About 0345 Numbers


The Consumer Contracts Regulations mean companies are no longer allowed to charge more than the basic rate for post-contract telephone calls. As a consequence, ringing customer service and complaints lines is now often at no incidental cost to the caller.Permitted number types are geographic ratefreephone numbers (when they become free from mobiles later this year), and; mobile telephone numbers. Geographic rate numbers are prefixed 01, 02 and 03, and the cost of dialling them is invariably nothing due to inclusive packages being the norm these days.

Charges above the basic rate will still be allowed for services that don’t form part of the contract, such as technical support. Businesses are also still free to use such numbers for sales lines, if they so wish.


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The legislation, the full official title of which is “The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013” (SI:2013/3134), applies to most sectors; exemptions are listed below.

The financial services sector isn’t covered by the Consumer Contracts Regulations. However, the FCA is currently consulting(until 13th March) on a proposal that its members should charge no more than the basic rate for post-contract telephone enquiries. If accepted, the new rules are expected to be implemented during summer 2015.

Guidance

The Government has published guidance on the regulations which clearly explains what is and what isn’t allowed.

In summary, the guidance says that these number types are allowed:

  • Geographic rate numbers, which means any number which starts 0102 or 03.
  • A number which is free to call from all fixed and mobile telephone services, which will be 0800 or 0808 when the changes Ofcom has in the pipeline are applied in June 2015.
  • mobile telephone number, which is prefixed 07 (except the 070 and 076 sub-prefixes).

The guidance also sets out those which are not allowed:

  • Premium Rate Service


     (PRS) ranges which start with 087108720873 and 09.
  • Other numbers that also convey a Service Charge, but which aren’t PRS; these are prefixed 08430844 and 0845.
  • Numbers which start with 0870.

Users of 084x and 087x numbers can exchange the second digit, 8, for a 3, with the rest of the number remaining the same. This means that the number 0845 123 4567 could be replaced with 0345 123 4567, for example. Alternatively a new 0330 or 0333 number can be used.

Exemptions
The Consumer Contracts Regulations don’t apply to all types of company with the following being exempted:

  • financial services, including banks and insurance companies
  • gambling
  • construction, sale of immovable property and residential letting contracts
  • package travel and timeshare
  • roundsmen on a regular route
  • purchases from vending machines
  • single telecommunications connections such as public payphones and public wifi, including that provided in establishments such as cafés

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