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It has been brought to our attention that some business women could be effected by new regulations on telephone numbers. We are not the experts in this and so share with you content received from Windsor Telecome Plc;
There has been a lot of conflicting information recently about the impact of the Consumer Contract Regulations on 084 and 087 telephone numbers when they come into effect this week ­ not least articles in the press stating that ³callers must not pay more than the basic rate to call an organisation² and ³after 13 June your 084/087 numbers must not be live².

I hope the following will be of some assistance to you:

The Regulations state:

Helpline charges over basic rate
41.‹(1) Where a trader operates a telephone line for the purpose of consumers contacting the trader by telephone in relation to contracts entered into with the trader, a consumer contacting the trader must not be bound to pay more than the basic rate.
(2) If in those circumstances a consumer who contacts a trader in relation to a contract is bound to pay more than the basic rate, the contract is to be treated as providing for the trader to pay to the consumer any amount by which the charge paid by the consumer for the call is more than the basic rate.

The first thing to clarify is that the provisions are concerned with ensuring that the consumer does not incur excessive phone charges when ringing a seller about an existing contract.

– A consumer is defined as ³an individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside that individual¹s trade, business, craft or profession².
– Acceptable number ranges which cost no more than basic rate include geographic numbers (01,02,03). Free to call numbers (080) can also be used, so long as an alternative geographic number is provided for callers using a mobile phone.

So, the call must relate to an existing relationship between the trader and the consumer and the call must be from an individual consumer, not a business.

This means that using an 084 or 087 number as an enquiry line for members of the public, with whom you have no relationship, is not in breach of the regulations. Nor is using these numbers for businesses to call you. Technical support lines are exempt, provided the trader makes it clear that they are a separate service, not one for post purchase problems.

BIS (Department for Business, Innovation & Skills) has published advice that confirms that where there is an equally obvious option to call a basic rate number, the provision of a non-basic rate number will not breach the Regulations, as the consumer is not ³bound² to call the 084/087 number – they have a choice.

If you feel that you need to offer your customers an alternative geographic contact number, we can get one set up quickly for you. Our 01, 02 and 03 Geo numbers come with the same call handling features as our 08 numbers.

If you have specific questions relating to your organisation, we (or our advisors) will aim to assist you.

Regards

Sue Kempton
Customer Services Manager

Tel: 0333 123 8080

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