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Premium text services and Shortcodes

What are premium texts and short codes?

Premium text services start with 5,6,7 or 8 and are usually a five or six digit number known as a short code, but can also be an 8 digit code (starting with 3).

Short codes

Short codes are used for services including entering TV competitions or downloading games or ringtones. You'll pay for the service through your mobile bill. 

Services that use premium texts and short codes include:

  • Sending messages to radio stations
  • Chat services
  • Accessing low cost calls to international numbers
  • Downloading games and ringtones to your mobile
  • Entering TV competitions 
  • Voting in TV reality shows
  • Charity donations

Premium text subscriptions

Some premium rate services run as a subscription. Premium services are not provided by O2, so if you want to query a service you’ve been charged for you’ll need to contact the sender directly. You will always receive a welcome text when you sign up, explaining the service they have signed up to and how to cancel, should you wish to.

Here are a few steps you can take to unsubscribe or query charges:

  1. The most common way to unsubscribe is to text STOP or STOP ALL to the number given in the premium message sent to you. This may be different to the number used to send you the message, it will be a five digit number. Within 24 hours, you’ll get a free text confirming that the subscription has been stopped.
  2. If you’re still being charged for unwanted premium messages or want to query charges, you’ll need to contact the sender directly. You’ll find their contact information on the premium message sent to you or you can enter the number on the Phone-paid Services Authority website.
  3. If you need more support or information, or want to make a complaint, the Phone-paid Services Authority website is the place to go.

Premium rate service regulation

The Phone-paid Services Authority is the regulator for UK premium rate phone services. You'll find free advice on their website, including a number checker that tells you who operates premium services and how much they cost. If you think you've been wrongly charged, you’ll find information about making a complaint.

You can also visit the Phone-paid Services Authority YouTube channel for helpful videos.

Children and premium rates

The Phone-paid Services Authority runs PhoneBrain, a child-friendly version of their main site to help kids understand premium rate services. It's also helpful for teachers and parents.

Text and picture messages

Cost for sending a picture message?

Picture messages (MMS) are not always included in your standard tariff plan, to find out if MMS are included log onto My O2 Business and click view and manage your account. Check out our up to date standard charges below.

Please note the ‘multimedia messaging service’ found under ‘Your other Bolt Ons and services’ only indicates the account is set up to send and receive MMS and does not mean MMS are included in your allowance.   

You might be charged for a picture message (MMS) when you thought you’d sent a text (SMS). This could be because your text has turned into a picture message.

A text might turn into a picture message because:

  • You will always be charged an MMS if there are pictures or attachments in the message
  • You’ve included a symbol, emoticon or emoji
  • You’re sending a group text
  • The message is too long
  • The message has a subject line
  • Sending a text with or without attachments to an email address will always be charged as an MMS.

If you're sending a text message to a group and only one of the recipients is an email address. The device will send an MMS to all recipients. To stop this from happening, send a separate text to the email address/s. 

This can happen on any network and is beyond our control. Your phone will usually tell you if it’s converting a text message into a picture message.

Older phones like the Samsung Galaxy S1, S2, S3, S4 and the Galaxy Note 1, 2, 3 and the Galaxy Ace will change a text into a picture message if it includes certain smileys or symbols. If you’ve got one of these devices, you can switch the function off. Go to Messaging > Settings > Text Messages > Input mode > choose Unicode instead of Automatic. Newer devices such as the Samsung S6, S7, S8 will handle smileys or symbols as an SMS.

If you’re having this issue with a different device, take a look at the manual. You might need to contact the manufacturer to find out how to switch the function off.

IPhone users can send picture messages or effects such as Digital Touch or Hand written messages for free to other Apple users using IMessage. For this to work both Apple users need to be connected to the internet and IMessage turned on in settings, you know it’s an IMessage when the ‘Send’ button is blue. When the ‘Send’ button is green this means you are sending a standard SMS or MMS and will be charged at your standard rate.

Send MMS for less
Find yourself regularly sending MMS, we have Bolt Ons you can add to your tariff and save on the cost of sending MMS. Here are our prices, you can also add this by logging into My O2 Business.
 

Premium call charges and Prefix

The cost of calling a phone number depends on the digits it starts with. This is known as a prefix. Some business tariffs have selected premium numbers included, you can check if this is included in your plan by logging into My O2 Business and click view and manage your account.

If you make lots of service calls you should regularly check the latest prices with the provider, as they're subject to change. This is because when you make service calls the number you call is often a premium rate number. These are usually operated by third parties, so we can't notify you when their prices change.

If you use O2 premium rate and customer service numbers we'll let you know about any pricing changes in the usual way, in accordance with our terms and conditions.

You'll be charged for at least 1 minute when you call a premium rate number.

On 1 July 2015, the cost of calling 08, 09 and 118 numbers was split into two parts. The total cost of your call will be the access charge plus the provider's service charge; this will only apply to Mobex customers when their contract is renewed:

  • The access charge - this is what we charge you, per minute, for connecting the call
  • The service charge - this is the charge for the rest of the call. The organisation you're calling decides the service charge and has to make you aware of the charge. For example, if the service charge was 20p per minute, the organisation you're calling might say "Calls cost 20p per minutes, plus your phone company's access charge".

Below you'll find the charges for calls to UK service and premium numbers. These are not part of your inclusive minutes unless stated otherwise on your business plan:


0800 and 0808 numbers are free; it's also free to call O2 Customer Service numbers.

090 / 091 numbers are premium rate numbers which are usually used for services such as horoscope readings, competitions and high-end technical support.

118 numbers are for directory enquiries. Take a look at the directory enquiries section.
You'll be charged for at least 1 minute when you call a premium rate number.

03 Numbers - Ofcom has introduced 03 numbers as an alternative to chargeable 08 numbers for example 0870.

Calls to 03 numbers will cost the same as other standard fixed line numbers (starting 01 or 02), and are included as part of any inclusive or free minutes allowance on O2 tariffs.
 

(all charges ex VAT)

Type of call or message Joined us before 15th June 2017 Joined after 15th June 2017
Calls within your O2 account Free Free
Calls to other O2 Mobiles Free Free
Calls to landlines (01, 02, 03) 33p/min 45p/min
Calls to other UK mobiles 33p/min 45p/min
Calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers Free Free
Calls to 05 numbers 37p/min 45p/min
Calls to 084, 087, 09, 118 numbers 37p/min mobile access charge + service charge and 5p/min access charge + service charge 45p/min mobile access charge + service charge and 5p/min access charge + service charge
10 standard landlines Free Free
Picture messages (home and roaming) 30p/message 40p/message
Group conferencing 322, 323 8p/min 8p/min
GSM WAP 8p/min 8p/min
Calls from UK to Europe 8p/min £1.25/min
Calls while abroad See International rates See International Rates
Calls to O2 customer services Free Free
Text messages 10p/message 20p/message
Video calls Data allowance Data allowance
Data 2.5p per Mb 3p per Mb
O2 Directory Enquiry services (118402) 83p/min   £1.25/min 
All other Directory Enquiry services Up to £3.45/min Up to £3.45/min
Calls to 07 and 01 numbers in Jersey, Guernsey & Isle of Man 33p/min 45p/min
Text to Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man Free 20p/message

These charges apply across all landlines and mobile phones - not just your O2 phone. To find out more, visit ukcalling.info

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