How does UK Calling affect businesses?
If your organisation uses a ‘non-geographic’ service number for people to contact you - that’s one beginning 08, 09 or 118 - you need to be aware of changes made in 2015 to how these numbers are charged.
The cost to the consumer of calling a service number (starting 084, 087, 09 or 118) must now be made up of two clear parts:
- An access charge. This goes to the caller’s telephone company, charged as pence per minute.
- A service charge. This is the remainder; it includes any revenue going to the service provider (that is you, the party being called), as well as revenue going to the ‘terminating call provider’ (or TCP: the company that provides the number to you).
What you need to do
Review all your materials and advertising. If your business or organisation is contacted on a number beginning 084, 087, 09 or 118, you must ensure that your service charge is clearly displayed wherever you advertise or promote that number. The service charge should be prominent and in close proximity to the number itself. The recommended form of wording is:
“Calls cost xp [or xp per minute] plus your phone company's access charge.”
This is likely to mean that your service charge should be provided alongside the related number in all communications directed towards current or potential users of the service, where the use of the number is promoted or advertised. These communications are likely to include as a minimum:
- Any broadcast advertisements on television or radio;
- Any press advertising;
- Any online advertising, including paid-for search listings;
- On social media;
- Advertising bill boards and posters;
- Public notices, press releases and other public relations material which promotes access to the service offered on the numbers, or promotes contact with the organisation using the number;
- Point of sale displays and other fixed advertising;
- Packages, wrappers, labels, tickets, timetables and price lists;
- Service directories; and
- Company websites.
Which numbers are charged this way?
The numbers where access and service charges apply are those beginning 0843, 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871, 0872, 0873, 09, and 118.
What happens if I don’t include this information on every piece of material which promotes my contact number? Who will enforce this?
All rules must be adhered to. Ofcom has overall responsibility for regulating non-geographic service numbers.
The Phone paid Services Authority (PSA) is appointed by Ofcom to carry out day-to-day operations for premium rate services, which includes the 09 and 118 number ranges, as well as any 087 numbers with a service charge of 7p per minute (or a 7p fixed per-call charge) or higher (all figures are inclusive of VAT). Further information about the PSA can be found at www.psauthority.org.uk
Separately, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has responsibility for regulating “paid-for” ads, the content of TV and radio ads, and claims made by companies on their own websites and in social media spaces under their control. The ASA enforces rules including a prohibition on misleading advertising, which covers providing adequate information about the cost of calls. More information about the ASA can be found on its website (also the website of the ASA’s sister body, the Committee of Advertising Practice).