Dave Millet explains what you should do to prepare for Ofcom’s new service number rules
UK Calling, one of the biggest changes to the cost of telecoms calls in a decade, comes into force on July 1, but very few are ready for it.
Last year, the use of service numbers such as 0845 and 0870 for post-sales customer support was banned in consumer businesses. However, the rules didn’t address the cost of these calls for other uses, resulting in unexpected call bills for some callers.
Many were confused by the plethora of 08 numbers in use and didn’t realise that certain numbers beginning with 07 were not mobile numbers but actually premium rate lines.
UK Calling aims to clear things up. From 1 July 2015, the cost of calling service numbers from residential lines and consumer mobiles will be made up of two parts:
1 An access charge, which goes to the caller’s phone company. This will be made clear on the caller’s bills and when they take out a contract with a telecoms provider; and
2 A service charge, which makes up the remainder of the call charge. The organisation being called sets this price and must tell the caller what it is and display it clearly wherever the number is advertised or promoted so that callers can see how much money they are making on the call.
From July 1, when a business promotes a service number, it will show the service charge, but not the access charge, which will have been agreed between the caller and their phone service provider when taking out a contract.
The change applies to all consumer calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers across the UK, but not to legacy 0500 numbers or to calls to ordinary landline numbers (01, 02, 03), mobile numbers (07), international calls, calls made from payphones, or calls to the UK when roaming overseas.
In addition, all Freephone numbers (0800 or 0808) are being made free to call from both mobiles and landlines.
What to do next
If your business makes use of service Dave Millet explains what you should do to prepare for Ofcom’s new service number rules numbers, you should:
Speak to the supplier of your 08 or 09 telephone numbers and ask them to confirm the access charges. The changes could cause your bills to rise, particularly if you use an 0800 number.
Decide if you want to keep using these numbers or switch to Geographic 01/02/03 numbers.
Review all your marketing literature, including websites, TV/ radio adverts, point of sale and packaging. If any publicise a number beginning 084, 087, 09 or 118, you must ensure that your service charge is clearly displayed.
If you are a consumer who has paid extra for 0800 calls to be included in your mobile package, you should ensure the charge is removed, as from July 1 calls to 0800 numbers from a mobile will be free.
As always, there is no excuse for ignorance. More information is available at www.ukcalling.info, a dedicated website set up by Ofcom to publicise the new rules. Dave Millett runs Equinox, a leading independent brokerage and consultancy firm that has helped many companies, charities and other organisations achieve savings of up to 80% on their telecoms.