Ready for the changes to 0845, 0870 and 0800 numbers? | DMA

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Ready for the changes to 0845, 0870 and 0800 numbers?

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The end of 0845 and 0870 is upon us as part of a major shake-up of customer service phone lines. From June 2014 it will be illegal to use 0845, 0870 and other non-geographical numbers for lines that deal with customer complaints, enquiries, renewals and cancellations.

The rules regarding 0800 numbers are also changing in 2015. From June 2015 freephone numbers such as 0800 and 0808 will become free for people calling from a mobile.

The changes to 0845 and other non-geographical numbers, which are part of the Consumer Rights Directive, were implemented into UK law in December 2013 and will come into force in June 2014.

Some businesses are already organising the switch to a geographical number and updating their literature, but for those of you still unsure about what you need to do ahead of the June deadline, here’s a reminder:
What are the options?
• Switch to a geographical numbers (eg 01, 02)
• Switch to a 03 number – this has the same technological benefits of the non-geographical 0845 and 0870 numbers

See the table below for details of what you need to do (click on the table to enlarge it).

Number you currently use What you need to do
0800 + 0808 You can continue to offer a 0800 + 0808 number for customers calling in from landlines but you will also need to have a basic rate number, 01, 02 or 03 for customers calling in from a mobile phone. This is because 0800 +0808 numbers dialled from a mobile phone will still incur premium rate charges and this will not be allowed.
01 numbers e.g. Stevenage 01438 No changes necessary.
02 numbers e.g. London 020 No changes necessary.
Any number beginning with 084 or 087, for example 0844 or 0870 or premium rate numbers beginning with 09 These numbers will no longer be available for customer service lines. You must provide a 01, 02 or 03 number.

Should I switch to a 03 or 01/02 number?

It’s probably simpler to switch to a 03 number as it just requires changing the 8 for a 3 – eg 0845 becomes 0345. Check with your service provider because the chances are you should own the 03 version of the number as part of your contract. This will make adapting your literature easier too, as you’re just changing one digit.

What are my obligations under the new law?
From June 2014, the cost to call your customer service line should be no more than the basic rate. If you continue to charge more than the basic rate for calls, you will have to pay the customer the difference between the actual cost of the call and the basic rate. In addition, Weights and Measures teams in local Trading Standards Departments can pursue a complaint made to them under the Regulations and seek undertakings or apply for injunctions to enforce the new law.

What do the changes to 0800 numbers mean for my business?
From June 2015, freephone numbers (0800, 0808 and 116) will be free for mobile phone users too. At present they cost mobile callers between 14p and 40p per minute. This means that the business who owns the number will be charged by its network operator – a big worry for charities and similar organisations that use 0800 to collect donations.

What is the DMA doing about freephone numbers?
In our submission to Ofcom we stated: “The DMA would strongly suggest that the only way to make this change fairer on all parties is to set a reasonable cap on the charge for a call to a 080 number from any phone, whether mobile, landline or telephone box. This will ensure that both the consumer and the business know the cost to use the 080 range.”

Ofcom explained in a recent meeting with the DMA that it is awaiting information from the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) as to what those charges would be. This information is likely to be published in late summer this year.

Ofcom also confirmed in a statement that it is also imposing an access condition on terminating communications providers which will ensure that the commercial terms, including charges, for connecting such calls are fair and reasonable to all parties.

By Mike Lordan, Chief of Operations, DMA

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