Consumers and interested parties have one month left in which to respond to to telecom regulator Ofcom’s plans to ensure greater transparency of charges for calling numbers starting 08, 09 and 118.
As reported earlier this month, Ofcom says customers whose landline is provided by companies other than BT cannot always “easily tell how much they will be charged” for calling so-called non-geographic such as 0845 numbers which are widely used by information, banking, directory enquiry and entertainment services.
To redress the problem it is proposing a two pronged reform.
Firstly, consumers would pay a single ‘access charge’ to their phone company for all calls to non-geographic numbers, plus a ‘service charge’ to the company or organisation they are calling.
In addition, phone companies would be obliged to inform customers of charges when they sign up to a new service while service providers would be required to specify the charges for their service wherever they advertise it.
The regulator has also announced plans to ensure calls to freephone (0800) numbers are always free, even when called from mobiles.
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.
Due to an error in the original consultation document this has been updated. Those wishing to respond can do so online, the deadline for responses is May 28th.