The Consumer Rights Directive (CRD) was passed by the EU in October 2011, and this part was transposed into UK law in December 2013. The CRD comes into force in the UK next month with the aim of simplifying consumer rights.
One of the key changes means UK businesses cannot charge more than a basic rate for calls from their existing contracted customers. So from June 13, 2014, businesses must advertise a 01, 02, 03 or mobile number for their existing customers to call or offer a freephone number.
GP surgeries have already had to face this challenge head on following an order from NHS England and now other organisations and businesses must do the same...quickly. In the same way that it was not deemed fair to charge patients over the odds for calling their doctor, it is also not considered fair for customers to have to pay inflated rates for calling complaints, support, service and billing desks.
When the CRD came in to effect, Consumer Minister Jo Swinson said: “It really is unfair that consumers are being stung in this way. For too long, some businesses have been trying to extract every extra penny from their loyal customers.”
“If something goes wrong with a cooker, or commuters want a refund on their season ticket, they will now pay the same to phone a helpline as they do to call friends or family.”
It is worth reminding businesses that sell B2B services that the same rules do not apply and there are some B2C businesses that are exempt from these rules.
However, many businesses will be concerned about the cost of changing stationery, websites, signage, etc and losing their national identity by having to use geographically specific numbers. The former issue is unavoidable but replacement 03 numbers, which are charged at local call rates, can still be used to create a national presence.
For advice on your current revenue sharing number, please do not hesitate to give us a call.