Ofcom Introduce Change to Call Charging

On the 1st of July 2015 Ofcom introduced a significant change in the way consumers are charged for dialling service telephone numbers (that’s any number beginning with 08408709 or 118). In order to make things clearer for callers, organisations are now required to state a totally new charging structure wherever they advertise such numbers. Before the 1st July, calls to service numbers tended to be advertised in a certain way:

“Calls cost 20p per minute from a BT landline. Other landlines may vary and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more.”

After research was conducted to reveal how consumers respond to such call charges, it was found that they were not clear about the true cost. They also, quite rightly, were unclear about where exactly their money goes when they make a particular call.

 

Call charge changes

How Has the Charging Structure Changed?

Access Charge

Charges for calling service numbers are now made up of two parts: The access charge and the service charge. The access charge is the charge dictated by the caller’s phone provider. This is a pence per minute charge. Phone providers must make these charges clear on bills and when new contracts are set up. As an example, most EE mobile users will pay around 45 pence/min as an access charge.

Service Charge

The service charge is dictated by the organisation receiving the call. This can be a pence per minute, or a pence per call charge. This charge must be displayed, wherever service numbers are advertised. Organisations using service numbers should assess which numbers they use, and where they are advertised, whether this be on websites, email footers, or marketing material. Organisations should also make it clear to consumers that an access charge exists, and that this is dictated by their phone provider.

Under the new system: the information provided in conjunction with a service number might be something like this: “Calls to this number are charged at 20 pence per call (excludes VAT) in addition to your phone company’s access charge.”

Changes to freephone numbers

Along with the new system for service numbers, Ofcom have also made changes to the way freephone numbers are charged. Under the old system freephone numbers (0800 and 0808 numbers) were generally only free when called from a landline. Now however, free phone numbers have become free to call from all UK mobiles and landlines. This is another change that attempts to make things clear and fair for consumers.

For more information see UK Calling.

Nexbridge customers who are using service numbers for inbound calls will have received communications from their Nexbridge account manager regarding the service charge rates that are applicable to their inbound numbers. Nexbridge has also contacted its customers regarding access charges for outbound calls to service numbers.