6/10/2009 2:33:00 PM
New rules for 087 call charges due in August
New rules for calling 087 prefixed numbers from mobiles are being forced through by 1 August amid increasing frustration at the high costs.
The regulation will mean consumers must be told of the costs involved before they are connected, and there will be pressure to cut the time a call is put on hold.
Regulator PhonepayPlus has been handed control of the matter by Ofcom after a rise in complaints.
With more businesses and call centres using 087 numbers, consumers have complained that ‘local or national’ rates from landlines are not part of bundled voice minutes from mobiles. Calls are frequently subject to high charges as they can often last close to one hour.
The premium rate services regulator, which is now responsible for 0871, 0872 and 0873 codes, revealed 40% of the revenue for these numbers comes from mobile calls, despite accounting for just 13% of the total minutes.
Meanwhile, consumer feedback showed 40% of users were unaware of the extra call costs from a mobile, while 44% of all 0871 callers had been unsatisfied with the service in the past six months.
The regulator is aiming to ban ‘undue delay’ on calls and demand prominent and clear notice of the charges.
The research found that the overall market size for 087 numbers is set to fall to £85m in 2009 – a decline over 18 months due to consumer confusion and resistance to the numbers.
Businesses with 087 numbers will receive 731 million call minutes this
year. The cost is normally between 5p and 10p per minute from landlines, but is frequently much more from mobiles.
Ofcom announced a review of the 087 number range in February 2009, when it also placed the numbers under PhonepayPlus to be regulated as a premium rate service.
PhonepayPlus CEO Paul Whiteing said: ‘Consumers have made it clear that pricing for 087 services must be easier to understand. We expect this regulation to be a boon to industry and consumers alike.’