Will your 08 numbers be against the law?

On the 13th of June the Consumer Rights Directive will come into force and your 'service' and 'helpline' numbers may have to be charged to your customers at a 'basic rate'. The new directive will mean that it's against the law for you to only provide numbers like 0844 and 0870. Instead, you'll need to provide numbers such as those beginning 03 and 0800.
We believe that what your customers think about the numbers they're dialling should play an important part in your choice of new number. And, how you should approach the changeover.
We've also asked ICM, the famous political pollsters and market researchers, to find out more about what consumers currently think of the numbers they're asked to call.
Here's a round up of the why, where and what of the latest number changes. We're saving 'how' for the coming weeks, when we'll also publish the results of our number research by ICM.

Does it apply to you?
If you're selling goods, services or digital content to consumers the changes apply to you.
Financial services companies are not affected by this change. But, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is considering whether it could introduce similar measures for customers calling banks, insurance companies and investment brokers.
Currently there's no requirement for package holiday and timeshare companies to make a change either.
Some technical helplines may be exempt as well. This is as long as they're not using lines that customers are also expected to call to discuss problems with something that they've already bought.
The government also says that it's inappropriate for callers to pay high call charges for accessing vital public services and The Cabinet Office has already published guidance on this.
There are some other exceptions too. You'll find them in the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) Implementing Guidance document. Page 7 section B.

Why oh why?
In short the change is designed to stop businesses making money out of calls to service lines. At the moment they can collect some of the per minute call charges if customers come through on some 08 numbers and those beginning 09.
It's also hoped that the move will make the amount that consumers have to pay in call charges lower and more consistent.
It's being brought in with a raft of other consumer protection legislation as part of the Consumer Rights Directive.

What will change?
If you're covered by the directive you'll have to provide 'helpline' and 'service' numbers that are charged to your customers at a 'basic rate'.
What does 'basic rate' mean? Well, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills says: "the basic rate requirement means not charging more than a geographic or mobile rate. Consumers should generally expect to pay no more to phone a trader about something they have bought than to call a friend or relative."
Here's our rough guide to what's not OK number wise. If you're using any of them you'll need to provide a basic rate alternative:
  • 0843, 0844, 0845 – revenue sharing numbers
  • 0870 – older non-geographic number popular with businesses
  • 0871, 0872, 0873 – revenue sharing numbers
  • 09 – premium rate numbers
For more advice about what does and doesn't comply with the new directive, take another look at the BIS Implementing Guidance. Page 20 section J.

Which new numbers should you choose?
There are 4 big things to consider when choosing your new numbers:
  1. Whether they comply with the new directive
  2. How much they'll cost you
  3. How much they'll cost your customers
  4. What your customers actually think about the numbers
Here's a run down of the numbers that comply with the new directive. And, a rough guide to how much they'll cost you and your customers. We'll cover what customers actually think about the numbers in our next blog.

Number Description Typical cost to your customers Typical cost to you*
01
02
Standard geographic numbers. Calls from landlines typically charged up to 10p per minute. Calls from mobiles are between 10p - 40p per minute. For landlines there’s normally also a call set-up fee and call charges are dependent on the time of day. Most providers offer call packages that allow calls free of charge at certain times of the day. None 
030 Non-geographic number reserved for charities, not for profit organisations and public bodies. Calls cost no more than calls to geographic numbers (01 or 02). Calls from landlines are typically up to 10p per minute. Calls from mobiles can be as low as 3p per minute. Calls from landlines and mobiles are included in call packages. 2p per minute

0330
0333

 

Newer non-geographic numbers popular with businesses. Calls cost no more than calls to geographic numbers (01 or 02). Calls from landlines are typically up to 10p per minute. Calls from mobiles can be as low as 3p per minute. Calls from landlines and mobiles are included in call packages. 2p per minute

0344
0345
0370

Newer non-geographic numbers also popular with businesses. Companies with existing 0844, 0845, 0870 numbers may take the 03 equivalents (e.g. 0844 234 5678 will change to 0344 234 5678). These have been set aside for this purpose.

Calls cost no more than calls to geographic numbers (01 or 02). Calls from landlines are typically up to 10p per minute. Calls from mobiles can be as low as 3p per minute. Calls from landlines and mobiles are included in call packages. 2p per minute
07  Mobile numbers Between 5p and 32p per minute from landlines. Typically not included in landline free call packages. Calls from mobiles vary according to the package chosen. Typically they cost between 8p and 40p per minute. Calls between mobile phones are normally included in call packages.  None

0800
0808 

Freephone number. Calls are normally free from landlines but those from mobiles may cost. You must make an announcement telling the caller that they’ll be charged, although you don’t have to say how much. Calls from mobiles typically cost between 14p and 40p per minute. From June 2015 calls from mobiles will be free.  3.5p per minute
*Typical costs when a customer calls from a landline, doesn't include set up and line rental fees. 
You can find more information about how much calling these numbers will cost your customers in Ofcom's guide to numbers.

A good or bad thing for you?
Overall the changes should mean that your customers will be less confused and concerned about calling you as the cost of doing so will be clearer. But (and it's a big one) it's likely to cost you more. This is because you won't be able to collect call revenues for helpline and service calls. And, unless you opt for a non-geographic or mobile number, you'll have to pick up at least some of the cost of calls if you don't already do so.
Look out for our next blog on what consumers actually think about the new numbers. And, some tips on what to do to make sure your number changes happen at the minimum cost and with the maximum customer satisfaction.
by Rob. March 2014.
Last updated 12th June 2014
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