0843, 0844, 0845, 0870 and 09 numbers will be illegal to use for customer service lines starting on the ominous date of Friday 13th June 2014. Recently the Environmental Agency were forced by David Cameron to change their 0845 number to a local rate 03 number after pressure from Which? brought on by the EA charging flood victims 41p a minute to call their help line.
This was a high profile case but almost all companies using these numbers will be affected come June.
So will you need to change and what are the choices?
Section 41 of the consumer contacts regulations state:
(1) Where a trader operates a telephone line for the purpose of consumers contacting the trader by telephone in relation to contracts entered into with the trader, a consumer contacting the trader must not be bound to pay more than the basic rate.
(2) If in those circumstances a consumer who contacts a trader in relation to a contract is bound to pay more than the basic rate, the contract is to be treated as providing for the trader to pay to the consumer any amount by which the charge paid by the consumer for the call is more than the basic rate.
Unless you are providing an additional service such as technical support that is paid for by the call charge you will have to comply. Your choices are:
03 UK wide
01 & 02 UK area code
These numbers still provide your company with the flexibility to take your number with you when you move office or to provide detailed reporting for each advertising campaign you run.
Companies using 0800 numbers will also have to offer a 03 alternative. This is because 0800 and 0808 numbers can cost up to 40p a minute from mobiles while 03 numbers are included in any inclusive minutes included in the mobile contract and are never charged anymore than it would cost to call from a land line.
The government had already replaced the 0845 numbers to HMRC with 03 numbers and plans to do the same across all departments due mainly to the good work of groups such as The Fair Telecoms Campaign and SayNoTo0870.com
We believe the new regulations make a lot of sense and give the consumer, who we all rely on, a better and fairer service that can only have a positive affect on the industry as a whole. We would never want to be associated with numbers that could mislead or confuse consumers whether intentional or not. It is for this reason we have decided to not provide 084xx , 0870 or 09 numbers full stop.
We provide 03 and 01/02 numbers from almost all UK area codes here as well as 0800 & 0808 numbers.
The new regulations can be found here