If you are one of the thousands of companies running either an 0845, 0870 or 0871 number, you need to know that Ofcom – the UK regulator with authority for the telecoms industry – is making changes to 08 numbers which will seriously affect you.
Well, at Need More Time we believe these changes will effectively make 0845, 0870 and 0871 numbers unusable as general contact numbers for businesses.
And it’s all to do with the charges…
Currently, charges vary widely for calls made to 0845, 0870 and 0871 numbers and those charges are determined by the communications provider with whom the call originates.
Calls to 0845 and 0870 may or may not be included in fixed line call packages and tend not to be included in bundled minutes by mobile network operators who typically charge 20p per minute or more.
The changes mean the cost of calling these numbers will now be split into two separate charges:
• the Access Charge, which will be paid to the communications provider with whom the call originates, the rate of which will be determined by that communications provider; and
• the Service Charge, which will be passed on to the communications provider with whom the call terminates and may be shared with the entity being called, the rate of which will be set by the entity to which the number is allocated and will be consistent regardless of whether the call originates from a fixed or mobile phone.
How might this affect you?
There are many detailed rules around how this will operate in practice, but the one we consider most notable is this:
“organisations and service providers to include their service charge whenever the number is presented…”
This means that if your business uses an 0845, 0870 or 0871 number, then wherever that number appears it must be accompanied by the Service Charge applicable to the number – so that’s your website, your letterheads and even your business cards, as well as all advertising materials.
We consider that the changes Ofcom are making are logical, but in the short term at least will probably increase still further the confusion over the cost of calling these numbers, not least because these changes also affect Premium Rate numbers starting “09”.
We also consider that most businesses won’t want to publicise a Service Charge next to their number, unless they are trying to discourage callers from dialling the number.
It is highly unlikely that any communications provider will include Service Charges within call packages or minute bundles, so there will always be an additional cost to the caller when placing a call to an 0845, 0870 or 0871 number following the changes.
The time to act is now
The changes will take effect on 26 June 2015, but now is the time to make decisions.
Your options are to either replace each number with another number, or keep your existing number(s) and ensure you comply with Ofcom’s requirements after 26 June 2015.
By way of number replacement, we can supply an 03 number, which has no geographical link in a similar way to an 08 number, but with the advantage that calls to 03 numbers are charged at the same rate as calls to normal fixed line 01 and 02 numbers, and included in all call packages and minute bundles.
Alternatively, we can supply numbers for all UK area codes, so you can have a local number relevant to your business if that’s what you’d prefer.
If you only use your 08 number(s) to divert calls, we strongly recommend you change your number(s) as soon as possible because you may already be paying more to divert calls than you need to.
If you have advertised your 08 number(s), we recommend you start using alternative numbers with a phased introduction and if you choose to work with Need More Time, this is how we would manage the switchover:
– We will allocate your new number(s) and you will change the number(s) on your website, email signatures, letterhead, business cards and advertising materials as soon as possible;
– You will keep your existing 08 number(s) operational alongside the new one(s)
The existing number(s) will cease to be operational 90 days after the last call is received on them (assuming you have this data), or on 26 June 2015, whichever is sooner.
To help with the process, for a limited time we are offering the following Special Offer, 50% OFF SETUP for EVERY new number ordered before Christmas 2014 using the Offer Code 0845XMASSWITCH. Just mention the code whilst making your purchase and the discount will be applied.
For further information on the changes, please refer to Ofcom’s website.
Until next time
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