The Hunting of the Snark


Another way to re-define ‘free’

Since our family live in the US, my wife and I decided to get a broadband package from Orange that includes calls at no additional charge to some popular overseas destinations. And for calling our parents, it works great.

But get this. You know ‘toll-free’ numbers in America—the equivalent of freephone in the UK? When I call one of those, I hear a recording, ‘The toll-free number you have dialled is not toll-free if called from outside the United States. You will be charged at international direct-dial rates. If you do not wish to be charged, please hang up now.’

And it’s true. With this package I’m on:

  1. American toll-free numbers are charged.
  2. American toll numbers are free. Relatively.

It’s only a few pence per minute, and I don’t need to call often, but what gives?

The other thing is that quite a few American companies exclusively use toll-free numbers, perhaps (one might charitably think) out of genuine courtesy to their customers. Their customers resident in America, at any rate.

So I think I’m stuck with this bizarre and mildly obnoxious irony until Orange realises they’re being numpties about it.

– The Snark



  1. It’s a conundrum, and I’m appreciating your gratuitous use of “numpties.” Just sayin’.

    Comment by impetua — 06/06/2010 @ 07:59 | Reply

  2. Ah, Orange. Their particular brand of numptiness knows no limits, though perhaps BT would overtake them in the championship. I’ve used, BT, Orange, and currently using Sky for my calls back to the states. They always get you somewhere, the silly bastards!

    Comment by The General (aka: Mommy) — 28/03/2011 @ 23:40 | Reply

    • Yes… been tempted by BT for broadband now and then, but only because they would be different (certainly not assuming they would be better).

      Comment by Jeremy Irish — 29/03/2011 @ 06:24 | Reply

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