Are your customers compliant with the Consumer Rights Directive?

Providing after-sales support via 08 numbers is no longer legal for many consumer businesses. This article will show you how you can ensure your customers are compliant.

Originally passed by the European Union in October 2011, the Consumer Rights Directive finally came into force in the UK in June 2014. The legislation is designed to offer additional protection for consumers.

One key change to the directive affects the permitted use of 084, 087 and 09 numbers.

A handy additional revenue stream

In the past, the use of premium rate numbers by businesses has been common practice. These chargeable numbers:

› Help offset some of the costs of providing consumer support
› Force customers to reconsider their calls in advance, helping deter many of the less important calls that can take up a lot of company time and resource

However, the use of these numbers has never been popular with consumers.

 

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What has to change?

Under the terms of the new Consumer Rights Directive, businesses are no longer permitted to use chargeable, non-geographic numbers for any after-sales contact.

This means that any of your customers who are still using the following phone numbers may not be compliant with the new regulations:

› 0843, 0844 or 0845
› 0871, 0872 or 0873 or 09
› Any numbers beginning 0870

If any of your customers are still using these numbers for after-sales contact from consumers, they will need to change them immediately, or face fines for breaching the Consumer Rights Directive.

“If found guilty of an offence, a person will be liable to a fine between €4,000 and €5,000, or up to 12 months imprisonment – or both. Many of the regulations are to be enforced by the National Consumer Agency.”Consumer Rights Directive.

Not all industries are included in these regulations

Your customers will not be affected by these regulations if they fall into one of the following exempt industries: gambling, banking, credit, insurance, pensions and investments, creation of immovable property or of rights in immovable property, rental of accommodation, supply of food and beverages which are delivered regularly to the consumer, package travel, timeshares, contracts concluded by automated vending machines through a payphone with a telecommunications operator.

Is this the end for 08 numbers?

Not at all! 08 phone numbers are still perfectly valid for use by businesses for pre-sales activity – sales lines for example. As the name suggests, the Consumer Rights Directive only impacts B2C organisations – B2B organisations have not been affected at all, so can continue to use 08 numbers as they have been, if they wish to.

What do you need to do now?

With the Consumer Rights Directive already in force, you need to act quickly to ensure your customers are compliant.

The steps to take:

› Identify your customers who have been affected by the new regulations
› Conduct an audit of their existing 08 numbers – what are they used for?
› Check existing trunks and switchboard settings to ensure support calls are not routed via the affected numbers
› Arrange replacement numbers for those that are no longer compliant with either:
› geographic numbers beginning 01, 02, 03
› 0800 and 0300 numbers
› Mobile numbers beginning 07

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4 September 2014 | Justin Coombes

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.