Telecoms regulator Ofcom is consulting on new rules which will ensure phone users always know the cost of calling numbers starting 08, 09 and 118.
It has also announced plans to ensure calls to freephone (0800) numbers are always free, even on mobiles.
The regulator says non-BT customers cannot always “easily tell how much they will be charged” for calling so-called non-geographic which are widely used by information, banking, directory enquiry and entertainment services.
Under its proposed new rules, consumers would pay a single ‘access charge’ to their phone company for all calls to these numbers, plus a ‘service charge’ to the company or organisation they are calling.
Phone companies will be required to inform customers of their access charge when they sign up to a new service while service providers will specify the charge for their service wherever they advertise or communicate it.
The new rules require Ofcom to issue legal instruments which it has published in a draft form ahead of a final decision in the summer.
The body says the new rules represent “a fundamental restructuring of call charging” and so it will allow operators 18 months to introduce the changes.