14 Apr 2015
Calling all non-geo numbers!

Calling all non-geo numbers!

Posted by Chris Thomas

For News Voice

Ofcom has ruled in favour of clearer call charges for non-geographic phone numbers.

On 1st July 2015, important changes are being made to the cost of calling non-geographic numbers and the way in which the cost of numbers are advertised. At last, some clarity on how much we are paying to call numbers that begin with 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers.

Until now, it has been confusing for consumers to know how much they will be charged to call this type of number and often they will avoid using them altogether.

Companies use a range of different dialling codes, and even for the same dialling code, call charges vary greatly depending on the phone operator and whether you're calling from a landline or a mobile.  Transparency is long overdue.

The changes

Driven by Ofcom and the ASA, the changes are designed to simplify and bring clarity to the cost of calls to non-geographic service numbers from both landlines and mobiles. The cost to the consumer of calling a non-geographic number will be made up of two separate charges:

1. An Access Charge : A set call charge which is defined by, and goes to, the caller’s phone company. This will be clearly stated by the phone company and charged as pence per minute.

2. A Service Charge : The remainder of the call charge which will be set by the organisation that owns the number that is being dialled.

Calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers from mobiles currently cost between 0ppm and 35ppm, which Ofcom regards as confusing. These numbers will become free of charge for the caller . This means that Freephone numbers will genuinely be free !

Why is this happening?

Ofcom has ruled that advertising non-geographic numbers with the following message is no longer acceptable:

“Calls cost 35p per minute from a BT landline. Other landlines
may vary and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more." 

What about callers who are not using a BT landline? It can be incredibly frustrating when call charges are not clear.

When the changes come into effect, information regarding the cost of calling a non-geographic number will be as follows:

“Calls to this number will cost 35p per minute plus your network access charge."

This means that if the standard access charge is 3p per minute, the total cost for this call would be 38p per minute.

What do you need to do?

It is recommended that anyone advertising a non-geographic number, reviews the wording in all communications and publications that promote or direct consumer customers to that number. From the 1st July 2015 onwards you will be required to provide clear and prominent pricing information alongside any advertised service number.

The wording above is recommended and further information is available at the Advertising Standard Agency (ASA) website at http://www.asa.org.uk/industry-advertisers or on the dedicated website for these changes http://www.ukcalling.info/