Today marks a significant change in the way you’re billed for calling numbers that begin with 084, 087, 09 or 118. These numbers, known as ‘service numbers’ are used by companies to offer services of all types. Some conference call providers for example, use an 08 dial in number (although we don’t do that because we want you to be able to make conference calls for free!). If you’re not up to date, read on to find out how the changes to call charges will affect you and your phone bill.
Before the 1st of July, calls to service numbers were normally given like this:
And if you’re not on a BT landline this can be pretty unhelpful. In fact research has shown that consumers are not clear about the true cost of such calls. They are also quite rightly unclear about where the money from each call charge goes.
Charges for calling service numbers (084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers) are now made up of two parts: The access charge and the service charge. The access charge is the charge dictated by the caller’s phone provider. This is a pence per minute charge. Phone providers must make these charges clear on bills and when new contracts are set up.
The service charge is dictated by the organisation receiving the call. This can be a pence per minute, or a pence per call charge. This charge must be displayed, wherever service numbers are advertised. Organisations using service numbers should assess which numbers they use, and where they are advertised, whether this be on websites, email footers, or marketing material. Organisations should also make clear to consumers that an access charge will exist, and that this is dictated by their phone provider.
The information provided with service numbers might read: “Calls to this number are charged at 20 pence per call (excludes VAT) in addition to your phone company’s access charge.”
From now on, you’ll have to go to your call provider to find out what access charge they have set for service numbers. Some mobile network providers have already sent out text messages regarding the new charges, so check your inbox before you look anywhere else!
Changes to freephone numbers
Under the old system freephone numbers (0800 and 0808 numbers) were generally only free when called from a landline. With the new system in place, free phone numbers have become free to call from all UK mobiles and landlines. Another change in an attempt to make things clear and fair for the consumer.
For more information see UK Calling.