FAQs FOR BUSINESS
What is changing and why?
If your organisation uses a ‘non-geographic’ service number for people to contact you – that’s one beginning 08, 09 or 118 – you need to be aware of major changes to how these numbers are charged.
The new system will enable organisations to say how much calls to them will cost. The changes have been implemented from 1st July 2015 under the strapline ‘UK Calling’. The communications regulator Ofcom is working with major phone companies to communicate the changes to consumers.
In future, the cost to the consumer of calling a service number (starting 084, 087, 09 or 118) will be split into two clear parts:
- An access charge. This goes to the caller’s telephone company.
- A service charge. This is the remainder; it includes any revenue going to the service provider (that is you, the party being called), as well as revenue going to the ‘terminating call provider’ (the company which provides the number to you).
In another change happening at the same time, all Freephone numbers beginning 0800 or 0808 are being made free for consumers to call from mobile phones, just as they usually are from landlines.
These changes are expected to bring greater clarity to the cost of calls and improve confidence in a system which phone users have said they find confusing and unclear. This will also benefit organisations which use these numbers, by introducing greater confidence into the market.
Which numbers are affected?
The numbers where access and service charges will apply are those beginning 0843, 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871, 0872, 0873, 09, and 118.
Freephone numbers beginning 0800 or 0808 will be made free from mobiles.
Which numbers are affected?
Consumers have said they find the current system confusing, not least because each telephone company selects its own level and structure of prices – per call, per minute, and varying depending whether they are included in call bundles. This has resulted in the market not working well for consumers or the organisations being called.
Is there a simple guide to what I need to do?
You will also find detailed information on the changes on this website.
When do the changes come into effect?
All the changes have been implemented from 1st 2015.
Why are you telling people now?
For the telecoms industry, the new charging system requires major structural changes. Ofcom, the communications regulator, is working with telephone companies to ensure they are prepared.
Organisations which use non-geographic/special service numbers to allow people to contact them will have to give details of the cost of calling on certain print and online material, some of which may have long lead times to produce. Therefore it is important to give everyone involved as much notice as possible to enable them to prepare for the changes.
Will every piece of material which promotes my contact number need to carry details of the cost of calls. Who will enforce this?
PhonepayPlus and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will continue to regulate this area. More information is available on their websites, including details about what types of material falls within their remit.
The 084 number range, and any 087 numbers with a service charge of less than 7p per minute (or 7p if the call has a fixed per-call charge), will be regulated by the ASA.
The 09 and 118 number ranges, as well as any 087 numbers with a service charge of 7p per minute (or a 7p fixed per-call charge or higher), will be regulated by PhonepayPlus (all figures are inclusive of VAT).
What happens if I don’t include this information on everything from the day the changes come into force? Will there be penalties?
PhonepayPlus and the Advertising Standards Authority will be responsible for enforcing the requirements for including service charge information. More information about their penalties for non-compliance is available on their websites (and the website of the ASA’s sister body the Committee of Advertising Practice – www.cap.org.uk)
My business uses numbers affected by the access and service charges. We currently do not have to publish pricing information in adverts. Will that change?
Yes, in future you will need to include information about the cost of the service charge for calling these numbers in adverts and website. This will bring these numbers into line with other non-geographic numbers.
Can I keep my current number(s)?
Yes. There is no requirement to change the numbers you use. You may wish to consult with your terminating call provider – the company that provides you with call services.
Will the cost of calling the number(s) I use change?
If you use a number starting 0800 or 0808, this will become free to call for consumers from mobile phones.
For the other affected number ranges, the ‘access charge’ element of the call will be determined by the caller’s telephone provider. Because the access charge will apply across the different non-geographic number ranges, there may be a small change in the overall cost of some calls.
You will be advised of the service charge which will apply to your contact number by your terminating call provider – the company that provides you with call services – ahead of the implementation of the changes. Ofcom expects service charge price points to be made available which match the existing cost of calls to your number.
I currently receive a share of the revenue from calls. Will I have to disclose how much I receive from each call?
You will not be obliged to disclose how much you receive from a call. However, you will have to disclose the service charge for the call. The service charge is the sum of all revenue from the call which is not retained by the caller’s telephone company. The service charge will be the same from all telephones, and the level will usually be set for a given block of numbers allocated by Ofcom (usually these are in blocks of 10,000 numbers blocks). You will need to talk to your terminating call provider – the company that provides you with call services – to determine what the service charge will be for your existing numbers.
Are you going to impose caps on the price of calls to certain numbers?
Calls to numbers starting 0800 and 0808 will be free to call for consumers. There will be caps on the maximum amount of the service charge for the other affected non-geographic numbers, with the exception of 118 directory-enquiry numbers, with the caps varying according to the number range. The 084 and 087 ranges will be capped at 7p and 13p respectively (per minute or as a fixed fee and including VAT). The 09 range will be capped at £3 per minute and £5 per call (including VAT).
What changes are being made to Freephone numbers?
Calls to numbers starting 0800 or 0808 will be made free to call for consumers from mobiles, just as they typically are from landlines.
Who will meet the cost of Freephone calls from mobiles?
The recipient of the call will be responsible for paying for the call, just as they are for calls from landlines at present. The origination charge for the call will be subject to regulation that requires it to be fair and reasonable. Ofcom has set out guidance as to how this should be interpreted.
There may be an increased cost of operating an 0800 or 0808 number, but the size of the increase will depend on the balance of fixed and mobile calls you receive. Your terminating call provider – the company that provides you with call services – can provide advice on this.
How much does a call from a mobile to a Freephone number currently cost?
At present, calls to Freephone numbers from mobiles typically cost between 14p and 40p per minute.
Will 0500 numbers become free to call from mobiles?
0500 is a legacy Freephone number range. 0500 numbers are not part of these changes and calls from mobiles to these numbers may still be charged for. The 0500 range is under review and Ofcom has proposed in a consultation to provide a migration path for service providers currently using 0500 numbers to allow them to move to 080.
Making calls from business phones
Will access and service charges apply to calls made from business lines to non-geographic numbers?
Most businesses make outbound calls to 08, 09 or 118 numbers. The new charging system (the access and service charges) applies to calls made from residential lines and consumer mobile phones. However, Ofcom anticipates that providers may extend the same pricing arrangements to business customers. You should speak to the phone company which provides services to your business about this.
Can I insist that my phone provider applies the access and service charge regime to my business landline or mobile phone?
The tariff package for your business contract for non-geographic calls will be subject to the same type of negotiation that occurs when you are signing up to, or renewing, your tariff package as a whole. Therefore, you can make this request to your phone provider as part of that negotiation. However, there will be no obligation on providers to apply the access charge and service charge structure.