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Jun 27

Ofcom to End Call Cost Confusion

By admin | Uncategorised , Uncategorized

Hazy Issues & Vague Estimates

For far too long the issue of service call charges has, for many, remained a hazy area crammed with vague estimates of possible costs. In case you are unsure, ‘service phone numbers’ are those beginning with 03, 08 or 118 and are generally used by companies, organisations, directory enquiries and even TV shows. Terms such as ‘depending on your provider’ and ‘rates may vary’ typically left callers guessing as to what that famous, ‘pence per minute’ actually was. In a recent survey callers were asked questions specifically about call costs. We think you will agree that the results speak for themselves.

As illustrated the public’s awareness of service call costs varied dramatically. Uncertain? People certainly were.

(Survey taken June 2015 prior to Ofcom 1st July ruling)

  1. How much do you think an 03 number costs to call per min?

Less than 5p
Between 5p & 15p
More than 15P
 

  1. How much does it cost to call an 0808 number from a UK landline?

Free
Les than 10p
More than 10p

 

So, when it comes to uncertainty surrounding the cost of making a service call, the figures certainly did speak volumes.

1st July 2015 – clarity reigns

The introduction of Ofcom’s legislation regarding the clarity of call costs was launched on 1st July 2015. Knowing exactly the ‘pence per minute’ to call a service number before even dialling aims to remove unnecessary ambiguity for bill payers. From 1ST July 2015, all organisations must indicate the cost of calling these numbers.

How it works?

For Callers

Call costs are broken up into an ‘access charge’ and a ‘service charge’ – applied whether calling from a landline or mobile. Both charges will appear on your bill. Final billing is calculated by:

Access Charge + Service Charge = Total Call Cost

Access Charge – this goes to your phone service provider. It can be found on your bill and can be clarified by contacting your telephone company.

Service Charge – this is established by the company you are calling. When you see the number advertised, you should find the ‘service charge’ too.

Sounds like common sense doesn’t it?

For Businesses

Business owners must be fully aware of what the Ofcom legislation means. You will find a comprehensive guide to corporate effects at www.ukcalling.info

However, we have also highlighted the steps you should have taken in order to conform. 

If you use an 084, 087, 09 or 118 you should:

  • Contact your phone number provider – addressing how changes may affect your business.
  • Confirm all service charges with your TCP
  • Question if service charges are still suitable or consider changing your telephone number(s).
  • Ensure all advertising material clearly displays call costs. Ofcom recommend the following wording:

‘Calls cost xp [or xp per minute] plus your phone company’s access charge’.

FREE means FREE

Previousy, ‘freephone’ numbers, 0800 and 0808, have on occasion still carried charges and were excluded from some free mobile minute packages. However on the 1st July 2015, free actually means FREE, from a mobile or landline.

Will recent legislation achieve the desired effect of greater call cost clarity? For now, only time and a new survey hold the answer.