Changes to non-geographic call charges

We’ve all seen it, the small print on adverts and TV shows under the non-geographic number saying ‘Calls cost 20p per minute from a BT landline. Other landlines may vary and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more.’ Great if you have a BT landline but not so helpful if you are calling from anywhere else.

In response to research showing that people are confused by how charging for service numbers works, Ofcom are bringing in changes to make it all a little clearer.

From the 1st July onwards the rate you pay per minute to call numbers beginning with 084, 087, 09 and 118 will consist of two parts:

Part 1 – The Access Charge – This part is determined by whoever bills you for your calls (such as Deep Blue)

Part 2 – The Service charge – This part is determined by Ofcom based on the number prefix

So what does this mean for you? From July 1st onwards any company using an 084, 087, 09 or 118  number will have to change the wording of their small print to make callers aware of both parts of the non-geographic call charge e.g. ‘Calls cost x pence per minute, plus your providers access charge.’

084, 087, 09 Number Change

As of 13th June telephone numbers starting with the prefixes 084, 087 and 09 (such as 0845, 0843, 0871, 0872 and 09 numbers) cannot be used to provide customer service and complaint lines! This is due to a change in legislation that says customers should not pay anymore than the basic rate for non-geographic calls.

When a trader runs a telephone line used for customers to contact them about existing contracts they have with the trader, they should not pay anymore than the basic rate. Traders may still use ’08’ numbers but must offer an alternative.

One fairly simple alternative is to simply change over the ’08’ for an ’03’ number.
(eg 0845 123 1234 would now be 0345 123 1234)

Contact us on 0333 240 9100 for more details!


Ofcom leaves users free to switch

Thanks to new Ofcom rules, users will now be able to exit mobile, landline or broadband contracts without facing penalties if the monthly price is increased.

Providers will now have to give at least 30 days notice of any increase in monthly subscription prices to end users. If the user then decides to switch, they will not have to pay any termination charges. The rules will also apply if the provider keeps the monthly price the same but decreases the number of minutes/amount of data included in the package.

The change follows Ofcom’s investigations of over 1000 complaints, which found that many providers had increased their prices having originally promised ‘fixed-price’ deals.

ASA limits ads – up to a point!

At last the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has taken action to put an end to two aspects of so called self-regulation for Internet Service Providers.

From 1st April 2012 the ASA will be clamping down on the way UK ISPs use the terms ‘up to’ and ‘unlimited’ in promotional materials. The changes don’t just relate to consumer broadband products, but also business-to-business broadband, which makes the issue critical for the broadband providers to get to grips with; excluding of course, Deep Blue who always confirm the expected up to and download speeds on a new service.

ASA consider that any ‘up to’ maximum speed descriptions should be based on the actual experience of users and therefore anyone offering broadband should be able to demonstrate that the speeds they claim can be achieved by a reasonable proportion (at least 10%) of customers. Use of the term ‘unlimited’ meanwhile, has been a contentious issue for several years. If the customer incurs any extra charge or traffic management as a consequence of exceeding usage thresholds, then the term ‘unlimited’ cannot be used.

Personally we feel this action was long overdue but even now consider the new ‘up to’ rules to be particularly weak. An up to 20Mg service where only 10% of users actually get anywhere close to the speed is pretty pathetic many would say. It means 90% do not.

The use of ‘unlimited’ however seems to have far less wriggle room and is welcome. Unlimited should mean just that. If you can’t deliver unlimited for a set price then say so up front and stop ducking and diving.

Look out for subtle changes for future Ads on the box as these new rules come into effect next month.