should be approached with extreme caution as the costs may not be quite what you might be expecting. Equally important is if you choose to have a number starting with 08 for your business you are probably annoying a large segment of your potential customers. You may think you are making it easy for your customers, but you are actually creating a barrier.

Over the last 20 years or so a lot has changed in the world of telephone numbers and I suspect most of us have been blissfully ignorant of what it all means. I surely do not know all the ins and outs but I do know that it is very much ‘caller beware’.Normal landlines start with 01 or 02 and they are included in your ‘free minutes’ on your mobile and various other inclusive services. 07 numbers are mobiles and are included on your mobile but not from your landline. Call a 07 number from your landline and watch your bank balance go down.

Then come the mystery numbers. They start with 08 or 09 and there are lots of variations. If you want to know the detail, please contact me, but let’s not make this too boring. What I can tell you is that calling a 08 number from your mobile will set you back a lot of money. Calling it from your landline is a gamble – it may cost you nothing, a little or a small fortune.So let us say need to call your energy supplier. Chances are you will be asked to call a number starting with 08. Make the call from you mobile and you will spend spend a fortune. As your energy supplier asks you to go down 6 menus, puts you to the wrong department and goes through several levels of identity verification (half the globe now knows my mother’s maiden name) your bank balance is disappearing. No refunds on this one!

My bank called me the other day. I had to call a 0845 number (which happens to be free from BT landlines, but not from all landline providers), give my personal details to some person who  could be on the moon and talk about my personal finances with Mr Annonymous. When I asked him to provide me with some proof that he did indeed represent my bank and for his surname he rather rudely told me that he was not obliged to do so. I decided to end the conversation and to part as friends while we could and I have no idea what the bank wanted. I did write a letter back to the author of the letter I received and have heard nothing since. I do not like talking  about my financial affairs with an anonymous person on an anonymous number in an annonymous location and personally I think the FSA should not allow banks to do this. So in running your business perhaps you need to decide how encourage communications with your customers. Do you want to appear approachable and contactable? A 08 number does not do this. Adding names, pictures, email addresses, direct telephone numbers starting with 01 or 02 will make your company appear much more human. 07 numbers give the impression you are operating from your car and of course are expensive to call from landlines.

Just so you know, 01 and 02 numbers do not really tell anyone where you are – they are just the cheapest to call. Enterprise Britain is contactable on a 0207 number, but, please do not tell anybody, but it never actually rings in London! If you want to have a chat about using telephones in the 21st century, give me a call – the contact details are shown on the right – telephone, Skype and email is the best I can offer at the moment.

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