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Cheap phonecalls from England to France

(16 Posts)
QueenofWhatever Sat 04-Jun-11 17:39:31

Not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I have a friend in France who I want to start phoning from my landline on his landline.

When I google for cheap phonecalls, there are loads of companies who offer it. You don't need to register or anything, just dial the number they give and the number you want to call and then you just pay their low rates, e.g. 2p/minute.

Couple of examples:

I just cannot understand how this can work. If they don't have any of my details, how can they charge me their rate? Is it real (and safe - although can't understand how there could be any danger, just slightly paranoid).

Also any companies that you would recommend? My landline contract is with Sky Talk.

CruelAndUnusualParenting Sat 04-Jun-11 18:23:46

It seems likely that the 0844 number is charged at 2p/min and BT will pay planet-numbers a cut of that 2p. There will probably also be a connection charge on top of that 2p/min.

Is it real? Probably.

Is it safe? Definitely.

I haven't used the ones you mention, but I have used and they are genuine.

NetworkGuy Sun 05-Jun-11 17:38:33

The explanation about 0844 with a split of the cost going to pay for the international part is correct.

Of course there are some downsides as

(a) not all phones can hold two very long numbers to dial and handle a pause in between..

(b) if the second (French) number cannot be stored in your phone you run the risk of dialling some other number and being charged. You'd also be charged even if the number is engaged as you start to be charged for the 0844 call from the second it is "answered" and gives you a dial tone or voice prompt to enter the (French) number.

(c) as well as the 0844 per minute fee, you may pay a significant setup fee (it gets to be noticeable if the destination is engaged, and you clock up several 10p + 2p charges, each for 10 seconds of French 'engaged' tone.

Not sure what Sky Talk offers in comparison - they may have a package including some foreign call minutes and France is bound to be a popular destination number so should be included.

If you expect to make lengthy / lots of calls, then check > < as they charge 1p/minute from a BT landline (if I was making the call I'd dial 1899 and then the full French number preceded by the country code... 1899 would respond with " 1 p per minute " and then I would hear the ringing tone soon after, so if I misdialled and it said 15p per minute I could hang up and not be charged).

For users on other networks like Virgin Media I know they have both 0800 and 020 numbers for access.

Sorry but I don't know if they charge some extra for using 0800 to get through - I suspect they would do so as they would have to pay Sky for handling the call to the 0800 service.

Obviously the setting up of account and checking how much a call has cost you may be a bit of a hassle but worth doing to compare with 0844. 1899 service will charge you when you hit about 2 to 3 pounds first time round, and they put everything online within around 24-48 hours so easy to check the cost of the call (not sure if Sky does, but BT also puts call details online, usually within 72 hours)

NetworkGuy Sun 05-Jun-11 17:42:35

Meant to add - it depends how much contract you have left to run on your Sky service but with FreeSat offering some of the channels and some other services offering cheap broadband and calls, it might be worth considering whether to switch from Sky at some point in the future.

Nothing against them, but the Sky dish points to the satellites for FreeSat and there can be advantages to keeping a phone line with BT, though am not suggesting/ recommending BT be used for the actual phone calls or broadband smile

JBellingham Sun 05-Jun-11 18:50:24


QueenofWhatever Mon 06-Jun-11 20:09:40

Thanks, great explaination. Funnily enough I've also been thinking about moving away from Sky as my contract is nearly up and although I had a great introductory rate, it's steadily increasing in cost. But I do love being able to Sky+ things.

I wondered about Skype - can you do it just for voice calls or is it always a video link?

TheRhubarb Mon 06-Jun-11 20:14:12

You can do Skype for just voice calls and it's completely free.

NetworkGuy Tue 07-Jun-11 12:27:23

Should have thought of Skype. Have not used it from home, but know one or two who do. You can also use Skype on some mobiles such as from Three, so maybe similar is possible in France too.

Yes, free, but has recently been bought by Microsoft, so I expect they will (longer term) make some changes to the service, probably not for the better, and may possibly not remain free.

JennyPiccolo Tue 07-Jun-11 12:31:56

ive been using those access number things for years, i dont know how they work but they aren't a scam, ive never been charged more than they've said.

i know and are good, i think there's a list of them on somewhere, which is quite a trustworthy website.

aside from, that, i now use TalkTalk for my phone and broadband and i get free international calls up to an hour. TalkTalk arent great for customer service, but the package is really good for me.

NetworkGuy Tue 07-Jun-11 12:40:18

Jenny - do they have a max number of hours per month for that deal ?

Also, I assume they limit the number of countries to say 20-30 'most popular' so they may include English-speaking countries and some ex-colonial places, as the commonest lists include USA/Canada, Australia/NZ and perhaps Singapore, then 'close' parts of Western Europe and Scandinavia.

Just being nosy - may help OP consider TT if it offers reasonable alternative to Sky.

JennyPiccolo Tue 07-Jun-11 12:48:55

I dont think there is a max number of hours, you can just hang up at 59 minutes and dial back.

It is most popular countries, aye, but all countries i wanted to phone were on that list. France was deffo on it, and some countries mobile numbers were included.

NetworkGuy Tue 07-Jun-11 12:59:00

QoW wrote "I do love being able to Sky+ things"

Assuming you are meaning regular (BBC, ITV, Ch4, Five and similar) channels, then both Freeview and FreeSat offer private video recording (PVR) options... just look for 'PVR' options at some big websites... Comet, Currys,, and don't forget 'Richer Sounds' which may have a local branch (they have pretty keen prices, and you can get 5 year warranty on items such as TVs so may get extended warranty for a PVR too).

You can buy FreeSat SD (standard definition) at perhaps 75 pounds, or HD (High Def) at about 150. PVR for Freeview may cost from about 200 and for FreeSat, from around 300.

I don't have FreeSat myself but saw it when the Olympics were on in China and they have a good range of channels. I think back then Five was missing from FreeSat, so do, please, check any of your favourite channels are offered before buying any of these alternatives smile

There are some radio channels on Sky which might not be on FreeSat, so again for anyone who has favourites, do check first before cancelling Sky!

NetworkGuy Tue 07-Jun-11 13:09:26

Pleased to say prices have come down on FreeSat PVR (or for the same cash, they include a bigger hard drive, 500 GB seems popular now!). has some FreeSat PVRs made by Humax from around 200 pounds with 5 year warranty around 20 quid extra. HTH.

NetworkGuy Tue 07-Jun-11 13:11:27

Thanks Jenny - useful info.

Bartimaeus Tue 07-Jun-11 13:14:43

What phone contract does your friend in France have?

Almost everyone here has a package which includes cable, internet and landline. The landlines then give you free phone calls to landlines in dozens of other countries including the UK.

I live in France, have "Free" as my provider and I get free phone calls to landlines in the UK. No time limit.

I don't know anyone who has a separate internet provider or cable provider as it's much cheaper as a package...

QueenofWhatever Wed 08-Jun-11 20:11:04

I wasn't sure I'd get any responses to my post but you've all been so helpful and thanks networkguy for all the information.

It turns out my friend in France does have a package which includes free calls to here and with no time limit, which is just as well as we spent two hours on the phone last night.

The moneysavingexpert link was really helpful as well. Thank you all so much.

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