Recently, Ofcom introduced changes to how non-geographic service numbers will be charged. These changes have been put in place to make it clearer to consumers how much they are being charged when they dial a service number.
These changes were introduced on July 1st, 2015.
What are the new regulations?
As from 1 July 2015, in accordance with Ofcom requirements:
- All 080 (freephone) numbers will be free to call from UK mobiles as well as from UK landlines.
- If you use 080 numbering, a higher rate will apply to inbound calls that do not originate from landlines
- The cost of calling service numbers will be made up of two parts:
- An access charge: This part of the call charge goes to your phone company, charged as pence per minute. They will tell you how much the access charge will be for calls to service numbers. It will be made clear on bills and when you take out a contract.
- A service charge: This is the rest of the call charge. The organisation you are calling decides this, and will tell you how much it is.
- All 084, 087 and 09 ranges (including 0845 and 0870) will have new charges (and revenue shares), which will be set at the number-range level (e.g. 0844 482, 0845 092). The rates on 084 may not exceed 7ppm (inc VAT), and on 087 may not exceed 13ppm (inc VAT). 09 numbers may not exceed £3.60 per minute or £6 per call maximum. Callers to these numbers will be charged the service charge for the number range (e.g. 7ppm for 0844 482) plus an access charge set by their phone company (whether landline or mobile).
- 0870 and 0845 will cease to be included in bundled minutes.
- The service provider (i.e. your organisation) will be required to state the applicable service charge wherever a service number is published – e.g. website, catalogue, brochure, letterhead, email, business card etc. This must be of the style ‘Calls to this number cost n pence per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge.
What do I need to do?
There are a number of actions that you should take in preparation for this change:
- If you publish 084, 087 and 09 numbers, check with your service provider to find out how much callers will be charged to call your telephone numbers.
- Review all your promotional materials, website and advertising. Wherever you advertise or promote these numbers, you must ensure that the relevant service charge is displayed in a prominent position, and in close proximity to the telephone number in all cases.
- For example, a statement along the lines of “Calls will cost 5 pence per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge” is likely to be compliant. Please seek advice from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and visit the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practise) website for information about the types of marketing materials you need to update.
- The new arrangements do not require any telephone numbers to change. However, you may decide that this is an appropriate time to move to an 03 number as the cost of calling 03 numbers is included in all 01/02 landline bundles and therefore does not require the printed cost warning
Questions and Answers
Q1: Does this include business cards, job advertisements, etc?
Yes. The service provider (i.e. your organisation) will be required to state the applicable service charge wherever a service number is published – e.g. website, catalogue, brochure, letterhead, email, business card etc. This must be of the style ‘Calls to this number cost 7 pence per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge’.
Q2: What if we don’t comply ?
1. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) would make formal contact to request that you bring your advertising in line and make it compliant.
2. If there was no change after an acceptable period of time, they would launch a formal investigation where they would look if the material was misleading because the prices are not included.
3. Eventually, the ASA might publicise the non-compliant company in a dedicated section of their website and attempt to have the advertising materials withdrawn until they have been made compliant.