Reducing the Cost of Calls to 0870 Numbers

Ofcom has set out new rules to provide clarity about the price of calls to 0870 numbers.

These new rules will encourage communications providers:

– To stop charging higher prices for calls to 0870 numbers from fixed lines and mobiles than calls to “geographic rate” numbers (01, 02 or 03 numbers); and

– To include 0870 calls in call packages on the same basis as geographic calls.

These measures may significantly reduce the cost of calling 0870 numbers whilst increasing consumers’ awareness about the costs of calling them.

Clear Advice On Call Costs

Under these new rules, communications providers that want to continue charging for 0870 calls at rates above those for geographic numbers will now be bound by strict rules about how prices are publicised on websites and in promotional material at point of sale.

Communications providers will be responsible for making sure their customers know how much they will be charged for calling an 0870 number and they will not be allowed to advertise 0870 numbers as “national rate” unless they are charging at geographic rates. If they do not comply with these rules, they could be subject to enforcement action including possible fines.

0870 numbers are used by many businesses and organisations to provide a wide range of information and advice including many customer service lines. Currently 0870 calls are priced at levels that enable businesses and organisations to share the revenue generated by per-minute call charges. Ofcom’s new rules should effectively end revenue sharing on 0870 numbers.

Ofcom welcomes steps that some fixed line companies have already taken to include calls to 0870 numbers in call packages and reduce their prices.

The new regulations will come into effect on 1 August 2009.

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