Avoiding Premium Rate phone Numbers


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Hello everyone! So this week I had one of those worst winter afflictions – I had hot water in the flat but attempting to turn on my radiators on a particularly cold day and….nothing. I pulled up the number for my boiler services to company only to see the dreaded “this call is charged at premium rate” note.

I’ve always thought forcing customers using premium rate lines was really bad customer service. Ok, it can be a bit of a money spinner for the company that runs it, but it annoys the customer immensely when they have to use it and if you end up being forced to hang on the line, it really makes you angry as you count the minutes (and your bill).

So annoyed at this potential unexpected charge, it sent me down a research rabbit hole and I discovered a few excellent services to avoid the charges!

How do I spot a premium rate phone number?

You should consider yourself warned if a phone number begins with “087” – this is a sign that the number concerned is premium rate. There are a couple of other exceptions like 118, which are usually exorbitantly expensive directory enquiries services.

A premium rate consists of two charges. One is your normal phone connection fee – but another is an additional service charge making up most of the cost which usually goes back to the company you’re calling. They simply do it to make money – it can add up if you’re making 10p a minute from a large group of customers.

Some companies will confusingly list an 0870 number but say something akin to “we do not make any revenue from this number”. If you see this be warned you’ll still be charged – what this often means is that the firm is getting some kind of benefit in kind, such as the telephony software being provided to them and the provider taking the premium rate revenue instead of them.

A review of the WeQ4U app

WeQ4U was probably my best discovery during my search for avoiding premium rate phone numbers!

WEQ4U helps avoid a premium rate number.

In terms of saving you money, WEQ4U acts as a phone routing service where you input the premium rate number you want to call, then WEQ4U provides you with an cheaper “03” number to call instead. You call that, and WEQ4U “dials through” via an internet call to the premium number you would otherwise dial.

03 numbers are generally included in most mobile contracts these days (although you should check) – but even if it’s not, for most people a call to an 03 number which will still be cheaper than the premium rate.

WeQ4U can wait in a call queue for you.

The other advantage of WeQ4U is that even for non-premium rate numbers, you can arrange that if you get held in a queuing system, WEQ4U will automatically detect when the queue comes to an end and give you a call back at that point, rather than having to hang around awkwardly on the phone.

The call quality with WEQ4U is clear and excellent – I noticed no difference to a regular call.

Is the WeQ4U service free?

The WEQ4U service is completely free as long as you’re using inclusive minutes for the 03 number as instructed by the WEQ4U app – otherwise you’ll pay whatever your provider charges for a call to an 03 number.

Given you’re calling a premium rate number for free, this obviously leads to the question of….

Is WeQ4U a scam?

No, absolutely not – going through their privacy policy they also don’t sell your phone contact details which was my other main worry when using the service.

I’ve used this multiple times myself and never had any additional charges or resulting unsolicited calls.

How does WeQ4U make money?

The company behind WEQ4U has a business where they provide telephone software/queuing systems for professional businesses, mainly marketed to call centres. The firm actually developed the WEQ4U service as side project out of that, and this service essentially acts as advertising to promote that core business.

So they don’t make money out of WeQ4U itself – it’s simply a loss leader to promote the company’s other services.

Happy child after avoiding a premium rate phone call!


SayNOto0870 is a long established website that rose to prominence after being recommended by Martin Lewis.

SayNOto0870 is essentially simply an online database – you can search for a company/number where you’re dialling 0870 and it will provide alternative numbers that will let you call the firm instead at a cheaper rate.

The website is not the most slick (this is a free service after all) but it does the job very effectively, and has many options in numbers to dial.

Is SayNOto0870.com safe?

There’s a few areas where you need to be cautious using SayNoto0870.

The site is run on a “public access” basis meaning that any number which is listed on SayNOto0870 as an alternative contact has been placed on the site by a member of the public, and hasn’t been independently checked.

This can have two negative effects:

  1. Numbers on the SayNOto0870 site may be duds. This means numbers that used to work, but have since been deactivated by the companies concerned. These are unfortunately quite prevalent, as you would expect.

2. A second more sinister reason is scammers, putting on a number on SayNOto0870 so they can imitate the real company you’re trying to contact and steal your details. This is rare, but it’s something worth keeping in mind and be extra-cautious where things don’t quite feel right about a call.

On a related topic, you can read our guide to avoiding telephone scams here.

Explore the website for a non premium rate number

Don’t forget that if you can find a non-premium rate number on a firms website, you can also simply ask to be transferred internally.

Non-premium rate numbers are often sales lines, because funnily enough companies feel it might put off potential customers! However it shouldn’t be something you should stand for as an existing customer expecting a level of service.

You can simply give these a call instead and ask to be transferred to the right department. This doesn’t always work – the person may just give you the premium number to call rather than transfer you internally, but it’s worth a good try.

Any other ideas to avoid premium rate?

Have you found a great way of avoiding premium rate phone charges, used WEQ4U or SayNoto0870 or had any big moneysaving successes in this area? Let us know about them in the comments below!

And that’s it!

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