On Friday 13th June 2014, the Distance Selling Regulations 2000 and Off-Premises (Doorstep) Regulations 2008 will be revoked and replaced by Consumer Contracts Regulations. So if you're a trader selling goods, services or digital content to consumers, there is a new set of regulations which will apply to you. Sorry if you're B2B as we know a lot of you are but these are big important changes which are worth knowing about, whether you’re B2B or B2C.
There are a number of changes, some of which include the information that must be given to consumers before making a purchase, their rights if they change their mind, delivery times and much more but we're going to look at the changes around the use of non-geographic phone numbers such as 0845, 0844, 0871, 0872 and 0873 for customer helplines.
First of all it's worth pointing out that you can still use non-geographic numbers for your sales lines (for now), as the changes affect customer telephone helplines for after sales service. The regulations state:
"No phone charges in excess of basic rate for post-contract phone queries"
In plain English this means if you offer a telephone helpline for consumers to contact you about something they’ve bought, there should be a number available on which they call for this purpose, costing them no more than the basic rate.
So to comply you must offer a customer service line to consumers on at least one of the following numbers: geographic numbers or numbers which are always set at the same rate, which usually begin 01, 02 or 03 and mobile numbers which usually begin 07, or free of charge i.e. 0800 and 0808.
OFCOM has proposed reforms around call charges to 0800 and 0808 numbers so they will soon become free to call from mobiles.
Of course if you need any of your telephone messages re-recording to reflect any new phone numbers you've implemented give us a call on 0161 850 3033.
The above information is as a guide only. Latest information and guidance on the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations can be found on the government's Department for Business Innovation & Skills website.