Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, is introducing a new requirement on all telephone providers to 'clarify' the call charges to numbers known as 'non-geographic services'. The most common numbers this will affect begin 0845, and 0844 but most '08xx' numbers are impacted.
From 1st July all telephone service providers are required by Ofcom to split the call charge into two parts:
1) The 'Service Charge', which is passed on by us, without any markup, directly to the owner of the number range via our wholesalers.
2) The 'Access Charge', which is the charge we make for our service. This has to cover the 'Access Charge' made to us by our providers.
In order to make it clearer for our customers, we will be showing these elements seperately for each 084/087 call on the call itemisation identified on the bill as the 'Service charge' and the 'Access charge', so that you can see how the call charge has been calculated.
Based on the latest tariff information we expect this new 'clarity' from Ofcom to involve significant and wideranging price increases to these non-geographic numbers. We think Ofcom has let down consumers by forcing this new system on the market, and the big phone players have taken this opportunity to hike rates to 084 and 087 numbers drastically.
We would thus strongly suggest to all our customers (and even those who are not our customers!) to use alternative numbers. There is a web site that has lists of these cheaper numbers which customers may find useful, although we don't vouch for the accuracy of the information provided: http://www.saynoto0870.com/
The Ofcom web site has more details: http://www.ukcalling.info/
We are committed to remaining competitive in this new charging regime and we have set our Access Charge for all calls to 084 and 087 to be 3.84 pence per min incl VAT at current 20% rate with a minimum charge of one minute. This is lower than the Access Charges of all the other main networks I have seen who have so far announced their 'Access charge' pricing. Of particular concern are the Access Charges from mobiles which are around 20 to 40 pence per minute.
I am pleased to confirm that no other charges will be increased at this time. Calls to 080x and 0500, 999 and 112 have previously been free of charge, and will continue to be so.
Historically we have not enabled access to Directory or Operator services (118 xxx) or premium rate '09' numbers and we have no plans to change this at the moment.