It’s been the cause of frustration for as long as we can remember… but that’s all about to change. OFCOM is enforcing price changes for non-geographic telephone numbers later this year and it is great news for all of us.
Bill confusion is certainly something that we can all relate to – calculating the cost of dialling an 0800, 0870 or 0845 number isn’t an easy task! For example, mobile networks tend to charge for calling freephone numbers (with certain exceptions), whilst dialling other non-geographic (NGN) prefixes can often prove just as complicated. Does the call come from your inclusive minutes? Is there a connection charge? And how on earth to differentiate between 0870 and 0871 prices?
The advice offered by companies using NGNs often doesn’t add clarity either. I’m sure we have all seen the following phrase printed on a leaflet, or appearing on-screen during a TV advertisement:
Calls cost 20p per minute from a BT landline, charges from other operators will vary and calls from mobiles will be considerably more.
Under current regulations, this advice is as accurate as it needs to be. But that’s changing from July 1st, when OFCOM finally introduces its new pricing policy.
Freephone numbers – that is, 0800, 0808 and 0500 prefixes – will now be free from mobiles. As pricing changes go, this one is long overdue and will be welcomed by bill payers.
Other NGN numbers – beginning 084, 087, 118 and 09 – are also undergoing change. The cost of the call will now be split into 2 parts. The company you are dialling (e.g. your gas company) will now publish a set service charge. This cost will be the same from mobiles and fixed lines and allows you to see how much the company you are dialling intend on charging you.
The second part of the cost will be an access charge. This will be set by the phone company and will likely differ between mobile networks and fixed line operators.
The result? Clarity before you pick up the phone. Remember that confusing phrase earlier? Under the new model, this will change to:
This call costs 20p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.
Simple, easy-to-understand and far less ambiguous.
You may have noticed that many companies are beginning to use 03 numbers too. Whilst these are by definition also ‘non-geographic’ (i.e. 03 numbers aren’t allocated to areas of the UK like 01 and 02 numbers are), OFCOM do still class these as landline prefixes. So if your mobile tariff includes bundled minutes or free calls to landlines, calls to 03 numbers should be included within these allowances and you shouldn’t incur any of the costs mentioned above.
If you have responsibility for your company’s telecoms, you can expect your existing mobile and fixed line providers to be in contact soon with details of the changes and their proposed access charges. Don’t forget that each provider can set its own access charges – so if you haven’t reviewed your telecoms recently, this is a prime opportunity to ensure cost efficiencies by considering a switch to an alternative supplier.