Ofcom Make Call Costs Clearer

1st July Ends Confusion

As you are probably aware, the cost of making calls to the services numbers 08, 09 or 118 has long been the cause of much confusion. However, thanks to the regulator ‘Ofcom’ recent changes thankfully mean that callers now have the cost information they require before even dialling.

Ofcom are working alongside telecom companies to reduce the ambiguity surrounding such call costs – making life easier for the consumer and the organisations receiving 08, 09 or 118 service calls.

So, how does this Ofcom legislation effect both callers and businesses?

What are Service Numbers?

Before exploring the effects of 1st July legislation, it is probably best to examine what ‘service numbers’ actually are? Service Numbers typically begin with an 08, 09 or 118 and are commonly used by companies, organisations, directory enquiries and some TV shows.

At-a-glance consumer calculation

Call costs are now broken up into two parts of the ‘access charge’ and the ‘service charge’. These apply whether calling from a landline or mobile, and both will feature on your bill. Charges can be calculated by:

Access Charge + Service Charge = Total Call Cost

Please note that the ‘access charge’ goes to your phone service provider and can be found on your bill. The ‘service charge’ is established by the company you are actually calling.

When you see the number advertised, you should also find the ‘service charge’ too.

Now 0800 & 0808 FREEPHONE actually are FREE-to-Phone

Despite being described as, ‘freephone’, 0800 and 0808 prefixes have previously still been open to a charge. Many allocated mobile minute packages even excluded them – making such calls far from free. Refreshingly from 1st July 2015, free actually means FREE – from a mobile or landline.

Let’s talk figures

Numbers which will be affected are 084, 087, 09 & 118.

Numbers which will not be affected are 01, 02, 03 & mobile 07 numbers.

Payphone calls will not be affected either. Calls made to the UK when roaming overseas, plus any international calls will not see any changes.

Call Cost Example

Based on cost statistics gathered by Ofcom (7th July 2014), here is how the picture looked:

(Please be aware of influential factors such as time of day, call plans & the exact number dialled.)

0800 & 0808 = these were normally free from landlines but charges applies to some mobiles, typically from 7p to 40p per minute. (Thankfully, since 1st July 2015 free means they are FREE from landlines and mobiles)

01 & 02 (local numbers) = 8p to 40p per min. from mobiles & 9p per min. from landlines plus set-up fee.

03 = cost no more than an 01/ 02 and unlike 0800 & 0808 they have always been included in free mobile & landline packages.

0845 = typically charged at 1p to 12p per min. for landlines plus a set-up fee & 5p to 40p per min. from mobiles.

0870 = up to 10p per min. from landlines plus a set-up fee & 5p to 40p from mobiles

0871/2/3 = 11p to 15p per min. from landlines (plus set-up fee) & from 5p to 40p per min. from mobiles.

09 = typically charged between 9p and £1.69 per min. 09s can be charged up to approximately £2.95 per min. by some landline providers. Mobile callers could be charged from 75p up to £3 per min.

118 = from a landline or mobile the charges can be from 50p up to £4 one-off charge plus additional charges of up to £5 per minute.

Ofcom’s July guidelines will certainly go a long way to creating a much clearer picture of what calls will not rather than what they are likely to.

Calling all businesses

Businesses must be fully conversant with what 1st July legislation means to you and your company. You will find a comprehensive guide to corporate and domestic effects at www.ukcalling.info. In the meantime we have highlighted the process all organisations using relevant service numbers should now be taking.

If you use an 084, 087, 09 or 118 there are some simple yet vital steps you will need to take which are:

Step 1. Contact your phone number provider. Ask your TCP how changes may affect your business.

Step 2. Confirm all service charges with your TCP.

Step 3. Ask yourself – are those service charges are still suitable? If not, changing your telephone number(s) could be the way to go.

Step 4. Review all advertising material from your website to corporate literature, ensuring that call costs are clearly displayed using Ofcom recommend wording:

‘Calls cost xp [or xp per minute] plus your phone company’s access charge’.

Still Unsure?

Give the Number Supermarket team a call on 0330 332 0400 – we’re always happy to help.