These days, almost all organisations, companies and directory enquiries calls are contactable using a service number, generally starting in 08, 09 or118.
The biggest change to telephone calls in over a decade
Despite the widespread use of these numbers, both the industry and the general public have come to realise that the cost of a call to these non-geographic numbers is often quite difficult to determine.
However, since the 1st July 2015 a new system of charging and promotion of these numbers has been introduced across the UK, ensuring that the cost of calling these services numbers is clear to all.
This newly-introduced OFCOM initiative, coined ‘UK Calling’, is said to be the biggest change to telephone calls in over a decade.
So if your business uses 08, 09 or 118 telephone numbers for any purpose, then read on to find out exactly what’s happening and how it will affect your business.
HOW IT WORKS…
Since the 1st July 2015, the cost of calling service numbers is made up of two parts, an access charge and a service charge.
The access charge will go to the caller’s phone company (i.e. BT, Sky, TalkTalk), and will be charged on a pence per minute basis. The access charge rate for calls to service numbers will be advised to consumers by their service provider and the cost will be made clear on phone bills and any future contracts they receive.
The service charge will vary depending on the organisation that you are calling and will be set by the TCP (Terminating Call Provider). The organisation you are calling will be expected to inform you, anywhere the number is publicly listed, of their service charge and that your phone company will levy an additional access charge.
All businesses using consumer numbers starting in 084, 087, 09 and 118 across the UK will have to abide by these new rules, making their call rates clear to everyone.
This ruling does not, however, affect ordinary landline numbers (01, 02, 03) or mobile 07 numbers. If you are calling from a payphone, making international calls or calling the UK from abroad you will not be affected either.
In addition, all Freephone numbers beginning in 0800 or 0808 will be free for consumers to call from both landline and mobile phones. Previously, Freephone numbers had been free to call from a landline but could cost between 14p to 40p from mobiles. However, now these new rules are in place, Freephone will finally be 100% free.
It should be noted that if you currently use Freephone numbers there is a strong possibility that you will see a spike in your Freephone costs as you will now be liable for the charge for consumers calling you from their mobiles too.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT BUSINESSES?
If your business uses non-geographic numbers, then the ruling detailed above will apply to you. From now on, wherever you publish a service number you will need to ensure that it is accompanied by information detailing the service charge for calling these numbers.
This applies anywhere that your number is publicly advertised. Examples include (but are not limited to), your website, email signatures, online advertising, leaflets, brochures, letterheads, business cards, directories, billboards and any signage.
Failure to comply with these directives could result in a hefty fine from the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), who have been tasked with policing and enforcing these new rules on behalf of OFCOM.
HOW TO MAKE THESE CHANGES
You should contact your TCP and find out how the changes will affect your organisation and confirm the cost of the service charge that is linked to the numbers that you currently use.
Once you are happy with the service charge you should then review all of your marketing and advertising channels – essentially anywhere that you’ve advertised your ‘non-geographic’ numbers – and ensure that that the service charge is clearly displayed.
At BDM Voice, one of our core offerings is the setup and maintenance of both geographic and non-geographic numbers. If you require any assistance with changing your service numbers, setting up new numbers, finding out more about business voip systems or would just like to find out more about these important changes, then contact us on 0333 202 9897 or email email@example.com, and we’d be more than happy to help.