Sign our e-petition

Help end extortionate access charges

Mobile phone companies are raking in millions of pounds every year in hidden costs at the expense of unwitting mobile phone users.

We have raised an e-petition calling for OFCOM to ban this extortionate practice and introduce new laws to protect consumers.

In July 2015 OFCOM introduced legislation to make call charges clearer to users- but they failed to make it cheaper! Actually call charges have become higher as a result of the new OFCOM rules.

We are demanding a cap on the amount that mobile phone companies can levy for ‘Access Charges’ when consumers make a call to a premium number (starting 084, 087, 09 and 118).

Currently this can add as much as 45 pence per minute to a call that is advertised at just 1p per minute – and the consumer has no idea until the bill comes in.


Why Access Charges were introduced.

1st July 2015, OFCOM introduced ukcalling.info, the biggest change in telecom industry for over a decade. It was designed to make call rates to premium numbers clear for everyone.

OFCOM introduced two concepts. Calls to premium numbers (starting 084, 087, 118 & 09) are now made up of a Service Charge and an Access Charge.To work out the actual cost of the call the consumer has to add both together ie:

Service Charge + Access Charge = Total Call Cost

The Service Charge goes to the service who advertises the premium number. By law, this cost must always be shown wherever the premium number is advertised. For example: a company with the number of 0871 781 8181 must state “Calls cost 13p per minute, plus your phone company's Access Charge”.

The user then has to add the Access Charge to the declared Service Charge to find the total call cost. The Access Charge belongs to the network being used to make the call – companies like O2, EE, Vodafone, BT, Sky etc.

An OFCOM video explains the Service Charge and Access Charge in full detail here


Why call charges are now more expensive

In bringing this change OFCOM has made call charges clearer to users but failed to make it cheaper! Actually call charges have become higher as a result of the OFCOM oversight.

Big mobile companies now charge as much as 45p per minute for their Access Charge regardless of the price of the Service Charge.

This means that a call to a number where the Service Charge is just 1p could end up costing 46p a minute. (1p + 45p = 46p).

Similarly, in the example given above, a caller would pay 58p per minute. (13p + 45p = 58p).

Often, however, it’s not easy for a consumer to find out in advance what a mobile company is going to charge. They only find out when a hefty bill comes in at end of the month, or their Pay as You Go plan has suddenly run out and they have to top up again.

What mobile phone companies charge:

Below is a list of Access Charges from major mobile companies:

PENCE PER MINUTE (PayAsYouGo/PayMonthly)

EE - 44p / 40p
O2 - 45p / 45p
Vodafone - 45p / 45p
Three - 45p / 45p
Virgin - 36p / 36p

The Case against excessive Access Charges - The RIP OFF!

When we call a plumber or carpenter and dial a premium number starting 084 or 087, we know we will pay a charge for calling that number. However, what we do not realise is that the plumber or the recipient of the call actually makes a meagre penny or two while the middlemen, the big mobile networks are earning a fortune on the back of the plumbers, carpenters and the consumers!

It may cost 46p to call an 084 number while the Service Charge is only 1p! Even a zero-rated 0845 number may cost 45p! Mobile companies are making a whopping 45 times more than the service company consumers are trying to reach!

Following a research done by ICC-UK (an independent consulting company) we ran a model of forecasted Access Charge and Services Charge in the UK for 2015-2016. We found that the total cost of Service Charge market is around 388m GBP per year. If all of these calls were to go via companies like O2 or Three or Vodafone which levy a 45p Access Charge UK consumers would be worse off by 2.2 billion GBP every year.

RightCall's Findings:

RightCall is not just an app – we are also a fair telecoms campaigner working towards a fair price for every call. RightCall has found that:

As a result of un-capped Access Charges left by the oversight of OFCOM the mobile companies are making billions at the expense of consumers. The 2015, 2016 and 2017 revenue reports of mobile companies stand witness to this.

Virgin Network used to have an Access Charge of 36p per minute. However, they decided to increase the Access Charge in July 2016 to 45p to be on a par with all big networks.

With all the big mobile networks charging similar prices, like a cartel, the consumer is being held to ransom. Rather than market competition reducing Access Charges, in reality the operators are keeping Access Charges high.


The solution – What We Want!

By signing the e-petition you can demand OFCOM to regulate Access Charges as follows:

  1. Cap Access Charges at a reasonable level
  2. Ensure that the total Access Charge collected by the operators is not higher than the Service Charge levied by the companies who answer the call.
  3. Show realistic example prices of Access Charges wherever the Service Charge is advertised, not simply state 'plus your network operator's Access Charge',


demand a fair price for every call!

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