UK 03 Numbers and Freephone Number Changes

Big changes are coming for companies using UK non-geographic numbers that are currently marketed as “UK toll free numbers.” New legislation enacted by Ofcom will affect businesses that advertise 0845, 087, 0800, and 0808 numbers to customers in the UK. Some of these changes are already in effect, while others will be effective starting 1 July 2015.

UK Toll Free Numbers

Despite their name, UK “toll free” numbers were not entirely free for customers to dial until now. Calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers from landlines were free of charge, but consumers that dialed these numbers from their mobile phones were charged at a premium rate.

In addition, all callers who dialed numbers beginning with 084 or 087 prefixes were charged at a premium rate, regardless of the device or network used to make that call. The cost of calls made to these numbers was shared with the called party.

While some of these numbers are included in landline calling plans, most are not included in mobile calling packages.

The problem with this situation is clear: most customers aren’t sure what it costs to call a business using a non-geographic number from a mobile device. As a result, many mobile users are confused and frustrated when they receive the bill for these calls.

In order to protect consumers, both the EU and Ofcom, the UK’s telecommunications regulator, are introducing new legislation surrounding UK toll free numbers.

How Will Ofcom Changes Affect Your Business?

Big changes are coming for companies who currently do business in the United Kingdom.

  1. Businesses will not be allowed to use 0845 and 0870 numbers for helplines.
  2. Effective 1 July 2015, all calls made to freephone numbers (0800 and 0808) must be free for all callers.

0845 and 0870 Numbers Cannot Be Used for Helplines

Last year, an EU directive mandated that consumers should not be charged more than the national rate for a phone call made to customer support or customer service.

Starting 1 July 2015, Ofcom is introducing new legislation that will force businesses to comply with this EU directive. These changes will have a big impact on businesses that currently use UK toll free numbers or freephone numbers as a point of contact for their customers.

Ofcom’s new rules will prohibit businesses from advertising 0845, 0870, or 09 numbers to existing customers as a way to reach customer service, helplines, and customer support. Companies will still be allowed to use 0845 numbers for sales and other non-customer support services, but they will be required to clearly advertise the cost of dialing the number.

In order to meet the requirements of this new legislation, companies that advertise 087, 084, or 09 numbers to existing customers must switch to a 01, 02, 03, or 07 (mobile) number. They may also choose to use a freephone number.

Mobile Calls Made to 0800 and 0808 Numbers Must Be Free

According to Ofcom’s new rules, all calls made to freephone numbers (0800 and 0808) must be completely free for customers. This means that businesses will be required to pay all costs associated with these calls, regardless of the device or network that the customer used to make the call.

Because of these changes, businesses that own and use UK freephone numbers will face drastic increases in telephony costs starting 1 July 2015.

How Can Your Business Minimize Telephony Costs?

With Ofcom’s new legislation, businesses will pay more per call for calls made to freephone numbers; costs for landline and mobile calls may also be quoted at a single rate.  Businesses that currently use 0845 or 0870 numbers for customer service purposes will need to replace them with 01, 02, or 03 numbers.

Adopting a UK 03 number may be the best way to minimize calling costs associated with your UK toll free number and ensure compliance with new Ofcom regulations.

What Are UK 03 Numbers?

UK 03 numbers are new, non-geographic toll free numbers introduced by Ofcom as an alternative to 08 numbers. These new numbers allow businesses to have a single point of contact in the UK without forcing customers to pay additional costs to dial them.

As you can see, Ofcom itself is already using 03 numbers:

  • Ofcom Licensing Centre: 0300-123-1000
  • Ofcom Switchboard: 0300-123-3000

Why Use a UK 03 Number to Replace Your 0845 or 0870 Number?

UK 03 numbers allow businesses to have a single point of contact in the UK, and they cost no more to dial than the national rate.

Plus, calls made to UK 03 numbers actually count toward the caller’s inclusive bundled minutes. Most consumers have a bundled rate plan on their mobile phones, and in some cases, their landlines. Because of this, calling an 03 number is essentially free for the customer, and costs no more than a freephone call for the business.

How to Get a UK 03 Number has 03 UK numbers in stock, and they will be available for purchase before the 1 July 2015 deadline.