It’s important for businesses using non-geographic telephone numbers (NGNs) to re-evaluate their use, following the announcement from OFCOM that significant changes will come into effect from 1st July 2015.
The changes, which aim to simplify the charging structure and increase transparency for customers will affect numbers starting with 084, 087, 09 or 118. From this date, Freephone numbers beginning 0800, 0808 or 116 will also become free for consumers calling them from mobiles as well as landlines.
It is important businesses do their homework and find out where most of their calls originate from so they can then make an informed decision about which numbers to use in the future. They may need to change the prefixes they use if they are genuinely worried that customers could be put off having to call a more expensive number.
Any business using these numbers will share an enforceable obligation with their telecoms provider and publishers to provide clear information to consumers about the new call costs wherever the numbers are published.
Call costs will be broken down into two parts; a service charge, made by the provider and business at the end of the call and an access charge, which is made by the consumer’s telephone provider. Businesses will be required to display the actual per minute service charge plus a reference to the access charge.
Businesses using NGNs must take action if they have not already done so. Ignoring the changes is not an option and apart from incurring penalties if the new costs are not published and communicated correctly and paying more for Freephone calls, they risk upsetting customers and losing business.
There are thousands of businesses across the UK which use these numbers but the majority are blissfully unaware of how these changes will affect them or what they need to do. The simplest solution is to migrate to an 03 prefix number, which helps avoid all of the issues outlined above.
Unlike 08 numbers, 03 numbers cost consumers the same to call as landline numbers, even from mobiles and are included as part of inclusive call minutes from all major mobile phone and landline operators – switching to 03 numbers will also show consumers you put their interests at the heart of your business.