It’s a familiar litany…calls cost no more than x from a BT landline, costs from other landlines and mobiles may vary. You may never have entered one of the numerous phone ins and competitions which pop up on the TV and elsewhere, but there is a fair chance that the headline T&Cs which are trotted out every time will be familiar.
However, from 1st July the wording changes. Ofcom, working with phone companies, is introducing UK Calling, a suite of measures which aims to make it easier for people to understand the costs of making calls to businesses and other organisations who currently advertise 08, 09 and 118 telephone numbers.
As part of the change, those calls to competition lines will now be broken down into a charge from the broadcaster and an access charge from the phone company. Every phone company will have to offer a single access charge for all 084, 087 and 09 numbers with that charge being clearly shown on bills and at the outset of a contract. This means that when those running the competition line announce the charge for calling, every potential caller will be able to add the announced charge to their fixed access charge and quickly work out what they will be billed should they decide to call.
Other changes being introduced on 1 July include free calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers from all fixed and mobile phones. These numbers are generally free to call from most landlines at present but often attract charges if called from mobiles. Details about the forthcoming changes are available on the UK Calling website (ukcalling.info) and are being publicised by Ofcom between now and the end of June via a series of radio and newspaper adverts.
Of course, 08 and 09 numbers are just one element of the extensive range of phone numbers available to businesses. From regional to national numbers and from international freephone to local country specific numbers, businesses are free to choose number combinations which fit in best with their individual organisational requirements as well as those of their customers. With number divert to hand, either with or without a virtual switchboard, businesses can even choose a mix of numbers; varying the numbers chosen to meet differing needs.
For example, a sole trader who is only going to be working within their immediate locale may well settle for a UK Regional number. In fact, home-workers who want to advertise a separate number for their business without affecting their home phone line can even adopt a UK Regional Number with calls to that number being seamlessly transferred to home or mobile. This saves having to pay for a separate line. On the other hand, businesses with a wider customer base could opt for a national number or even an international number.
As all calls can be diverted as required businesses aren’t confined to a single number. So a business with clients in London and Paris could offer a choice of local regional numbers from each city. The key to success is to choose a number combination which best suits the calling requirements of your clients; thereby encouraging them to call.
When UK Calling is introduced on 1 July it will change how freephone and some landline calls are viewed, and not just for competition lines. In fact, according to Ofcom, the changes being introduced in total will affect calls to some 175m telephone numbers “making this the biggest overhaul of phone calls in more than a decade.”