Consumer Rights Directive – Phone Numbers

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Stuart AndersonStuart Anderson is the Multi Channel Marketing Manager at Spark eCommerce Group, a UK provider of order fulfilment, contact centre and eCommerce services. Stuart has been examining the EU Consumer Rights Directive and today and noticed that many smaller retailers still use non-geographic telephone numbers. If that’s you you’ll need to update your phone numbers over the next couple of months and here’s what you need to know:

Changes to the EU Consumer Rights Directive are coming, and will affect online retailers.

The EU Consumer Rights Directive (CRD) was passed by the EU in October 2011 and aims to simplify consumer rights relating to distance selling. From June 2014, these laws come into play.

What do you need to know?

This guide covers the telephony changes which are taking place; it’s worth reading the full guide to be aware of the non telephony changes. The new rules apply to any business which operates under distance selling regulations, such as online marketplace traders, mail order and eCommerce retailers.

The laws mean that any telephone call to customer support lines relating to a previous purchase must not cost the customer any more than a typical standard geographic or mobile rate. These NON geographic numbers are no longer allowed:

The following numbers ARE NOT permitted for customer service calls:

  • Premium rate numbers including 0871, 0872, 0873, and any numbers starting 09
  • Non premium but service charge numbers including 0843, 0844, 0845
  • Numbers beginning 0870

The following numbers ARE permitted for customer service calls:

  • Geographic rate numbers such as 01, 02, and 03 numbers such as 0333 numbers
  • Any number which is free to call from a landline or mobile
  • Any mobile number beginning 07

The above rules apply to customer service calls only. If a customer is calling to make a purchase, then numbers which incur a charge above the standard geographic rate ARE permitted.

There are exceptions, with organisations in financial services excluded for example. So please double check the full details to see if they apply to you.

What should you do?

If your call centre number has an IVR which directs to sales AND customer services, make sure this number complies with the above. You may need a separate number for sales and customer service.

If a customer incurs a charge above the standard geographic rate, the number will need to be changed. I’d recommend an 0333 number, which is now the best practice. You’ll then need to update any locations where this number appears, such as your website or eBay/Amazon store, social media profiles, blogs, collates in customer orders, returns forms, and any direct mail such as flyers or catalogues. Changing the number on all of these sources can take time, and could be expensive. Make sure you’re prepared for the 14th June when these laws come into force.

Will these laws effect you? How are you preparing for these changes?

12 Responses

  1. Wasn’t aware of this which is a bit annoying since we just updated our telephone numbers with our 0845 number. It was free from our provider and is a national rate number so no charges but I guess that it will cost mobile , hence why we would now need to change them again?

    The main reason for the change was because we have the same number as a hospital that is not too far from us and we get calls all the time from them and they get call from our customers.

  2. Is this article correct in so far as you can have a 07 mobile number (costing some people 35p p/m to call but you can’t have an 0871 costing usually from 5 to 10p p/m?

    Is this correct or did some dumb ass EU technocrat (or whatever we call them nicely these days!!) get their sums wrong when converting the Pound? Maybe the reason is all mobile calls in Europe cost under 10c regardless of network? Perhaps international mobile calls are free in Europe? Or maybe there was some confusion when calculating exchange rates? Perhaps such confusion would be avoided in the future if the UK joined the Euro? Or maybe the Technocrats are just simply dumb? I don’t know… but it does seem a bit crazy and not great for consumers!!!


    Nice one Brussels. Can anyone tell me who’s running for MEP?

  3. 0800 numbers are not free to call from many mobiles. Does this mean that they will no longer be allowed for CS calls?

    And if so eBay will need to change their CS number before 13th June.

    Unless or course they no longer wish to interfere between seller and buyer.



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