Telephone Helpline Changes

PhoneThere are new regulations which will affect companies providing telephone helplines, these will govern the type of numbers which can be used for post contract queries and the cost to call them. The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 sets out the information which a trader must provide to a consumer before and after making a sale.

These new regulation will come into force in the UK on the 13th June 2014. It is being introduced in all EU member states. In the UK this will supersede the existing Distance Selling Regulations 2000 and the Off-premises (doorstep regulations) 2008 which will be revoked from that date.

Who is affected?

If you are a trader selling goods and services or digital content to a consumer – these regulations will apply to you.

There are however some exemptions;

• Gambling as covered by the Gambling Act 2005

• Construction and Sale of immovable property

• Residential letting contracts

• Package travel contracts

• Timeshare contracts

• Vending machines and other goods intended for current consumptions

• Single telecom connections for use by telephone, fax or internet

• Financial services are generally exempt although warranties, credit agreements and insurance products which are offered in conjunction with the sale of non- financial goods will still need to meet the regulations. Note: The Government has asked the Financial Services Conduct Authority to consider equivalent regulation

Contracts only partly covered by regulation

(Telephone helplines may still be affected in some sectors)

• Passenger transport is exempt from cancellation rights and most of the information requirements.

• Low value off-premise contracts <£42

• Items dispensed on prescription

How does this affect you?

If you are not in one of the sectors which are exempt, then from 13th June 2014:

• All telephone numbers which you provide for Post Contract queries (customer services, payments etc.) must cost no more than “Basic Rate”

• Basic Rate means not more than a geographic or mobile rate

• The following number types would comply:

– Geographic numbers starting 01, 02 or 03

– Mobile numbers starting 07XX

– Free to call numbers such as 0800 or 0808

Note: 0800/0808 is not generally “free to caller” from a mobile but this will change in mid-2015 when OFCOM introduces changes to mobile charges.

Sole use of Premium rate (09xx) and other revenue sharing ranges (e.g. 0844, 0871) for post contract lines will no longer be legal

• 0870 may be acceptable but is often charged at more than geographic rates and will become a revenue sharing range in 2015 so best avoided.

Loss in revenue share when using 0844/0871

What options do you have?

It is not a regulation requirement to provide a Telephone helpline however if you want to continue offering these services here are some of the possible options:

• Issue new “Basic rate” numbers for use on Post-Contract calls. These could be 01, 02 or 03 but must be advertised as prominently as the normal ones.

• New “Basic Rate” numbers can be run in parallel with existing 08XXX ones.

• Companies using numbers starting 08XXX, can apply for an equivalent 03XXX number.

• Where calls are answered using Automated Attendant or IVR type systems, messages can be played to the caller telling them of the alternative number to ring for post- contract queries.

Gradwell offers a wide range of numbers which can be used with our money saving telephony services, call 01225 800 123 to speak to our sales advisers and explore your options.

2014-05-29T06:00:07+00:00

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