From the 1st of July calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers will be free to call from all UK mobiles under an Ofcom initiative called “UK Calling“.
Regarding non-geographic numbers, Ofcom say “the cost of calling these numbers – which start 08, 09 or 118 – is often difficult to find out“. and “That is changing from July, under a new system which will make the cost of calling service numbers clear for everyone“.
That may be so for 0800 and 0808 numbers, but don’t be fooled into thinking that call charges to other numbers will a) be clear and b) that telephone companies will resist the urge to hike their prices!
From July the cost to call 084, 087, 09 & 118 numbers will be split into two parts: an access charge, which will be stipulated by the caller’s phone company and a service charge, which will be displayed by the organisation advertising the number – you will see something like “Calls to this number cost 20p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge”.
As I’m with Vodafone I checked their call charges, I suggest you check your provider’s rates before July too! Currently for an 0845 or 0870 number Vodafone charge 20.4p a minute. From the 1st of July for numbers beginning 084 or 087 (which includes 0845 and 0870 numbers) Vodafone will charge an access charge of 23p a minute (plus the service charge specified by the organisation called).
But, and it’s a big but, from the 10th of August Vodafone are going to hike their access charge for 084 and 087 numbers to 45p a minute (plus the service charge) – that’s over double what it currently costs me to call an 0845 number today.
Vodafone are at least transparent in how much they’re going to hike your call charges by, O2 don’t want to admit how much their access charge will be and simply state “You’ll be able to find out your access charge by looking at your O2 bill or by checking your tariff. We’ll be communicating this charge to you in June 2015“.
What does this mean for your business – well it’s time to either advertise a standard 01, 02 or 03 geographic number, or to make an 0800 number available. Certainly you don’t want irate customers ringing you up complaining at the cost of your 0845 non-geographic call charges.
Avoid advertising call forwarding service numbers (07744 or 07755) as these will incur a massive 45p per minute charge from Vodafone in August, and doubtless similarly high charges from other providers.