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Conference Calling Hints and Tips - Avoiding Call Charges

by on ‎06-05-2020 10:37 - last edited on ‎07-05-2020 15:45 by Community Manager (10,864 Views)

 

With the country in Lockdown, many people are now forced to work from home.  Whilst lockdown may be coming to an end, it could be several months before things normalise - and the "new normal" may mean workers still have to spend a part of their working day or week "working from home".

 

A lot of what we take for granted at work, including face-to-face meetings, team discussion calls and video calls, can actually be made to work from home. Success depends on the bandwidth you have available to you on your Internet connection (domestic broadband or 4G services on your mobile) and the conferencing application being used to host the meeting or call.

 

Sometimes you can join in a call, and, unwittingly if it's from your mobile, you can quickly rack up call charges - charges that your mobile or cellphone provider will see as valid call charges (ie, don't expect a £30 call to a US conference call dial-in number to be reimbursed by your mobile provider!).

 

Here's a list of some of these conference calling applications that you might encounter:

  • GoToMeeting
  • Zoom
  • Google Hangouts
  • Webex
  • WhatsApp
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Skype

The easiest way to ensure you are not going to get a hefty bill for using, or taking part in, a call hosted in one of these applications is simply "don't use your mobile phone to join a conference call".

 

Using the audio and video device on your desktop or laptop PC or tablet (one without a 3G or 4G dongle!) and your home broadband is one surefire way to avoid being landed with a hefty bill some days or weeks later.

 

A bit more about some of these platforms, and their common logos, below - take care, don't use your mobile to join a call on many of these, unless you know for sure that you're *not* going to be charged because the link you are clicking on starts a voice call from your device, rather than using your device's Internet connection to let you participate using the speakers, microphone (hands-free) and camera!

 

What is GoToMeeting: How to Create, Join & Record Meetings - TechOwnsGoToMeeting is one I have used, commonly to attend one-to-many calls. Useful where a speaker has a slide-deck to present and talk to - most people who join using the GoToMeeting app on their PC will be muted, but able to type comments to the speaker real-time.  

 

Zoom: An accessible video/web conference service | Zoom video ...Zoom is a platform that mixes audio and video, and allows people to see several of the other people in the call on the screen at the same time. Again, joining from a PC is the best, as you have the screen real-estate to see the faces of the others on the call, if their camera is on and their home broadband can carry the added data load of a moving picture.

 

Increase the success of your Microsoft Teams implementation ...Microsoft Teams can be used similarly, but has the constraint of allowing only 4 video feeds on the screen at a single time - although everyone can talk - rowdy and fun, and usually the remit of medium to large business users.  This one does allow you to set up an image of your choice to appear behind you - fun, like I said.

 

Whatsapp-logo – Paykasa 112WhatsApp is an app that is commonly used on the mobile platform, mainly to send pictures and links to one or many people simultaneously. It can be used to make calls, and it uses your data connection to do this (no chargeable call to talk to another WhatsApp user).  It also permits up to 4 users into a call simultaneuosly, changing to 8 at at a time in the near-future.

 

Google Hangouts combines voice and video into a single screen, and again is best used on a PC or laptop, using the laptop's microphone, camera and speakers.  Trying to use it on a mobile can, if the person hosting the meeting has sent out a dial-in meeting number, very quickly rack up charges on your phone bill, often to an international number!

 

Webex LogosWebex again is the remit of the larger business environment, and works in both ways - using PC audio and video devices at no cost, or offering a dial-in, or worse, a dial-back to your phone - and depending on how the hosting company has set this up, can mean you are charged, especially if the dial-in number is a US FreeFone number.  Webex, like GoToMeeting, is quite often a one-to-many solution.

 

Microsoft brings end-to-end encryption on Skype: ReportSkype is another app best used on a laptop, as it can result in calls to numbers in odd corners of the world that will appear on your phone bill if attempted from your phone.

 

If you must use your phone, and you are offered the option to dial-in, or if the system offers to "call you back", avoid it at all costs. 

Always pick the option that most closely matches "Call using computer", as highlighted in yellow on the prompt example below (taken from the Webex conferencing system on laptop):

 

20**Personal info** 20_42_16-Changes to WebEx Audio.png

 

This will ensure that your phone's, tablet's or laptop's built-in microphone, speaker(s) (and possibly camera) is used, saving you the cost of a call or saving your bill showing a charge-back for the system calling you back (after all, someone has to pay for the phonecall!).

 

We hope this helps you avoid the pitfalls of having to join into work meetings whilst cooped-up at home in these times!

Comments
by
‎06-05-2020 10:50 - edited ‎06-05-2020 10:52

Just brilliant @pgn . We had a post about merging calls today from someone who wated to merge with 3 people

So two questions.

1) Does O2 need to activate it? Many previous posts say yes they do

2) What about those who want to Merge calls. Is this exactly the same process?

