As of 1st July 2015, Ofcom’s UK Calling Initiative comes into force. The ruling is designed to clear up the cost of calling non geographic phone numbers from both landline and mobile phones.

What’s changed?

Most notably, freephone is now actually free, and that includes mobiles. So calls to an 0800 or 0808 number are now free for customers.

Calls to 084, 087, 09, and 118 numbers have had their costs simplified. Before today, calls to these such numbers were typically quoted as costing “20p per minute from a BT landline” But with the majority of consumers using mobiles predominantly, the costs of calling 084, 087, 09, and 118 numbers were always confusing.

That’s now changed. As of today the cost of calling service numbers (08, 09, 118) will be split into two parts:

  • An Access Charge – this is a pence per minute rate, the cost of which goes to a customers phone company. From July 1st, the access charge will be detailed, and will be explained when taking out any phone contract, and clearly detailed on bills.
  • A Service Charge – This is the cost for the rest of the call. The organisation you’re calling decides this cost, and must explain what that cost is.

What does this mean for customers?

Put short, simpler charges for customers. A recent EU Customer Rights Directive we blogged about means that customers can no longer be charged to call customer service numbers when the call is relating to a previous purchase. Customers should also now be informed by the company they are calling ahead of the call, what exactly that call will cost them. So in theory, happier customers.

What does this mean for eCommerce stores, brands and retailers?

Firstly, businesses must clearly inform customers of the exact cost to call specific phone numbers. At Spark Response, following the EU Consumer Rights Directive, we advised our clients to utilise an 0333 (non geographic) number for all customer service lines, which was, and still is free for customers.

Now though, businesses can offer 0800 and 0808, as well as 0333 numbers to customers, which will all be free from both mobiles and landlines.

Who pays for these numbers now?

Businesses do. In order to offer 0800 or 0808 freephone numbers, the cost has been removed from the customer, and passed to the business. The cost of operating an 0800 or 0808 number will likely remain the same, so we advise checking with your provider, however, it’s likely the cost will increase by £0.0225 per minute.

For the full details of the changes, please visit the UK Calling Info site, provided by Ofcom.