Picture: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Do you know the difference between an 0800 number, an 0860 number and an 0861 one?

Many consumers don’t, and apparently some companies are also not aware of the difference.

I’ve seen the words “share call” next to a customer care number beginning with 0861, despite the fact that the cost of dialling an 0861 number is borne by the caller alone.

So here’s how it works: 0800 numbers are free to the caller.

0860 numbers are share-call. The caller pays the cost of a local call, and the recipient picks up the tab for the difference.

0861 numbers are MaxiCall numbers.

You pay 57c a minute – or R0.00950 a second (standard time), the minimum charge being 57c.

However, I recall the cost of those MaxiCalls being higher, so I queried this with Telkom last week and learnt that the cost has indeed come down in recent years – by 10 percent in 2007, and by another 12.3 percent last August.