 

Finally @Martin-O2  can this go in the Index of guides with a #conference please?

by
on ‎06-05-2020 13:23
If we add merging calls, is there any information about prices? Is it free for up to XX number, but costs £aa if you go above that?
by
on ‎06-05-2020 13:29

Good info @pgn 

I will mention @Marjo  who will open it to add information as and when you have it.

by
‎06-05-2020 16:48 - edited ‎06-05-2020 16:52

@Cleoriff wrote:

Just brilliant @pgn .

So two questions.

1) Does O2 need to activate it? Many previous posts say yes they do

2) What about those who want to Merge calls. Is this exactly the same process?

 


Thank you, @Cleoriff!

 

Are you thinking about the Business user "Just Call Me" from O2?  The one with a flat-rate fee per month, the extra that let's people call your mobile and drop into an up-to-10-person call?

 

https://www.o2.co.uk/business/solutions/voice-unified-comms/collaboration/just-call-me

 

I was steering clear of that, as it is not a Consumer product. 

 

I can make a note in the guide about multi-call on your smartphone, if compatible, but it needs to be enabled, is not on all phones, and can get messy charges-wise. And I need to understand it a bit more myself 😅

 

Let me know, we'll put it it in, if it helps 👍

 

I think that touches on @gmarkj and @jonsie queries too, or am I barking up the wrong multi-call/Conferencing tree? 

 

 

by
on ‎06-05-2020 17:07
There have been a few instances of people asking about merging calls.
Didn't know if there was a limit to doing this "free" and if so what it was.
by
on ‎06-05-2020 18:43

@pgn 

There was a query this morning where someone wanted to merge calls with two other people. They couldn't and reading through three other older threads, I saw the response was O2 had to activate it. So that's what I said in my response.

by
‎06-05-2020 20:35 - edited ‎06-05-2020 20:40

@Cleoriff wrote:

@pgn 

There was a query this morning where someone wanted to merge calls with two other people. They couldn't and reading through three other older threads, I saw the response was O2 had to activate it. So that's what I said in my response.


Definitely a gap there to be filled - perhaps one specific to O2 and how to enable multi-way or multi-participant calls on all 3 models: PAYG, Consumer and Business Contract. Enabling the 2nd line may involve a cost and a bolt-on.

 

This article piques my interest, for Android: https://techboomers.com/t/make-android-phone-conference-call

 

 

Good advice, too, on your answer today, @Cleoriff

by Community Manager
on ‎07-05-2020 14:43

Brilliant guide @pgn, thanks for pulling this info together. It's really useful. cool

 

We can touch base via PM about adding some content on call merging. wink

 

The guide link has been added to the system with #conference Guide: Conference Calling Hints and Tips - Avoiding Call Charges  

by O2 Social Media Team
on ‎20-05-2020 14:07

Hey all, we wanted to let you know that we’ve identified a small number of customers who have recently dialled into a Zoom call using an international number. As a result some customers have incurred international call charges costing £2.50 a minute.

 

We’ve now barred this number meaning customers can no longer use it, and instead will need to click on the link to access the Zoom session using data, or use the UK number to dial in.

 

We’ve identified customers who have incurred these charges and we will be adding a credit to their account from this week, which customers will see on their next bill or in unbilled charges. We’ll be sending this message to these customers to let them know:

 

“Hi, it’s O2. You recently joined a Zoom call by dialling one of the USA numbers, this is classed as an international call and would normally be chargeable. Don’t worry though, we’re going to credit back any such calls made since 23 Mar 2020, which you’ll see on your next bill. When joining Zoom calls in the future, use the web link or one of the free UK numbers to avoid extra charges.”

When joining calls via Zoom, Hangout, Teams or similar, we recommend doing so via data. If you need to dial in via a number, we recommend using any available UK dial-in options to minimise call charges.

by
on ‎20-05-2020 14:25

Great news for many who were caught unawares by this, @Chris_K- O2 going that extra mile for their customers again.

 

Is the "barred number" listed anywhere, as I can see complaints about a spend cap or call barring restriction coming in as people try to join Zoom, unknowingly use the international number (which is barred), then they put 2 and 2 together and come up with 32...😉

 

(We all know the answer is 42, of course ! 🤣) 

by
on ‎20-05-2020 16:03

That is a great gesture @Chris_K and I think one that should be made more public (perhaps an announcement?).

The barred list is also a good idea so that we can refer to it when the inevitable questions start pouring in...

by O2 Social Media Team
on ‎21-05-2020 09:29

Hey guys,

As requested, here's a list of barred US dial-in numbers to help protect customers and ensure they either use the web/data option, or dial-in using the UK number.

0013462487799

13462487799

0016465588656

16465588656

by
on ‎21-05-2020 09:35

Thanks for that info @Chris_K 

by
on ‎21-05-2020 11:36

Excellent, many customers have had these unexected charges.