Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, is to submit new proposals stopping mobile operators charging customers for making calls to 0800 numbers, looking to make calls to these numbers free like they are from landlines.
Changes to 0800 call charges are just one of a number of sweeping changes Ofcom is looking to make to reduce customer confusion and uncertainty when making calls. It proposes to make calls easier to understand, simultaneously lowering costs.
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With this in mind, Ofcom intends to simplify number ranges to so that 01, 02, 03 will be geographic rates, 07 for mobile rates, 0800 will be free for for both mobile and landlines, with 083/4/5, and 0871/2/3 being a lower cost business rate and 090, 091 and 098 becoming higher cost premium numbers.
The regulator will seek to change the pricing structure of non-geographic calls, separating the phone company’s charge and the charges made by businesses. By doing this, customers would then be able to see the differences between phone packages, obtaining a better sense of value as a result. The pricing of 118 services would also come under review.
A review of phone charges would help organisations, especially charities. Rekha Wadhwani, chief executive of The Helplines Association notes:
“We welcome Ofcom’s plans to tackle these issues and agree there is significant confusion around call costs.
We have been campaigning on the cost of calling freephone numbers, especially charity helplines, from mobile phones since 1999. It is also important that answering calls from mobiles remains affordable for charities.”