The X Factor free voting loophole appears to have been a success, with thousands avoiding the sky-high premium rate prices to support their favourite act. tested the service on Saturday night, during the first live X Factor show of the current series, and can report no problems when voting for free (see the Free X Factor Voting guide).

There has also been generally positive feedback on this site's forum, though isolated reports suggested some were unable to vote.

Telephone company, which administers the cheap calls service, says its first week proved a success (see the Home Phones and Cheap Mobiles guides).

Managing director Mark Hillman says: "We handled nearly 10,000 calls over the weekend and 103,000 website impressions. We are pleased to report we had no problems or downtime throughout the campaign and look forward to next weekend's voting."

Free2call, which provides local rate telephone numbers to call to place votes instead of using X Factor's 0901 premium rate numbers, transferred 5,000 votes on Saturday night and a further 5,000 on Sunday, before X Factor's lines closed at 8:30pm.

It had capped the amount of votes it could offer to 10,000 for the first voting stage of the talent show but hopes to increase the amount to 30,000 this week.

How is it free?

You dial an 03 number from the website and listen to a 15-second advert before being diverted to X Factor's official lines. You'll need to search the website weekly to check each act's specific number.

You'll only pay a local call rate to vote but as 03 numbers are part of landline and mobile phones inclusive call packages, you may pay nothing.

Anyone else, including those on pay as you go tariffs, will pay the cost of a local call. This is still substantially less than the typical 35p per minute charge from a landline by calling direct.

Part of the advertising revenue the website gains pays the full cost of the call, so X Factor doesn't lose out.

Is it legit?

Telecoms regulator Ofcom says "the service seems to be compliant with relevant rules". X Factor has confirmed votes will be counted using Free2call's service, provided callers hear the official voting confirmation at the end of the call.

A few MoneySavers reported hearing an engaged tone when transferred to the official X Factor lines.

It's now likely the service will be extended to other TV talent and reality shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, Big Brother, Britain's Got Talent and I'm a Celebrity.

Further reading/Key links

Slash call costs: Home Phones, Cheap Mobiles