Special Charges Code of Practice
This guide details all the domestic calls not included in your goodybag and explains how they are charged. Please refer to our pricing page for the most up-to-date information about prices
What are special charges?
Special charges numbers are all the UK numbers not included in goodybags and are charged differently from the PAYG rate for calls to standard UK landline and mobile numbers.
The charges differ from the normal rate because they reflect a service which is charged on top of the regular network charges.
Non-geographic numbers, starting 084 or 087
These numbers are normally used for:
- technical support lines
- chat lines
- tarot/horoscope lines
- sales/booking lines.
Premium rate numbers, starting 09
Premium rate services offer a way of buying information or entertainment you pay for via your phone bill or using your prepaid phone credit.
The services using premium rate numbers are typically:
- Specialist chargeable helplines
- Recorded information lines
- Virtual chat services
- Voting or competitions by phone
- Adult entertainment services
- Reverse calls
Directory Services, starting 118
Directory services are acting as a phonebook and as a helpline.
How service numbers are charged
Any call to a service number starting with 084, 087, 09 or 118 will be broken down into two parts:
- An access charge - This charge goes to giffgaff and is 25p per minute. A minimum of 1 minute charge is applied and is the same for all the number ranges mentioned above.
- A service charge - This is the rest of the call charge, which is set by the company you are calling (e.g. directory enquiries, TV shows, etc.). Service providers are required to clearly state the service charge wherever their number is advertised or promoted.
Calling mobile shortcodes
Mobile shortcodes are numbers that are five to seven digits long and usually start with a 6, 7 or 8. They are used for various automated voice-based services, such as voting on a TV show.
Calls can cost up to £5 per call or per minute. Some calls are free. These calls do NOT count towards goodybag allowances. The call cost is set by the service provider and must be advertised next to the number wherever the number is advertised or promoted.
Where the cost of the call is more than 20p per minute, the service is defined as being a controlled premium rate service and is regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority.
Premium Rate Text services
Texting to a five-digit mobile shortcode can be another way to access Premium Rate Services. Instead of being charged for a phone call, the premium charges are linked to the texts you receive from the service; this is called reverse billing.
The cost of sending a text message to a mobile shortcode is either "one standard rate message" or is "free-to-sender", as advised by the service provider. These messages do NOT count towards goodybag allowances.
Some services will send you a one-off premium text in return and others send messages on a regular basis as a subscription. Receiving premium texts can cost up to £10 per message, with the charge being set by the service provider.
Premium rate subscription services let you get regularly recurring updates or content (like daily weather reports or football scores) without having to request it each time.
Once you've joined the service, you should get a text confirming the subscription, who's providing the service and what it costs. You will continue to receive and be charged for texts from the service until you unsubscribe by sending STOP to the five-digit number.
If you need help, you'll need to contact the provider. To find out who that is, go to the Phone-paid Services Authority number checker and use the five-digit shortcode you dial from your mobile.
Can I get a refund?
This might not be possible, but speak to us about any problems with your bill or the company running the service.
Who regulates controlled premium rate services?
Ofcom appointed the Phone-paid Services Authority to regulate Controlled Premium Rate Services. The Phone-paid Services Authority regulates all premium rate service providers in the UK who have to abide by a Code of Practice. The Phone-paid Services Authority use this Code to make sure premium rate pricing, advertising and content is clear, honest and appropriate.
The Code covers all controlled premium rate call and text services. As well as calls to 090, 091, 098 and 118 numbers it therefore also covers services on 087 numbers and calls to, and texts to and from, mobile shortcodes.
The Phone-paid Services Authority is independent and free. They investigate all complaints about Controlled Premium Rate Services. They can fine companies, shut down services and prevent people from running similar services if they breach the Code.
The Phone-paid Services Authority can be contacted via:
- Their website: psauthority.org.uk
- The helpline on: 0800 500 212
- By letter to: Phone-paid Services Authority, Freepost, WC5468, London SE1 2BR
- Textlink: 020 7407 3431 (for customers who are hard of hearing)
Give them all the information you can about the service you want to report – like the number or five-digit shortcode, where you saw the service advertised and what it said.
- Numbers starting 01 and 02 in UK: These are landline numbers and are charged as standard calls (minimum one minute and then per second) or included in goodybag minutes (but see the following bullet point for some exceptions).
- Offshore landline numbers: Landline numbers allocated in Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man. Offshore 01 numbers are charged at a minimum of one minute and then per minute. They do not count towards goodybag allowances.
- Numbers starting 03: These numbers are charged as standard calls (minimum one minute and then per second) or included in goodybag minutes.
- Numbers starting 055: Corporate numbers (charged in per-minute increments).
- Numbers starting 056: VoIP numbers (charged in per-minute increments).
- Numbers starting 071-075 and 077-079 in UK: These are mobile numbers and are charged as standard calls (minimum one minute and then per second) or included in goodybag minutes (but see the following two bullet points for some exceptions).
- Offshore mobile numbers: Mobile numbers allocated in Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man. Offshore 07 numbers are charged at a minimum of one minute and then per minute. They do not count towards goodybag allowances.
- Non-mobile 07 numbers: Numbers which are formatted as a mobile number but which are managed by automated services. Non-mobile 07 numbers are charged at a minimum of one minute and then per second.
- Numbers starting 076: Radiopaging services (charged in per-minute increments).
- Numbers starting 0800 or 0808 are free-to-caller.
- Numbers starting +800 or 00800 are global numbers within the International Freephone Service. Calls to these numbers are free-to-caller when called from the UK but giffgaff bars calls to these numbers when you are roaming (using your phone outside of the UK). This applies irrespective of whether you are roaming in an EU country or territory or elsewhere in the Rest of World (R.O.W).
Who regulates the various numbers?
Ofcom regulates geographic and mobile numbers and most non-geographic numbers.
The Phone-paid Services Authority covers calls to 087, 090, 091, 098 and 118 numbers, as well as calls and texts to mobile shortcodes – See above
Ofcom is open Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm. Here's how to contact them:
- Fill in the online complaint form.
- Phone: 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040.
- Welsh speakers, call: 0300 123 2023 or 020 7981 3042.
- Fax: 020 7981 3334.
- Textphone: 020 7981 3043 (for people who are deaf or have impaired speech).
Peace of mind
If you would like to, it is possible to block outgoing calls from your mobile phone to premium rate 090, 091 and 098 numbers - see the call services page. This will also bar calls to international numbers including calls to numbers in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
The premium rate bar will NOT block calls to 118 Directory Enquiries, which can be expensive to call.
The premium rate bar also bars texts to various premium rate shortcodes. Most of those that are barred begin with a 6, 7 or 8. With the bar in place, it is still possible to send texts to the lowest-cost shortcodes. These will be charged from airtime credit. Texts to shortcodes are not included in goodybag allowances.
To stop receiving premium SMS messages, text STOP to the shortcode for the service.
If you've subscribed to more than one service from the same provider (with the same five-digit shortcode), you can stop them all by texting STOP ALL.