Telephone charges to be made clearer

The biggest change to telephone calls in recent years took place recently.

From 1 July, all Freephone numbers beginning 0800 or 0808 became free for consumers to call from all phones, whether mobile or landline.

Landline and mobile charges will become clearer for calls to service numbers starting 084, 087, 09 and 118.

Ofcom research shows that every year, callers in the UK spend a total of 250m hours calling these service numbers, spending around £900m between them.

Previously, callers to these numbers have not generally been told by the service provider how much they will be charged.

But under changes brought in as part of “UK Calling”, prices will be clearer on telephone bills, in marketing materials and in advertising.

Phone companies are responsible for setting their access charge, making it clear to consumers on their bills and informing new customers of the charge when they sign up to a contract.

Consumers will now be able to:

·Know that when they call a Freephone number from a consumer mobile the call will be free;

·Understand the exact cost of making a call to a service number call by adding the access and service charges together.

·Compare the prices of different service providers more easily; and

·Choose a provider with a competitive access charge when signing up to a new landline or mobile deal.

Under the new system, the cost of calls will be explained in a simpler format such as:

“Calls cost xp per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.” Organisations that used 084 and 087 number will now use an 03 number.

Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than calls to geographic 01 and 02 numbers and are now used by most government departments, major banks, public bodies and not-for-profit organisations.