In which FP ponders the benefits of paying for other people’s bargains

Driving to the office today, I was stuck behind a van which, like small tradesmen everywhere, proudly advertised a free 0800 phone number on the back. And – with little more to occupy my mind – I started wondering: is there any point, any more, in buying yourself a free phone number?

Who pays much for phone calls nowadays? Landline calls cost pence. Does anyone think: “Hmmm. Plumber A and Plumber B are both nearby – but it won’t cost me anything to call Plumber B! Hurrah!” Secondly, and even more important: most people use mobiles, now. Most people, calling from a mobile, have to pay more to call a “free” 0800 number than a normal geographical number.

The only people who are going to care about calling you for free are the people who are going to carefully weigh up the benefits of every single penny they spend. The very people, in other words, who are least likely to bring in money once they’ve phoned you. The very people who are going to query every single item on the bill. So who still buys an 0800 number?

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