Whenever you find yourself in a bind, either you run out of cash and got lost in a foreign country or your abroad on a study grant, you’re feeling lonely and in need of someone to talk to but cash-strapped enough that you can’t even call your own family, it’s always good to know that you can call without having to spend anything.
It’s called a reverse charge number. In a nutshell, reverse charge numbers allow you to call overseas, to a loved one perhaps, and they will shoulder all the related call charges without you having to pay anything. Its one big advantage is during emergency cases when for some reason you cannot pay for a call and will have to settle for a reverse charge or a “collect call.” It will also allow you to avoid run ins with foreign currency, even skip traditional pesky language barriers because you will only have to talk to the operator from the country where you’re calling to. Collect calls are also significantly cheaper than foreign direct calls, and is available in many countries all over the world.
The tricky part is to familiarize yourself with the different access numbers depending on which country you are dialing from. To do this, you will need to initially survey all providers to pick the best one in terms of service, charging rates, and even the ease-of-use of the system that they are using. Afterwards, make sure to carry a list of access codes for that specific provider especially if you are planning to move from country to country as in a tour of Europe or Southeast Asia. You can save the numbers on your phone, on your planner or any convenient location that won’t be easily lost. It would also help if you write down the provider’s website so you can easily look it up in the unfortunate instance that you lose your copy of access codes.
Placing a reverse charge call is very easy. Firstly, you will need to dial the access codes for the specific country where you are dialing from. Normally, this will come in the form of a 1-800 number which is likewise a toll free number so there are no charges billed to the client. If you are calling from within a hotel or any establishment with an internal line, make sure to ask for the code to dial an external number.
You will be connected to an operator who will handle the call transfer to your intended contact. After giving to the operator the number you wish to call, wait for the response as this will take some time. During this period, the operator is explaining to the call recipient that you are placing a collect call with all charges to be billed straight to the recipient. Charging rates will also be explained to make sure there is no confusion so exercise patience in waiting for the call to be connected. It will normally not take more than a minute or two, and assuming your request for a calling call gets accepted, you will be patched through.
There is a method with which the call can be charged to a third-party and not necessarily the one accepting the call. For this case, you will also need to give the number of the person that will shoulder the bill so the operator can confirm with that person before placing the call to your intended contact.
In Australia, the simplest reverse charge number to remember is 1-800-REVERSE which is operated by Reverse Corp., Ltd. These calls can come from mobile phones, pay phones, box phones and many others. A supplementary service recently launched by the same company allows one to call Australia from other countries by simply dialing 8000 REVERSE.
To fully enjoy the benefits of reverse call at least charge, remember to study the charging rates of all providers you are familiar with and pick the one that’s most advantageous for you. Use your reverse calls wisely and prudently so the next time there is a true emergency, you will not be rejected from the other ends on the grounds that you are a constant prankster for reverse calls.