The end is in sight for confusion over costs to premium rate phone calls as call charges are set to change from next month.
No longer will we hear confusing messages such as ‘calls from other operators and mobile providers may vary’ because as of 01 July 2015, charges must be clearly stated.
The 175 million phone numbers in the UK beginning with 08, 09 or 118 will all be affected by the changes.
Currently, unless you are calling from a BT landline, it is not possible to work out how much these phone calls can cost.
Premium rate numbers can often be used by customer service and information lines as well as directory enquiries. But there are ways you can avoid making costly calls.
How will call charges change?
From 01 July 2015, telecoms firms and organisations operating a premium rate number will have to clearly state their charges.
Call charges to customer service numbers and information lines beginning with 08, 09 or 118 will be made up of two parts – access charges and service charges.
The access charge part of the call goes to your phone company and is charged as pence per minute.
Your phone company will tell you how much the access charge is for calls to customer service numbers and information lines. It will be made clear on bills and when you take out a contract.
The rest of the call charge is made up of the service charge. The cost of this is decided by the company you are calling and they must tell you how much this is.
All telecoms firms will have to provide the cost of their individual access charge on bills and customer contracts.
This means that consumers using an 08, 09 or 118 number will soon be told: ‘Calls will cost x pence per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge’.
Variety of access charges
Figures released so far show a wide variation between the access charges that telecoms firms will impose.
While EE has put its access charge at 44p a minute, Talk Talk says it will charge just 20p, Vodafone will charge 23p and O2 has announced a 25p charge.
Some other telecoms firms are yet to make an announcement, and those stated here are subject to change.
0800 and 0808 free from mobile
These changes are part of a wider shake up of call costs by the telecoms regulator Ofcom.
From July, calls to 0800, 0808 and 116 numbers – which are currently only free from landlines – will become free on mobile networks too.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘Making 0800 numbers free no matter how you call will stop mobile users being caught out.
‘Providers now need to be crystal clear with customers about their access charges for other 08 and 09 numbers so people can compare costs and know in advance what they will be billed.’