Telephone call charges to be made simpler

by Martin Chapman

From July this year if you provide numbers beginning 08, 09 or 118 for your customers to call you on then how you advertise those numbers is changing. The aim is to simplify the cost for consumers. For years we have been used to hearing that “calls to this number will cost X from a BT landline and calls from a mobile will be significantly higher” but for those using providers other than BT it has been unclear. Now due to changes the telephone regulator Ofcom is implementing, the cost of calling a number beginning 08, 09 or 118 will be made up of two components.

  • The access charge – this will be charged by your customers telephone provider; and
  • The service charge – this will be charged by your business (via your telephone provider).

The idea is that customers will clearly understand, regardless of who their telephone provider is, what the cost of calling will be. At the same time calling Freephone numbers (which begin 0800, 0808 and 116) will become free from mobile phones. Previously some mobile operators charged whilst others didn’t.

The idea of this change is well intentioned but how many consumers will really remember or check what their telephone provider is charging for the access charge? We will have to wait and see on that.

As businesses there are a few things we need to be doing. Firstly if we use telephone numbers beginning 08, 09 or 118 then we must clearly advise what the cost of calling this number will be on all communications where this number appears – including website and email. If it is included on your letterhead and other business stationery this will need considering sooner rather than later. Ofcom have advised that they expect to see the following wording:

“Calls will cost X pence per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.”

As always there is an opportunity available for businesses. If you currently supply a Freephone number for your customers to call you on make sure you clearly state that the call is free from landlines and mobile phones. It will help encourage customers to pick up the phone.

The new rules kick in from 1st July 2015 so make sure you’re prepared and if in doubt about what it will cost for your customers to call you on 08, 09 or 118 speak to your telephone provider. It might be the opportunity to encourage them to reduce the cost or perhaps to look elsewhere.


Martin Chapman

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