Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Phone Thrift

Let's reminisce about the good old days when life was simpler.  Or was it?  To make a call once you were out and about  in Britain you had to have the right change and  track down  one of these icons of bygone style.  So far so good?  It sounds okay-ish in practice but then you have to remember that there was nearly always a queue, more often than not they smelt of stale wee and to top it all the ubiquitous  angry bloke was outside  banging on the window and muttering death threats if you hadn't ended your chat in about ten seconds.

So now we've all got mobile phones and a wealth of technology at our chubby little fingers, calls are so much  cheaper than it were thirty or forty years ago.  I'm reliably informed by a website that didn't look too dodgy that  a transatlantic call to the US in 1966 cost a pound a minute. That's equivalent to about £14.50 in today's money.  Today the same call could cost just 1p a minute or maybe even less. But the ease of use of phones means we make far more calls and some people rack up tremendous bills that would have been unheard of in bygone days.  Yet with a little foresight the cost of those calls can come down significantly each month.  Here's a few ideas.

  • Make sure that you're on the right tariff for your needs.  It's all very well having a Pay as You Go contract on a mobile if your usage is light but a contract may save money in the long run.  Sim-only deals can be less than £10 a month and don't necessarily tie you in to a long contracts.  They can be as short as one month.  Think carefully about how the amount that you're going to use your phone and try to get the balance right as regards call and data needs.  Don't pick a tariff giving you allowances that are far more than you're ever going to use.  Conversely talk to your provider and see if you can upgrade your contract if you regularly go over  your limits.
  • Check what you get for free and what you have to pay for.  0800 and 0845 numbers are not free from my mobile so I make sure that I use my BT landline. On the home phone, calls to mobiles incur an additional cost so I have to use the mobile.  Annoyingly I forget and get it wrong sometimes and it feels like juggling with some of the balls going down the drain.  There must be a mixed metaphor  there somewhere!
  • I've written about 1899.com previously and it's saved me a small fortune in the past.  Whilst I've now got an fairly inclusive tariff with BT at the moment I'm not currently using this but wouldn't hesitate to do so if I needed to make overseas calls at any time in the future. Or reverted to a different call plan.
  • I've bought an add-on for additional data use from Three for £5.11 a month and I can now use my mobile as if it were a dongle and connect my laptop to the Internet on the move.  Not sure whether other providers do this and as it's too hot, I can't be arsed to do the research for you.  Go and find out on your own if this floats your boat and you have a contract with a different telecoms company.
  • If you do fancy that retro experience here's a list of the tariffs for cash calls made from payphones if you can still find one.  I've not tried this myself in a while so not sure if you have to endure the nasty niffs anymore.  Take a hankie to cover your nose and there might be some savings to be had.  60p for 30 minutes of calls to a standard UK landline as advertised on the boxes doesn't seem half bad to me.
  • ...and finally calls back to the UK from overseas and data costs whilst on holiday.  I haven't found the failsafe way of reducing my call costs to pennies.  Something always seems to confound my efforts.  I know that I can connect to the Internet free by skulking outside Maccy Dees but do not want to supersize Louis with Happy Meals in the process.   I'll report back on my latest attempt to beat the system when I've been to France next month.  My cunning plan involves acombination of using pigeon French to buy a Mobicarte Sim direct from an Orange store in France and Skyping lots. 

1 comment:

  1. I am feeling so nostalgic about those red phone boxes that I had actually forgotten that the experience wasn't always pleasant ; still, I do miss them !

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