The Consumer Rights Directive and non-geographic numbers

euThe Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which implement into UK law the majority of the EU Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83/EU, change the permitted use of non-geographic numbers for post contract customer helplines.

As with any regulatory change, it is important to take the time to consider how your business is affected, if at all.  To help our customers we have put together the following frequently asked questions.  These frequently asked questions are intended to be used as a guide only.  If you have any doubts about how the Regulations apply to your company you should seek independent legal advice.

What are the changes?

The Regulations will affect companies who are operating non-geographic numbers for customer helplines that consumers call.  So this will not affect other lines you operate such as sales lines and only applies to consumers.  If your company operates one of these helplines you may not be able to charge more than the basic rate from this summer, however, there are exemptions.  This applies to consumer-to-business contracts.  It does not apply to business-to-business contracts.

What is a consumer and what is customer helpline?

A consumer is an individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession.

A customer helpline is a line used to call a company about something the customer has already bought.  As such, there is no requirement to cease using all non-geographic numbers.  Only those used to contact a company about a contract that has been concluded.

What is the basic rate?

Calls to numbers such as 01, 02 and 03 are considered to charge the basic rate.  This is the same for mobile numbers that usually begin with 07.

Which numbers should I review?

084, 0871, 0872, 0873 and 09 cannot be used for customer helplines.  Even though 0870 is not currently revenue sharing, it is likely not to be compliant with these new regulations.

Can I run a 084 number alongside a 03 number?

Yes, the consumer must not be bound to pay more than the basic rate, so it is possible to run both numbers alongside each other.  Ofcom have made the many of the 0345 equivalent of the 0845 numbers available to assist with the changes.  If you want to operate a 03 equivalent number we would encourage you to contact NT Independent Networks to discuss your options. 

What are the exemptions?

The following exemptions have been identified in the Regulations:

  • residential letting contracts
  • package travel contracts
  • timeshare contracts
  • construction and sale of immovable property including building of new properties
  • gambling as this is covered by the Gambling Act 2005
  • supply of consumables by regular roundsmen such as milkmen
  • purchases from vending machines
  • supply of a product by a health care professional under arrangements for the supply of services as part of the health service
  • single telecom connections (e.g. payphones and café internet connection)

What date do these provisions take effect?

These regulations apply to contracts concluded by the company operating the helpline on or after 13 June 2014.

Where can I find the government guidance?

Guidance from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) can be found via this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/266525/bis-13-1368-consumer-contracts-information-cancellation-and-additional-payments-regulations-guidance.pdf

How can NT help?

Our experienced sales team are here to help you find the best way forward for your business.  We will also work with you to maintain any functionality you currently have. The numbers can be pointed into your existing routing plans to ensure your customer experience does not change. Most importantly you retain full visibility of your inbound call traffic so you can manage it effectively.