One of the biggest changes in a decade to the cost of the telecoms calls for individuals and businesses is coming – but very few are ready for it. Ofcom has called the initiative UK Calling and it is important for businesses to be prepared.

Last year, for most industries serving consumers, the use of 0845, 0870 etc. for post sales customer service was banned.   However it didn't address the actual cost of these calls for other uses, resulting in many callers facing unexpected call bills.

Many people were confused by the plethora of 08 numbers and they didn't realise that certain numbers beginning with 07 were not mobile numbers but premium rate lines.

The latest changes plan to address that – but how?   Dave Millett from independent telecoms broker Equinox explains and highlights what it means to both callers and companies.

From 1 July 2015, the cost of calling these types of numbers (known as service numbers), from residential lines and consumer mobiles, will be made up of two parts:

· An access charge: This goes to your phone company. It will be made clear on bills and when you take out a contract.

· A service charge: This is the rest of the call charge. The organisation you are calling decides this, and will tell you how much it is.

It will now be clear how much profit the organisation you are calling is making on your call.  So you can decide; is this the type of organisation I want to do business with?

Old Telephone (PD)These rules will apply to all consumer calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers across the UK, however it does not apply to the old legacy 0500 numbers.

The changes do not affect calls made to ordinary landline numbers (01, 02, 03), mobile (07) numbers, international calls, calls made from payphones, or calls to the UK when roaming overseas.

In addition, all Freephone numbers (0800 or 0808) are being made free to call from both mobiles and landlines.

What do Businesses Need to Do?

Speak to the supplier of your 08 or 09 telephone number and ask them to confirm the service charges.  You could be left with a higher bill than you currently incur particularly if you use a 0800 number.

It is a good opportunity to decide if you want to keep using these numbers or switch to using Geographic 01/02/03 numbers.

It is also important to review all marketing literature including websites, TV/ radio adverts, point of sale and packaging.  If any of it includes 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.

Consumers who paid extra for 0800 calls on their mobile package should ensure that charge is removed from July 1st as they will be free anyway.

As always there is no excuse for ignorance.   More information is available at the special website set up by Ofcom – www.ukcalling.info/.

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