If you are not UK based – then I feel sure their are equivalent rip-offs in your country!
Companies who want your business and offer an 0800 (free) number are the one’s I tend to go for. Those who offer an 0870 number are those who really don’t care whether you buy or not – they make money out of people who enquire (cash back on the phone call) and usually give you the run around before putting you through to the department you need to speak to.
Companies who offer 0845 (supposedly a local call charge) haven’t yet worked out that a local call, and a national call for many of us is free as we pay an all-inclusive bill. If they haven’t worked that out, I am unlikely to buy anything from them!
Sometimes these latter companies put up an argument that they need the automatic routing of these calls to their nearest local branch. Absolute rubbish in many cases as you are just put through to a sales call-centre!
I have no problem with help lines using higher cost numbers, as long as that doesn’t also include an annual fee for the help desk, of course.
If a company does offer an 0870 number, and there are no other companies offering an 0800 number and you have to use them, visit saynoto0870.com and see if you can get an 01xx, 02xx or 03xx number for that same company, there are hundreds and hundreds on the site.