‘Forget1850’ app helps phone users avoid big bills

13 Jan 2012

A Galway start-up has created a new app that allows users to access cheaper customer service landline numbers as an alternative to numbers that begin with 1850, 1890 or 0818 that in some cases rack up large bills.

Colm Murphy, MD of Network ID Ltd, which is based in GMIT’s Innovation Centre in Galway, said inspiration for the new app came after he was charged €13 for a call to one particular organisation’s ‘customer services’ 1850 number.

“The vast majority of household service providers, including telecoms, Revenue, Government agencies, as well as most banks and energy suppliers, use 1850/1890 as their customer service contact numbers. 

“Irish consumers such as myself are becomingly increasingly irritated at the high costs associated with calling 1850/1890 numbers,” Murphy railed.

“The Forget1850 directory app was developed to provide Irish consumers with a choice on what costs they would incur when contacting these organisations or companies,” said Murphy.

In some cases, consumers may be unwittingly paying as much as €10 in phone charges to simply communicate with a company – especially when reporting a fault in a product or service, where the wait time to speak with a company representative may be excessive. Invariably, an 1890 number is the only contact number advertised.

“Forget1850 users could save up to €52.50 per year by using alternative landline numbers rather than the typical 1850/1890 numbers advertised by companies,” according to Murphy. “For example, if an O2 bill pay customer calls an 1890 (35c per minute) number for 10 minutes they will be charged €3.50 per call. Based on a rough average of making 15 such calls per year that’s a saving of €52.50.”

Non-geographical numbers such as those beginning with 1850/1890 and more recently 0818 became popular before bundled minutes became an integral part of both landline and mobile contracts. However, not only are 1850/1890 and in some cases 0818 numbers not included in a monthly contract’s ‘Free Minutes Bundle’,  they also cannot be called from overseas or through Skype.

Forget1850 is available on iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry platforms.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years