Ofcom recently announced that 0800 and 0808 freephone numbers can now be called free from mobiles. At the same time, service providers and phone companies also have to make their access charges for the 084, 087, 118, and 09 business telephone numbers more transparent.
Good for the consumer
There are some 175-million business telephone numbers which could benefit from either the no-charge changes; or find their services more in demand when mobile subscribers know exactly what their costs will be.
From now on, instead of the small print saying, ‘calls from mobiles may cost considerably more,’ the service provider’s charge has to be shown (5 pence per minute) plus the phone company’s access charge (20 pence per minute). In this case, a call to the numbers using these tariffs would be 25 pence a minute. Clarity is also the name of the game when consumers receive their bills. From now on service number charges and access costs have to be clearly shown. Normal landline calls, or those made to standard 07 mobile numbers will be unaffected.
Ofcom believe that these changes will prove to be beneficial to consumers and in an increasingly competitive market, falling prices should result. Some mobile service providers are not particularly impressed with the changes though. UK consumers over a year make 250 million calls to business telephone numbers 084, 087, 09, and 118, spending over £900m.
The likely effects on business
With the massive increase in smartphone use across the UK, the changes implemented by Ofcom could have a beneficial effect for businesses using these non-geographic business telephone numbers (084, 087, 09, or 118).
The latest figures show that over two-thirds of the population now own a smartphone. Of those, 33% say their mobile is now their favourite tool to access the internet, with just 30% sticking with their trusty laptop. Much of this increase is attributed to the faster access available from 4G broadband, which saw a staggering increase in use from just under 3 million subscribers at the end of 2013, to nearly 24 million by the end of this year.
This increased use is occurring right across the age spectrum and as a result, business telephone numbers should begin to see an increase in usage from customers with the charges now being made clearer.
Companies using service numbers
For businesses using service numbers, changes to website and advertising material will have to be made to show the cost to the consumer of using each. There is no requirement to change the service numbers in use, however as changes have to be made to website and advertising material anyway, contacting your call provider to discuss rates and numbers is always an option.
Charges will be capped
While the 0800 and 0808 numbers will be free from mobiles and the directory-enquiries 118 numbers unaffected, other numbers will have a tariff cap. The 084 range will be capped at 7p, the 087 numbers at 13p and the 09 numbers will be capped at £3/minute as well as £5 per call (All figures include VAT).
A large number of businesses use the 08, 09, and 118 service numbers when making outbound calls, however at the moment, the new charges only apply to calls from consumer mobiles and private residential landlines. It is believed though that service providers may well extend the same pricing structure to business telephone numbers at a later date.
Use of these numbers, and how charges are displayed will continue to be monitored by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Phonepay Plus. Penalties for failing to comply with the new regulations can be found on their websites.
If you are concerned about the cost of using 08 numbers, contact us to find out more about our Non-Geographic Platinum numbers to carry unlimited call traffic for a fixed monthly fee.