On 13 June 2014 it will become a legal requirement for businesses to provide a standard rate phone line for consumers, rather than a premium rate 0845 number.
The law is designed to prevent businesses from charging more than the basic rate to customers ringing complaint or query lines – so the law doesn’t apply to lines that provide a value-added service like technical support or sales.
The law was passed in December 2013 as part of The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, which states:
Help-line charges over basic rate
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.
(2) If in those circumstances a consumer who contacts a trader in relation to a contract is bound to pay more than the basic rate, the contract is to be treated as providing for the trader to pay to the consumer any amount by which the charge paid by the consumer for the call is more than the basic rate.
The key part of this is ‘consumers contacting the trader by telephone in relation to contracts entered into with the trader’ – so it applies to any phone line you are currently running which enables current customers to contact you about their current contract with you i.e. a complaint or a general query.
This is why the value-added lines like support and sales are exempt, as they are technically for customers to enter into new contracts with you.
What you need to do before 13 June 2014
If you are currently using an 0845 number for ‘post-sale’ lines like complaints or enquiries, then you need to change it before 13 June to either a geographical number (i.e. 01, 02) or switch to an 03 number to keep the benefits of using an 0845 number.
The 03 solution is probably the easiest, as in most cases it will just require you to change the 0845 to 0345.
What about 0800 numbers?
These can still be used, although only for customers ringing from a landline. Calling an 0800 number from a mobile phone can be more expensive than the standard rate, so if you want to keep using an 0800 number then you need to provide a geographical alternative for customers ringing from a mobile phone.
If you need any further help or advice to make sure your business complies with these new regulations, contact B.A. Tech today or request a call back below and speak with one of our helpful advisers.