What does the EU Directive mean for my business?
June 2014 sees new regulations which will mean that companies will have to provide ‘basic rate’ numbers for post contract support calls. The changes are following the European Legislation passed in October 2011. The Consumer Rights Directive (CRD) is in charge of the implementation and governing of this from June 2014.
There are many elements to this directive however clause 41 directly affects what numbers can be used for post contract support for consumers.
There is a lot of grey area within these regulations (the directive covers and multitude of other post contract costs, phone numbers is only one of them). There have been different interpretation of the guidelines from different companies. We have tried to offer the clearest information that we can.
What does it mean?
Where a business currently uses 084/087 or 090 numbers for consumer post contract support lines ( ie. fault, returns or complaint lines ) they will be required to also offer an 01/02 or 03 alternative for customer to call. There are industry exemptions which are detailed below. General sales lines and any exemptions can continue to use premium rate numbers.
- Gambling as this is covered by the gambling Act 2005
- Construction and sales of immovable property including building of new properties
- Residential letting contracts
- Package travel contracts
- Timeshare contracts
- Supply of consumables by regular rounds men such as milkmen
- Purchases from vending machines
- Single telecom connections (e.g. payphones and cafe internet connection)
- Financial services are generally exempt although warranties, credit agreements and insurance which are offered in conjunction with the sale of a non-financial goods or services, will still need to meet the requirements for cancellation of ancillary contracts and additional payments not being a default option.
How can I comply with the basic rate requirement?
- Where a telephone helpline is provided, the basic rate requirement means not charging more than and geographic or mobile rate. Consumers should generally expect to pay no more to phone a trader about something that they have bought, than to call a friend or a relative, that is to say the simple cost of connection. This telephone number provided should no provide the trader with a contribution to their costs.
- The following numbers, if used by traders, would comply with the regulations: Geographic numbers or numbers which are always set at the same rate, which will usually begin with the prefix 01, 02 or o3; Calls which can be free of charge to call for example, 0800 and 0808 numbers. In certain circumstances charges to these numbers can be applied, for example, for those ringing from a mobile. However, OFCOM’S proposed reforms will mean these numbers will soon become free in all circumstances ; Mobile numbers, which usually begin with the prefix 07
- Premium rate numbers wouldn’t comply. They begin with the prefix 09
- Other revenue sharing numbers would not comply. There are numbers in which a portion of the call charge can be used to provide a service or make a small payment to the trader. These usually have the prefix 084 or 0871, 0872 or 0873.
- Numbers with the prefix 0870 are not revenue sharing numbers. However, they can be lighter than a geographic cost, and will vary depending on the tariff of the consumer’s telecom company. They would therefore not comply. Following OFCOM reforms in 2015 these numbers will permit revenue sharing and in any case would no longer comply with the basic rate requirements.
- OFCOM has ensured those wishing to change from an 08 number to have access to 03 numbers where the only change will be the substitution of the digit ‘3’ instead of the ‘8’ in the prefix.
If you need anymore advice please contact Brighter Bills on 0843 22 111 33 and a member of the team will be happy to help.