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Changes to the rules

On 13th June 2014 a number of changes to the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD) come into force in the UK with wide spreading implications for any company dealing with consumers.

The aim is to protect consumers during and after a sale has been made.

If you sell to consumers and are currently using a number that begins 084, 087 or 09, it is likely that you’ll be affected by these changes. Business to Business contacts are not affected. From the 13th June businesses can only use numbers with a basic (local) rate number, such as 01, 02 and the new 03* non-geographic number, to provide after-sales services for customers, including product support or customer service desks. All affected numbers will need to be updated by June 14th or face the issue of repaying all callers the additional cost. Compliance will be monitored so it is important you make this change.

One of the challenges will be to make customers aware of the new numbers as call forwarding will not be allowed.

Timescales

From 13th June 2014 businesses must provide a local or mobile number for all after-sales calls. Any existing 084, 087 or 09 numbers in use must be updated to an 01, 02, 03* or mobile number for your existing customers to call. Alternatively you can promote a freephone number such as 0800/0808, as these are not affected by this change.

However, please be aware that there is likely to be an increase in the cost to use an 080 number in the summer of 2015. While numbers with the prefix 0870 are not considered revenue sharing numbers at the moment, they will be in 18 months’ time following expected OFCOM reforms (and will no longer be compliant). They can also still cost customers more than a geographic call. Due to this, it is strongly recommended that all 0870 numbers are included in any changes made from June 2014.

Your Options

So what are your options with regards to meet these new regulations. There are two main options

Option 1 – 034/037 numbers

Replace your current 084, 087 or 09 numbers with 034 or 037 numbers and consumers will only pay a local rate for the calls. If you have an existing 084, 087 or 09 number and have not ported it between providers, it is likely that they have already have the matching 034 or 037 number for you although they may charge

Option 2 – choose a local 01/02 number

Choosing this type of number gives you the appearance of being geographically close to your customers, no matter where in the UK you are based. You can also choose multiple numbers for different regions to best suit your business needs.

Option 3 – 0800 number

An option now but one likely to become expensive in the summer of 2015 when calls from mobiles become free to caller but increase the cost of the called.

Exempt Industries

Certain industries have been exempted from the changes and these include:

– gambling,
– banking,
– credit, insurance,
– pensions and investments,
– creation of immovable property or of rights in immovable property,
– rental of accommodation,
– supply of food and beverages which are delivered regularly to the consumer,
– package travel,
– timeshares,
– contracts concluded by automated vending machines through a payphone with a telecommunications operator.

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