Calling a 1-800 number from outside the U.S.

I’m currently in France, and have received an e-mail from one of my credit cards, to call them. They think someone has stolen my card and is having a spending spree in the Cote d’Azur, buying electrical adapters and cough medicine.

In this hotel you need to dial “0” to get an outside line. I’ve tried dialing “0-1-800-number,” “0-800-number,” and a few other variants, and all I get is a recording telling me there’s no such number. The guy at the desk doesn’t have any better ideas either.

I know there’s a simple answer to this. What am I missing?

Oh, and I’m calling from the phone in the room, not a cell phone . . . if that matters.

In Europe, you dial 00 + country code for an international call. With 0 for an outside line, you should dial 0-00-1-800-number.
The 1-800-number may not work from outside the US. In that case you must find the “real” number that is behind it. Google or the credit card company website may help you find it.

Yeah, both of my credit cards have two customer service numbers printed on the back: a 1-800 for use in the U.S. and Canada, and a non-800 number for use outside those countries. Both of them also say that you can call them collect, though figuring out how to do that from a foreign country may be more trouble than it’s worth.

Typically, a US toll free number will not be accessible from an overseas location unless the telco you use has made it possible, and they will charge you for the international call anyway. There are such things as international toll free numbers, but they are not used by many companies as they can get pretty expensive to run.

A search did turn up a page on Skype’s blog saying they are trialling Skype calls to US toll free numbers and some other countries. Is that possible for you to try? Skypeout to the number for free.

You should look for (google) USA-direct and they will give you a number that you can call from France and then call any US number. It won’t be free, but should cost less than any other method. Actually, I would use Skype and haven’t used USADirect or CanadaDirect in years.

MikeS has the most likely correct answer for this situation. On the back of every credit card I own are two customer service numbers. One is the toll-free number for use within the USA/Canada, the other is a “normal” number for use elsewhere in the world, but which I am supposed to call collect. I’m sure you need to call the normal number collect.

Well, you could try changing to the numbers below. They work when calling American toll-free numbers from Mexico. I don’t know if this is just a convention that Mexico puts into place, or whether it’s some type of international standard:

        800 ==> 880
        888 ==> 881
        877 ==> 882
        866 ==> 883

Your credit card issuer is run by idiots. Does it not occur to them that if your card is being used in France there is the teeniest possibility that you are in France, and if they want you to call them they need to suggest a number that can be called from France?

You trust these people with your financial affairs? When you get this sorted out, dump then and get a card from somebody who has a clue how the real world works.

In the short term, if you have or can get internet access, go to the website of whatever crowd of cowboys has issued your card and find the “contact us” section. There should be at least one non-toll-free number there, which you can call in the ordinary way - 00 - 1 - (area code) - (seven digit number).

00 is not the international dialling prefix in all European countries (though it is for France where the OP is located). Finland, Belarus, Russia, Georgia, and Kazakhstan all use different prefixes instead of or in addition to 00. Wikipedia has list of international call prefixes by country.

Ha! My company’s (it’s a big one) contracted travel agency (also a huge company in the financial sector) has an attended, non-toll free number available 8 to 4 Michigan time. Outside of those hours, we have to use a toll-free number for 24 hour emergency assistance. Of course we’re most likely to require emergency assistance when we’re on the road in another timezone where it’s not possible to dial a US toll-free number. :rolleyes:

use skype

USA Direct will work, but be aware that AT&T will absolutely gouge you on the price of the call.

Do you know anybody in the US who would be willing to set up a three-way call for you? Call this person and ask them to three-way you with the 800 number.

Most landline phone companies in the US include three-way calling as a pay-per-use feature on all phone lines unless you request to have it blocked. The charge is typically $1 to $2 per use. Most cell phone companies include three-way calling at no charge, but you do potentially have to pay double airtime.

