Every day, people use service numbers (which start 08, 09 or 118) to make calls to companies and organisations. From the 1st July 2015, Ofcom (the communications regulator) introduced new rules to the way consumers are charged for calling service numbers. Ofcom believes that the changes will make the costs more transparent and easier for consumers to understand.

What are the changes?

  1. All Freephone numbers (beginning 0800 or 0808) are now free to call from UK mobiles as well as UK landlines.
    If your business or organisation is contacted on a Freephone number, a higher rate will apply to calls to your 080 number that come from mobiles.
  2. The cost to call numbers beginning 084, 087, 09 or 118 is now made up to two parts.

You may recall seeing information about the cost of calls looking something like this:
“Calls cost 20p per minute from a BT landline. Other landlines may vary and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more.”
This makes it hard to know the cost, unless you happen to be calling from a BT landline.

Since 1st July 2015, the two parts of the cost to call are:

  1. An access charge: This is set by the caller’s phone provider.
    This part of the call charge is an unregulated pence per minute cost. The access charge for calls to service numbers should be made clear on bills and contracts.
  2. A service charge: This part of the call charge is regulated and set by the phone company that operates the number.

Let’s take an example:

The consumers phone company charges 9p per minute for calls to service numbers – this is their access charge. The service charge for the number you provide for the consumer to call is 10p per minute. The consumer would see call charge information like this:
“Calls cost 10p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.”
And in this case, the call would cost 19p per minute – 10p per minute (the service charge), plus 9p per minute (the access charge)

What do I need to do?

If your business or organisation is contacted on a number beginning 084, 087, 09 or 118, you must ensure that your service charge is clearly displayed wherever you advertise or promote that number. Review all your promotional materials, websites and advertising. The service charge should be prominent and in close proximity to the number itself in all cases.

Check wording – as an example, a statement along the lines of “Calls will cost 13 pence per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge” is likely to be considered compliant, but to be sure you should seek individual advice from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and visit the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) website for information.

How can Noise help?

This is an ideal opportunity to review all contact numbers for your business. We are happy to discuss any aspect of these changes with you, including migrating to other number ranges.

UK Calling is a campaign lead by Ofcom to help explain the changes they have required to be made. More detail can be found on the UK Calling website www.ukcalling.info/industry