No more forced 0845 numbers for customer service lines
We’re not big fans of premium rate numbers here at Bitterwallet, particularly where there are only 08 numbers available when you need customer service. We have previously described how completely impossible it is to decipher the cost of an 08 number call, and from next June, 0800 numbers will have to be free for everyone, including mobile users, and organisations will have to spell out more clearly the true cost of calling that 08 number.
However, not all positive changes to telephony are so far away. From tomorrow, companies offering a customer service telephone number must have a non-08 number alternative to ensure that anyone calling will not suffer premium rate charges just to get some help.
From 13th June it will be a legal requirement that businesses provide a standard-rate number (i.e. 01, 02 or 03) for their customer service lines. Businesses that fail to comply can be taken to court by the consumer for recompense against excess charges incurred, and the new law will also be enforced by Trading Standards and The Office of Fair Trading, who could also take persistent offenders to court. The rules only apply to consumer-facing businesses, however; those dealing with other businesses can still charge upwards of 40p per minute if they so choose.
The changes are part of a group of new rules coming into force under the EU consumer rights directive, which also includes such consumer-friendly policies as increasing the minimum cancellation period offered by retailers, up from 7 to 14 days and the forced introduction of “express consent” for additional services- sneaky sellers can no longer automatically tick boxes for you to purchase insurance or other add-ons, you will need to tick to say you want the additional product/service yourself. Traders must obtain the consumer’s express prior consent for any additional payments.