Business Mobile Regs voip

So Long 084 and 087 (and Thanks for All the Fish)! welcomes guest contributor Alex Kinch, Founder and CEO of Ziron.

The game is finally up for many ‘rip-off’ 084 and 087 numbers. Thanks to the EU’s Consumer Rights Directive – and the corresponding UK legislation (The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013), as of 13-June-2014 customers will not pay more than the “basic rate” when calling a wide range of businesses for customer service, complaints, renewals and cancellations. Hopefully by that point the majority of businesses will have already swapped their numbers, however what is really interesting is the reason why this change is taking place and what the impact will be.

Alex Kinch

I may be showing my age, but I remember when the 084/ 087 numbers hit the mainstream at the start of the millennium. For businesses the advantage was clear: profit resulting from the call charges. Understandably, though, this didn’t make consumers very happy, and you can see their point. After all, who wants to be charged a premium rate whilst waiting an age listening to “Greensleeves” on repeat?

Mobile operator Three estimates the cost to consumers at half a billion pounds a year with research and testing company Which? pitting the figure at £385 a year, per household, which is not really small change by anyone’s standards. Thus, it’s no wonder that 67% of the consumers surveyed by Which? thought that these high-rate numbers were being deliberately used to discourage people from calling them.

So with Which? and other consumer rights groups complaining to the government to take action, it is great that something is finally being done to end this ‘rip off’. As with everything, however, there is a catch: certain types of companies are exempt from the legislation, including financial services, gambling, construction, and property sales and rental. There is hope, of course, that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will put pressure on their members to voluntarily comply.

All of this has been good news for the numbering market, as demand for 03 numbers has gone through the roof. It feels as though consumers get that 03 numbers are ‘national’ numbers, but that they are billed like a geographic call. The real question, though, is how this will affect call volume and whether businesses will find other ways to recoup their lost revenue. I guess we will find out next month…

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8 replies on “So Long 084 and 087 (and Thanks for All the Fish)!”

0871 /0872 have had their death knell sounded some time ago, and are regulated by PhonePayPlus, but I didn’t think 0845 / 0844 are quite dead, yet.

True that 03 numbers are a better option in most cases, but 084 numbers aren’t quite so expensive, I’d have thought they could still be classified as “basic rate”. There’s still a huge legacy base of people using 084.

Do it perhaps matter where you’re calling from? If BT charge less than 5p a minute is that ‘basic rate’? where is the definition of “basic rate defined”? If it isn’t, it seems there’s a bit of wiggle room and 084 is not quite dead, not quite yet.

I still get annoyed that Freephone numbers are free on some mobile networks and not others (like vodafone, grrr)

After the splitting of call costs effective 1 July 2015, it is clear that calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers are never ‘basic rate’.

Basic rate numbers are those where the callers pays their landline or mobile provider to connect and convey the call and nothing more. Whether the call is inclusive or paid for at a per minute rate is down to the deal the caller is on. In all cases, the called party does not benefit financially from incoming calls.

Basic rate calls include geographic 01 and 02 numbers, non-geographic 03 numbers and mobile 071-075 and 077-079 numbers. Calls to freephone 080 numbers are also included.

Calls to numbers starting 084, 087, 09 and 118 consist of an Access Charge to the benefit of the caller’s provider and a Service Charge to the benefit of the called party and their telecoms provider. Even where the Service Charge is as low as 1p per minute these calls are not Basic Rate, the equivalent call made to an 01, 02 or 03 number would likely be inclusive and even when chargeable there would be no Service Charge incurred.

Whilst 0845 and 0870 have been reasonably priced for some time now and indeed free for canny landline users, they still cost an arm and a leg from mobiles. So it’s good to see their use restricted, if only at half cock. It always concerns me as I wait at the far end of Guildford station, that the little notice suggesting that instead of hurling myself under the next train, I should call the Samaritans on 0845 . . .

(Don’t worry, have no intention of doing either, at least not from a mobile.)

@Phil calls to complain or for after-care service should be included in mobile bundles and unlimited call packages – which 03 numbers are. Would you pay 20p+ per minute only to be put on hold? I wouldn’t.

@Chris I’ve always used that site, but you shouldn’t have to find an alternative number in the first place?

@Howard wonder why the Samaritans don’t publicise their 116 number more?

@phil Off the top of my head 0844 numbers and (with yet more changes) Ofcom are proposing the pricing will be set by the number owner from a range of choices that could be higher than that 6ppm. Peter Farmer might mock this comment for its summary of a complex subject but the fact is no one knows how much it will cost to call an 0844 and it is definitely not ‘basic rate’.

@alex Hello

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