Guide for businesses to the UK Calling changes
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.
Research has found that telephone users are confused about how much it costs to call service numbers. This means people can lack confidence in these numbers, and sometimes avoid using them.
The new system enables organisations to say how much calls to them will cost. The changes have been implemented on 1 July 2015 under the strapline ‘UK Calling’. The communications regulator Ofcom has worked with major phone companies to communicate the changes to consumers.
This makes it hard to know the cost, unless you happen to be calling from a BT landline.
The cost to the consumer of calling a service number (starting 084, 087, 09 or 118) must now be made up of two clear parts:
- An access charge. This goes to the caller’s telephone company, charged as pence per minute.
- 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’ (or TCP: the company that provides the number to you).
In another change happening at the same time, all Freephone numbers beginning 0800 or 0808 were made free for consumers to call from mobile phones, just as they usually were from landlines.
What you need to do
Speak to the company that provides your 08 or 09 telephone number. If you haven't done so already, you may wish to discuss with your TCP how the changes affect your organisation and the way you use service numbers.
Ask them to confirm the service charge for your number or numbers. Your TCP should be able to let you know the service charge linked to the number or numbers you currently use.
Decide if the service charge is suitable. If you are not happy with the service charge linked to the number or numbers you currently use, you may need to consider changing your telephone number(s).
Review all your materials and advertising. If your business or organisation is contacted on a number beginning 084, 087, 09 or 118, you must ensure that your service charge is clearly displayed wherever you advertise or promote that number. The service charge should be prominent and in close proximity to the number itself. The recommended form of wording is:
“Calls cost xp [or xp per minute] plus your phone company's access charge.”This is likely to mean that your service charge should be provided alongside the related number in all communications directed towards current or potential users of the service, where the use of the number is promoted or advertised. These communications are likely to include as a minimum:
- Any broadcast advertisements on television or radio;
- Any press advertising;
- Any online advertising, including paid-for search listings;
- Advertising bill boards and posters;
- Public notices, press releases and other public relations material which promotes access to the service offered on the numbers, or promotes contact with the organisation using the number;
- Point of sale displays and other fixed advertising;
- Packages, wrappers, labels, tickets, timetables and price lists;
- Service directories; and
- Company websites.
If you use a Freephone number to be contacted, you may wish to discuss with your TCP the implications of calls to your organisation becoming free from mobile phones.
Dialling service 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. Phone operators will continue to have flexibility over how they charge for these calls from business phones.