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A consumer guide to short codes and text costs

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Short Code Tariffs
Image supplied by flickr.com/photos/andrewbain/

There is a fair bit of confusion that arises with some people as to what a short code is, what is its purpose, and how much does it cost to text? These are quite valid questions and in the post I’ll attempt to tell you everything you need to know as a consumer about short codes.

Sending a text message to a regular mobile number

Sending a text to a regular 11 digit mobile number is the basic form of SMS you will be used to. If you have inclusive texts in your mobile plan, then there will be no charge for doing this. If you do not have inclusive texts, or you have used them all up, you will be charged by your operator their standard network rate for sending a text message. Your mobile operator will be able to advise you what this charge is, but it is likely to be around the 10p mark.

Sending a text message to a standard short code number

A short code number is a mobile number that typically consists of 5 digits. Our own service makes use of such a short code, 60777. Sending a text to such a number means you will usually be charged by your operator at their standard network rate, around 10p. Inclusive texts in a mobile plan are not normally used when sending an SMS message to a short code.

Sending a text message to a premium rate short code number

With a few minor exceptions, which we do not intend to cover here, sending a text to a premium rate short code number will still only cost you one standard rate text message. Most of these services operate by billing you when you receive a text from them via your mobile operator. In the UK such services are regulated by PhonepayPlus. There are very strict rules about such services and as such it should be very difficult to inadvertently use one without you knowing beforehand that it is a premium rate service and how much it is going to cost you.

tellmeTXT does not make use of such premium rate services.

Sending text messages to a charity short code

A charity short code (always begins with a 7) works in much the same way as a premium rate short code. The main difference is that 100% of the money goes to the charity, whereas with a premium short code roughly one third of what you are charged is shared between the mobile operator and the Government via VAT.

Receiving Text Messages

With the exception of premium rate texts covered above, it should always be free to receive text messages on your UK mobile, even when you are abroad. Neither you or your customers will ever be charged for receiving a text message from tellmeTXT.


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7 thoughts on “A consumer guide to short codes and text costs”

  1. I tried sending a text message to short code 60777 from both O2 and Vodafone networks in the Republic of Ireland but keep getting the reply ‘can’t send message’
    Tried 004460777 and did’nt get the above error message but received no confirmation reply as expected
    Any ideas why I can’t send from ROI?

  2. Thanks for your comment, and a good question. Most short codes are country specific, so typically in ROI, short codes begin with a 5, and the second digit indicates the price band. 60777 is likely to be a UK specific short code and won’t work from outside that region.

    The exception to this are short codes that begin with 11 which are designed to work across most of Europe.

  3. I’m in the uk and just to conform I had no “you’ve opted out confirmation” this is nice that we get no further timewasting. Same with automated calls, press 9 to opt out and the line drops. Just when telesales does the same I find it highly offensive as I was going to ask to be removed form their mailing list, which they never do. worse is when they don’t shut up and I have to hang up Best is when they apologies and say have a nice day, better would be they remove me from their mailing list

  4. The Ltd company that pays for my mobile phone has been charged £2 per week since last April by means of incoming text from 60447 that appears to come from a company called Viva La Voucher. Whilst I did text the word Voucher to this number last April, I had no idea this would result in incoming text charges, in fact I had no idea you could be charged by means of incoming text.
    You say there are strict rules for this type of charge what are they?
    If they have been followed here they are obviously not strong enough.

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