Urgent – EU Regulatory Changes 13th June 2014

With adjustments to both the EU Consumer Rights Directive and Ofcom regulation in the pipeline, change is most certainly on the horizon for the national number plan and phone charges.

The essence of both pieces of legislation, in relation to phone charges, is to simplify the numbering system to allow consumers transparency of call tariffs, give comfort in the cost and pricing structure of calls and ensure customers pay no more than the basic rate to contact customer service, complaint or helplines.

Review the pertinent points in this ‘FAQ’ guide:-

What does the EU Directive on Consumer Rights say on call rates?

As of the 13th June 2014, ‘Regulation 41’ states that business which fall under the EU Directive on Consumer Rights are required to switch to ‘basic rate’ prefixes for customer service lines.

Regulation
41.—(1) Where a trader operates a telephone line for the purpose of consumers contacting the trader by telephone in relation to contracts entered into with the trader, a consumer contacting the trader must not be bound to pay more than the basic rate.

Which organisations will the changes affect?

These changes will affect your organisation if it is regulated by the EU Consumer Rights Directive, which includes airlines, train operators and major high street and online retailers. As well as this, all Government bodies will fall into line and adopt basic rate 0300 numbers, rather than the 08 range that many use today.

These changes do not currently affect organisations in industry sectors that are regulated by other bodies, such as the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). The FCA is currently considering whether it should introduce similar measures for Financial Services helplines, however a number of banks have already announced that they will be switching to basic rate (03 prefixed) customer helplines.

In addition to Financial Services, a number of other sectors which are governed by sector-specific rules are also currently exempt from these changes – namely Gambling as covered by the Gambling Act 2005, Package Travel and Timeshare.

Does my organisation need to change all of its numbers?

The changes outlined in the EU Consumer Rights Directive will apply to 084 and 087 number ranges and ‘post-contract phone queries’ only. In other words, where a consumer has already made a purchase, if a helpline is made available by a company regulated by the EU Consumer Rights Directive, from June 2014 this needs to be provided at a basic-rate (03) number.

This legislation relates to customer service lines only and does not currently apply to pre-sales helplines.

What about Technical Support Lines?

If you offer a telephone service which supports your customers in using technical products, this does not need to be changed to an 03 number, provided you make it clear to customers that they will be calling a premium-rate number and that, for problems with products there is a cheaper, 03 number available (if your organisation is regulated by the EU Consumer Rights Directive).

What is the 03 number range?

03 numbers are the only published range of non-geographic numbers that link their price at the same rate as the current local 01 and 02 number ranges.

Will a number change disrupt our customer service levels?

Sesui has an extensive range of 03 numbers and can seamlessly migrate your existing numbers and call plans to a new 03 number, with no down time or impact on your customer service levels. You will still receive the same depth of feature-rich functionality and management information as you do from your current Sesui numbers.

When are the Ofcom changes and who will they impact?

In addition to the Consumer Directive changes, from 26th June 2015, Ofcom will be implementing changes to the national number plan where 080 and 116 numbers will be free to callers.

The changes are centred around bringing transparency to the pricing structure by setting a maximum retail price of ‘zero’ for calls made by consumers to the 080 and 116 number ranges and introducing ‘unbundled tariffs’ for calls made by consumers to the 084, 087, 09 and 118 number ranges.

‘Unbundled tariffs’ mean that callers will be able to see how much of their money goes to their telephone providers and how much goes to the organisations and services they have called.

The Ofcom changes in June 2015 will affect all organisations currently using premium-rate numbers.

premium-numbers

For further information on the EU Consumer Rights Directive click here

To discuss your transition to basic-rate 03 numbers, contact Sesui

For further information on the June 2015 changes by Ofcom click here

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