The Government has brought in a new Consumer Rights Directive that will be in force from June 2014. The Directive states the prohibition on customer helplines charging more than the basic call rate, this means not charging more than a geographical or mobile call cost for these types of call.
Over 63,000 people petitioned the Costly Calls campaign to provide basic rate phone numbers for customer service and complaint phone lines. Off the back of this the Government has included this in the new Directive.
So what does this means to you?
Customer service phone lines
084 and 087 numbers for customer service departments for airlines, train operators, and major high street and online retailers will no longer be allowed. Instead, a geo or a basic rate number can be used, such as numbers starting 01, 02, or 03.
Currently, the change will not apply to Financial Services companies but there is talk that this may be reviewed.
Sales phone lines
Sales lines and those lines that are offering a paid service through a phone line are unaffected.
Technical support phone lines
The new Directive does not affect technical support lines if a phone line is provided to consumers and the company outlines in advance that this is a separate service offered. However, if a consumer then has an issue with that service, and the company offers a service to complain, then that separate phone line would have to comply with the regulation of a basic rate phone number.
We agree with the principle of the new Directive but ironically, in some instances calling a geo number during peak time, if you are outside that geographical area, could actually cost you more that calling an 0843 or 0844 number! So we recommend using an 03 number which is a geographical type number without a geographical location associated to it, so in affect when calling this 03 number, it is as if you are in your geographical location.
If you would like to make changes to the phone numbers you use please contact your Account Manager and they will be happy to assist you.
Overall, we feel this change is positive for your customers and will more than likely generate more call traffic from your site to your customer service departments, with customers being more inclined to phone you knowing that they shouldn't incur higher call charges.