The main problems with call centres are that they:
- often use non-geographical numbers which can be expensive - even if you are on the best mobile phone tariff known to man or have the best landline deal you can be charged through the nose when you call non-geographical numbers, i.e. the numbers most companies advertise as their contact number. That’s because they are not typically included in any ‘free minutes’ which is why your phone bill is often more than you expect it to be. (I explain what non-geographical numbers are at the bottom of the article).
- it takes forever to get through the menu system (costing you time and money)
- and they put you in a queue forever (costing you even more time and money).
But now it is possible to fight back and avoid all of the above!
How to beat the call centres
1) First get the best number - Grab your mobile device and download the free iphone app 0870 app or bookmark the website saynoto0870.com. This clever app/website finds alternative and cheaper telephone numbers for the company you are trying to contact. Most companies have more than one contact number- they just don’t advertise them! Mobile users can simply open the app enter the number and an alternative geographical number is suggested, which should be included in your minutes. If you find an 0800 number and you want to use your mobile phone to make the call then you will need to use '0800 buster'. I'll explain more in the next section. But even if you can't find an alternative number to the non-geographical one don't fret.
2) Mobile phone users need to download the free queue beating app WeQ4U - Now fire up the app and get ready to dial the number you want.
3) Start dialling - If you are using a landline then skip straight to step 4. Mobile phone users should read on...
- If after step 1 you have found a cheaper alternative to the non-geographical number then great dial that.
- If you didn't don't worry as WeQ4U will also try and find an alternative. Whether it is successful or not still dial away.
- If you only have an 0800, 0808 and 0500 numbers then, as mentioned earlier, '0800 buster' makes it free to call these numbers without the need for registration or set up. All you need to do is rather than dial 0800 1234567, for example, you first dial (while still in the WeQ4U app) 0333 555 8800. Then you dial your number i.e. 0800 1234567 and press the # key.
4) Skip through the menu system - a great little website called pleasepress1.com has mapped over 12,000 call centre options allowing you to skip through the menus quickly without having to listen to all the options first. Simply go to the site and enter the original call centre number, decide the service you are after and then note down the menu sequence and apply it when you are connected.
5) Avoid queueing - if you are calling on a landline then I've taken you as far as I can. But mobile phone users calling via the WeQ4U app have one last weapon. If you get stuck in a queue dial 9* and the app disconnects you from the call and queues for you. When an agent answers, the app reconnects you! All calls via the app are included in your minutes plus you don’t use your inclusive minutes while the app queues. Genius!
So what are non-geographical numbers anyway?
Numbers such as 0842, 0843, 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871, 0872 and 0873 are used by most companies such as banks, credit card companies and utility companies. But they are rarely included in your phone tariffs ‘free minutes’ and you can be charged as much 40p per minute to call them from a mobile phone.