As of 13th June 2014 there has been a new legal requirement for all businesses to provide a standard rate number for their customer services lines. This means providing a 01, 02 or 03 number instead of the usual 0845. This new legislation is to ensure customers don’t pay an additional charge for contacting customer services when making a complaint or reporting a faulty product or service.
The new legislation gives customers more leverage and could result in firms being taken to court for non-compliance if an appropriate number isn’t provided. Customers of any business should be able to contact the company in relation to a recent purchase without cost becoming excessive.
EU-Wide Customer Service Regulations
This new change is due to a European Directive which states that no customer should be made to pay any more than the national rate to receive customer service support and guidance. The law was passed under The Consumer Contractions Regulations in December 2013 and companies are slowly recognising the need to switch their lines.
There are certain industries and business types which are currently exempt from this new legislation, including those listed below:
- Gambling organisations that are covered by the Gambling Act 2005
- Timeshare contracts
- Package travel contracts
- Residential lettings contracts
- Construction and sale of permanent property, including new build properties
- Consumable supplies by regular rounds such as milkmen
- Purchases from vending machines
- Single connections such as internet café connections and payphones
- Financial services in general, aside from warranties, insurance and credit agreements sold in conjunction with non-financial services or goods where a separate line will be needed
Complying with New Regulations
It’s understandable that you may be concerned with your business’ compliance, especially if you use a contact centre. All businesses that do not qualify for an example but do provide a telephone helpline must ensure that calls to this line are no higher than the standard rate.
There are a range of numbers which comply with these new regulations including:
- Standard local numbers that being with 01 and 02
- Non-geographic 03 numbers
- Some 0800 and 0808 numbers although an alternative is often needed to avoid higher charges for customers using mobile phones
- Most mobile numbers that begin with 07
Premium rate numbers that begin with 09 do not comply with the new legislation. Numbers which begin with 084 or 0871 are considered revenue sharing lines. This means the company can recoup a percentage of each call charge for their business use and therefore these numbers are not compliant with the new legislation.
There is also some discussion over 0870 numbers as although they are not considered revenue sharing the costs can change dependent on the location of the caller and therefore they are not considered compliant, even in areas where charges are equivalent to standard.
Making the Switch
Making the switch to a new compliant phone number doesn’t have to be difficult. OFCOM has already guaranteed that businesses who want to make the change from 0845 to 0345 will be able to do so with no issues at all.
Activating an 03 number doesn’t need to be difficult and it doesn’t need to disrupt the seamless running of your business helpline. At Aquarius we’re happy to help ensure this transition takes place quickly, ensuring your customer service and contact centre needs are fully compliant and as efficient as ever.