The much-hyped start of X Factor's phone voting begins this Saturday. Voting for a reality TV show usually means dialing an expensive premium rate number, but there's a new system that could beat this. Free2call.tv says you can vote for free if you have inclusive mobile or home phone minutes, or at the same cost as landline numbers, as its advertisers pay for your call.
How does it work?
This is only completely free if you have a free evening and weekend call package, but will still be significantly cheaper. When voting for the first live show of X Factor begins this Saturday night, log on to the Free2call.tv website and pick the corresponding number of the act you want to vote for. It'll begin '03', a local rate number.
You'll hear a 15-second advertisement, then the call should be diverted to the official X Factor line. However, for the vote to be counted, you must hear the official confirmation; if you don't it won't count. But if you've not paid anything, nothing's lost.
Will it work?
This, of course, is the million pound question. It's a brand new site which won't fully launch until this Saturday, so is still untested.
But the most important thing to remember is it's free if you have inclusive minutes to landlines. So the worst that can happen is you listen to an ad but don't get to vote.
How well it works depends on how good the capacity of the phone system is, both in taking calls and then connecting them through to the TV company's voting lines.
You may get through, listen to an ad and hear confirmation your vote's been counted. You may get an engaged tone, which means the system can't cope with the number of callers at that moment, so you may want to try again. Or, at the very worst, you may get connected, hear the ad, but not get transferred through to hear confirmation of your vote.
But, if you used inclusive minutes, it wouldn't have cost you a penny, so it's well worth a try.
What does X Factor think of all this?
X factor, as you might imagine, isn’t so pleased, and the producers have been scathing about the website’s claims.
A spokeswoman for X Factor said: "We have attempted to investigate the claims made by the company, but it has so far refused to engage with us or BT, and as a result we are unable to reassure viewers that the systems used by Free2call.tv would be able to adequately process the call volumes that it anticipates.
"This may mean that votes cast using these unauthorised lines are not counted.
"In order to ensure that their votes are properly counted, we would urge viewers to think very carefully before voting via any method that has not been subject to such high levels of scrutiny."