UK conference call facilities: How to avoid hidden call costs

There are so many conference call facilities out there, it can be difficult to choose. In fact, the choice can be so overwhelming that people just stick to what they know. That’s why a lot of callers don’t even look beyond renowned services like PowWowNow, despite there being great alternatives. Luckily, there are helpful guides which look at which are the best conference call services in the UK and how to set up genuinely free conference calls. Despite these tips, though, many people are still shocked. Suddenly, hidden costs that weren’t apparent as they browsed different conference call facilities appear. To help spare you this unpleasant and unfair surprise, so that you can teleconference to your heart’s content, read on. In this post, we’ll help you avoid the call costs some conference call facilities hide.

First know your needs

Before diving into the nitty gritty of hidden costs, you need to think about what you want from your conference calls. Different conference call facilities offer different features. As you start your search, it’s a good idea to have a list of non-negotiable needs as well as a clear budget. For example, if you’re a budding business eager to make a first impression and be memorable as you court investors, custom branded conference calls might be top of your list. You might be especially keen on having a private conference bridge. Or maybe you’re really spontaneous, or need to react quickly to crises. That might mean that access to reservationless conference calling is a must-have.

Given that conference calls are so popular and useful across industries and beyond the world of business, the different needs and combinations of features are almost limitless. The important thing is to be sure of what you do and don’t need. Otherwise, you might end up making unnecessary compromises, or paying for features you never use.

Be vigilant as you choose your conference call facility

Knowing exactly what features you need can help you whittle down options. Your budget might also be a factor. But the problem is, sometimes even people who are prioritising budget end up somewhat hoodwinked. Conference call facilities sometimes claim to provide free conference calls, for example, and participants or hosts still end up paying. That’s why a lot of people who see free conference calls look for the catch, the trick, or – as is too often the case – the hidden cost.

There are even conference call bridges which actively advertise themselves as having no hidden costs. Here at WHYPAY?, we know that can be true. After all, we make a point of being very transparent about our own costs. That’s why we explain how our free conference call model can work. We’re also totally clear about how we calculate our callers’ savings. And we have a conference call plan that will absolutely always be absolutely free. If you want to breathe easy knowing you have a service you can trust and conference calls you can rely on, WHYPAY? is a good way to go.

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How can conference call facilities hide costs?

Although some businesses are conducting themselves honestly and in good faith, unfortunately not all are. To ensure you avoid falling victim to their misleading promises, it’s important that you know what companies can claim, and the technicalities these claims depend on.

First, let’s be clear. There are conference call facilities out there which will say they have no hidden costs. Sadly, many of these do have hidden costs. They might at first appear to be quite honest claims. After all, they often aren’t advertising themselves as offering free teleconferencing. Instead, they clearly display their service charge right below their dial-in number. What they don’t always mention is the access charge. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. These are some confusing technicalities which people not in telecommunications aren’t always clued up about. First, let’s go over the difference between a service charge and an access charge.

Dial-in numbers

The majority of the most popular and well-known teleconference providers offer 084 dial-in numbers. That essentially means that to join the conference call, you’ll dial a phone number beginning 084. After that you enter whatever details you need to access your specific audio meeting. The crucial part is the beginning of the dial-in number, in this case 084. That’s because this determines how much the call will cost. For 084 numbers, the cost is made up of two separate charges: the service charge and the access charge.

Service charges

This is the charge that is set by the conference call facility. It’s the one that companies are often more up-front about. According to Ofcom, service charges for 084 numbers are usually between 0p and 7p. Unfortunately, most conference call providers are right at the top end of this band. The most recognisable conference call facilities using 084 dial-in numbers (including Buzz Conferencing, and ConferenceNow, for example) charge around 7 pence per minute. EasyAudio comes in slightly lower, with a service charge of 5 pence per minute.

Access charges

The access charge is often the one not clearly stated by conference call facilities. It’s here that the hidden costs are therefore often tucked away. This money goes to your phone company, and the amount depends on which company provides your phone plan. To dial an 084 number, companies can charge anywhere from 8p to 65p per minute. Obviously, call expenses can not only vary hugely between participants, they can also very quickly become absurdly expensive. Typically, calling from a landline will cost considerably less. That’s unfortunate, given that conference calling from a mobile can (and we think should!) be free.

Is there an alternative way of dialling into conference calls?

There are two somewhat contradictory questions that this access and service charge business raises. Firstly, if they can be avoided, why would companies force their callers to pay them? Secondly, if they can’t be avoided, why should companies be dishonest about them?

The answer to the first question sadly negates the second. The fact is, there’s no need to use 084 numbers to access teleconferences. By choosing a different set of telephone numbers, both the access and the service charge could disappear. While this would mean that the conference call facilities don’t get the revenue from the service charge, it would make conference calls much cheaper for their users.

If you want to cut down on conference call costs, you’re better looking for a local rate dial-in number. For the vast majority of UK callers, that would make participating in the conference call free.

Geographic numbers

Local-rate numbers are probably familiar to any layperson. They’re probably what you use to make an appointment with your hairdresser or your doctor, to catch up with your grandparents, or to make a restaurant reservation. They start with 01 or 02, depending on your area. If you have a home landline phone, it almost certainly has one of these numbers attached.

While calls to standard landlines can vary in cost, it’s very unusual nowadays for phone providers not to include them in callers’ bundled minutes. That means that most people don’t have to pay a penny to dial these numbers. The cost is simply part of what they pay for in their phone plan.

Of course, nation-wide companies would argue that having a geographic number doesn’t make sense. If their business isn’t conducted in one specific location, having a number that suggests otherwise can be misleading. It can also detract from the prestige of being a nation-wide brand. Given that conference call facilities’ entire purpose is to connect people across the country, there is some justice to their not choosing geographic numbers. It might seem a bit strange that a team whose members are calling from Cardiff, London and Leeds would dial a Newcastle number for their teleconference, after all.

Conference call facilities should be using 03 numbers

Don’t get us wrong, though. We absolutely are not justifying the use of expensive 084 dial-in numbers. Because although geographic numbers might not be ideal, there is still another option: 03 numbers.

03 numbers are a great option for any business, not just for conference call facilities. They combine the best of geographic and 084 numbers into one ideal package! While 03 numbers aren’t tied to any specific location, like geographic numbers, they’re still charged at the standard landline rate for local numbers. That means that, like geographic numbers, they’re almost always included in the callers’ bundled minutes. Essentially, yes. That makes conference calling free.

No, really. Why pay?

And this is exactly why WHYPAY?’s teleconferences are all accessed with an 03 dial-in number. We don’t think anybody should be paying for the privilege of participating in a meeting, catching up with friends, or even joining a prayer group. If the host wants additional features, they’re free to browse our paid plans – at just £4 or £8 a month, they’re some of the most affordable on the market. Even if you opt for these, the dial-in number will always begin with 03. Neither you nor your participants will pay to join the call. And if you’re perfectly content with the more-than-sufficient providings of our free forever plan, you can stick with that. Not a penny will be parted with by any!

If you want to be confident that no hidden costs can arise, always look for an 03 number. That way, you’ll know calls are just part of your inclusive minutes. No sneaky bills at the end of the month.

And if as well as free you want your teleconferencing to be smooth and reliable, choose WHYPAY?. It’s simple and easy to use. And you don’t need to take our word for how reliable the service is, too. Thanks to services like Trustpilot, we can let our users speak for themselves. Looking at the WHYPAY? reviews, it’s clear that we really are honest and up-front, and when we say no hidden charges, we mean it.

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