It’ll soon be easier to work out the cost of premium rate calls

Telecoms watchdog Ofcom has announced plans for fairer and more transparent pricing for people calling 08, 09 and 118 phone numbers.

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In a nationwide campaign called UKCalling, the regulator will communicate details of the overhaul, which is expected to affect around 175 million phone numbers from July 1.

Here’s a look at the changes:

What’s changing?

From July, the pricing structure of premium numbers will change, so callers can accurately work out the cost of calling before they dial.

In summary, these are the main changes:

 -The pricing structure of calling numbers with a 084, 087 or 09 prefix will comprise of two parts: an access charge and a service charge. This will also apply to 118 numbers.

  -The access charge will be set by your phone provider, with details being sent to customers. This information will also be displayed on mobile phone bills and will be available for those taking out a new mobile phone contract. 

  -The service charge will be set by the company you are calling and will be clearly stated in the terms and conditions advertised with the number.

  -Freephone numbers (0800 and 0808) will become free for mobile phone callers. At present, operators can charge for using these numbers.

What type of phone numbers will be affected?

Fairer pricing will affect phone numbers associated with directory enquiries, TV competitions as well as calls to companies and other organisations.

How can I work out the cost of a call?

By combining the service charge and access charge you’ll be able to figure out the cost of your call. 

You can enter the phone number into UKCalling’s cost of calling page. The figures reflect present calling prices and will be updated after July, when the changes come into action.

Will these changes apply to customer service helplines?

Under separate legislation separate to the UKCalling campaign, the government has introduced rules for companies (including airlines, train operators and high street retailers) which run customer helplines.

These providers will be required to offer a basic rate contact number. The pricing linked to these numbers must fall in line with standard geographic rates, standard mobile rates or should be free.

Why has this change happened?

Ofcom has said that the cost of calling these numbers is often unclear and is difficult to calculate. Similarly, there is no uniformity between calling from a landline or mobile, meaning mobile callers usually fare a lot worse when calling these types of numbers.

Typically, the details of pricing are explained in the following way:

“Calls cost Xp from a BT landline. Other landlines may vary and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more.”

But, from July, broadcasters and other providers will need to modify their terms and conditions with information on the service charge. Instead, the wording will need to be clearer and read like the following example. 

“Calls cost Xp plus your phone company’s access charge.”

 

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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