Most people don’t know how to make a three-way call.
From a landline, while talking to one person, depress the switch hook for half a second (or press the “flash” button if your phone has one), like you would do to answer a call-waiting call. You will hear a stutter dial tone. Then dial the third party. When the third party answers, just press the switch hook for half a second (or the flash button) and all three parties will be connected.

From a cell phone: Clear the digits on the display using the “clear” or similar button. While the first person you are talking to is still on the line, press in the digits to call the third party. (This will cause the first party to hear the touch tones you are pressing.) Then press the “send” or “call” button. This will connect you to the third party. When the third party answers, press send or call again and all three will be connected.

As others suggested, first step is to find out how to initiate an overseas call. If you can get to AT&T Home Direct, they should let you call the 800 number if you’re willing to pay for it. (They won’t let you call an 800 number collect.)

I get mail addressed to me in Thailand stating only an 800-number not readily dialed from Thailand. And some come with “only during business hours” notes with no clue as to their time-zone. Sometimes I really do think many Americans are unaware there are any foreign countries besides New Mexico.

I’ve experienced several other frustrations trying to call U.S.A. from overseas. Funniest is making a collect call with your operator just a machine saying “If you accept the charges say ACCEPT … now” while the other end is also a machine saying “If this is a collect call we accept the charges.” (This can, of course, be avoided by selecting “Need a human operator” rather than “Collect Call” during your initial menu.)

This is why we international people use the + symbol to represent “international dialing code”.

Thus the 1-800 number is internationally: +1-800-xxx-xxxx

For avoidance of further doubt, try this site.

It is unfortunate that the country code for the US is “1”, because this is also the long-distance code for dialing within the US. For Americans who are not used to international travel, this causes a lot of confusion. (And that Canada is also “1” as is much of the Caribbean.)

septimus, back in the day I found that some US 800 numbers didn’t work from outside the country, but I haven’t encountered that issue for going on 10 years now.

More correctly, it’s +1 800 xxx xxxx. The ITU recommends that spaces, not hyphens or other punctuation, be used to segment telephone numbers. The area code should be separated from the country code and the rest of the phone number with regular-width spaces, and if possible thin spaces should be used within the local part of the phone number.

You used to be able to dial +1 880 xxx xxxx from anywhere international to get to the corresponding 1-800-xxx-xxxx number inside the North American Numbering Plan, and likewise with 881, 882, and 883. This shouldn’t work any more. The NANPA has reclaimed the 880-883 replacement codes, and there was never one issued to replace the 855 in 1-855-xxx-xxxx numbers (which are now issued).

It’s possible that Mexico is doing something on its own though.

I don’t understand why they don’t allow calls to 1-800 numbers to be made from international, but just billed as a regular international call.

Who is your card issuer? How many times have you traveled abroad without notifying them in advance and had no problem at all? What is their foreign exchange fee rate? I might switch to yours if they’re that good.

I have Bank of America and they block my card if I travel without telling them first. I had my card blocked while I was in Italy three years ago and ended up calling the regular number from my international cell phone and eating the cost because I had the same kind of issue as the OP figuring out how to make a collect call. They even blocked my card last month for buying a plane ticket from DC to Canada :rolleyes: I complained and they said they do that as a fraud prevention action when they see transactions that are “outside my normal spending patterns.” I travel internationally about once a year so I don’t know what they are looking for.

Another vote for Skype. If you have access to the Internet and a computer with Skype, log on with your account; you should be able to dial 1-800-… for free. I did exactly that two years ago in Hong Kong with no problems.

What with there not really being any such thing as long distance calls any more, the whole idea of “toll free numbers” seems a bit antiquated.

Do you have any links to information on the replacement codes, either current or old? I’ve always been pretty curious about how that works.

No kidding. Using the replacement codes has exactly that affect anyway.

Could you explain what you mean by this? I presume you’re talking about a separate fee schedule for long distance calls, not that long-distance calling is no longer permitted at all. My current (German) telephone company has separate local and long-distance calling rates. Even my old North American telephone company does.