If your business calls or publishes Non Geographic Numbers (08, 09 and 118 numbers) for customer contact then you should already be aware of the changes that came into force in July this year.
Ofcom’s intention was to make the costs to call these numbers much clearer for consumers.
In summary there were 3 main changes:
- The cost to call these numbers (084, 087, 09 and 118) now consists of an Access charge and a Service charge. (The Access charge being set by the caller’s provider and the Service charge set by the original range holder of the number.)
- Businesses using these numbers must display the cost to call on all external advertising
- Freephone 080 numbers are now free from mobiles as well as Landlines. The number owner will incur additional costs to receive these calls from mobiles.
Previously, charges varied wildly as they were set by the caller’s landline or mobile provider, and featured complex charge bands for different number categories that rarely reflected the true costs. As such it simply wasn’t possible for the advertiser of the number to state precise charges as they couldn’t know what a caller would be charged.
There is a useful video that explains the changes on the UK Calling site set up by Ofcom at https://www.ukcalling.info. However, although it states that the Service charge is set by the organisation you are calling, this isn’t really the case as service charges are actually set by the Carrier that originally owned the number range. Organisations can’t adjust this charge unless they go ahead and change the number.
This new legislation set out to resolve this but are consumers any clearer?
There are still many businesses that are advertising 084 and 087 numbers without displaying the costs to call, and it remains to be seen how tough the Advertising Standard Authority will be with these companies. We have already seen a marked shift towards the use of 03 numbers, both taking the 03 equivalent (0844 1234567 becomes 0344 1234567) or taking a completely new 033 number. These numbers must be charged to consumers at their normal UK rate to call 01 and 02 numbers, and also included in any bundled minute packages so that they won’t be impacted by the Ofcom regulations.
Other businesses have continued to publish Freephone numbers and have accepted the additional cost to receive calls from mobiles. Consumers are becoming more aware that these are now truly free to call, so if you are trying to encourage customer contact as part of your sales activities, then it’s almost certainly worth the additional cost to attract new business.