Financial Service companies barred from using premium rate numbers for customer service lines

As a result of the new rules published in July 2015 by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the financial services sector will no longer be permitted to use 084, 087 or 09 numbers for customer service lines. The regulations come into force on the 26th October 2015 and applies to all numbers relating to post contractual customer calls, including complaints and customer service.

In respect to call charges, the key rule changes being introduced on 26th October 2015 are:

“A firm which operates a telephone line for the purpose of enabling a consumer to contact the firm in relation to a contract that has been entered into with the firm, must not bind the consumer to pay more than the basic rate for the telephone call.”

The following numbers, if used by financial firms, would comply with the call charges rule:

  • geographic numbers or numbers which are always set at the same rate, which usually begin with the prefix 01, 02 or 03;
  • calls which can be free of charge to call, for example 0800 and 0808 numbers; and
  • standard mobile numbers, which usually begin with the prefix 07, provided that the firm ordinarily uses a mobile number to receive telephone calls.

The following numbers, if used by financial firms, would not comply with the call charges rule:

  • premium rate numbers that begin with the prefix 09;
  • other revenue sharing numbers in which a portion of the call charge can be used to either provide a service or make a small payment to the firm, such as telephone numbers that begin with the prefix 084 or 0871, 0872 or 0873; and
  • telephone numbers that begin with the prefix 0870 as the cost of making a telephone call on such numbers can be higher than a geographic cost and will vary depending on the consumer’s telephone tariff

These new rules will bring the financial sector in-line with industries which fall under the EU Directive on Consumer Rights, where companies have been required since June 2014, to switch to basic rate prefixes for customer service lines.

Whilst Financial Service firms will still be permitted to use 084, 087 and 09 numbers for sales and enquiry lines, Ofcom regulation introduced on the 1 July 2015 means the applicable Service Charge for the number must be stated wherever any such number is advertised.

premium-numbers

To discuss the impact on your organisation, contact Sesui

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