UK consumers will benefit from clearer call charges from next month, after the telecoms regulator announced a raft of changes to boost fairness in the market.
On July 1st, Ofcom will introduce legislation requiring both landline and mobile charges to be clearer for calls to numbers beginning with 084, 087, 09 and 118, while freephone is also set to become free from mobiles - something for which customers have generally been charged in the past
The move is part of the regulator's aim to clamp down on the amount that many consumers are being forced to pay to find out information through so-called service lines.
Each year, UK consumers spend a cumulative 250 million hours calling service numbers, which costs them almost £1 billion, with part of the problem being that service providers often fail to make clear how much they will be charged.
However, prices will soon become much clearer on telephone bills, as well as marketing and advertising material, as part of the raft of changes that Ofcom has termed 'UK Calling'.
Under the new legislation, phone companies will be responsible for setting their access charge and making it clear to consumers, while the service provider will be responsible for specifying its service charge to ensure customers will be able to understand the exact cost of making the call by adding the access and service charges together.
They will also be able to compare the prices of different service providers more easily, and also choose a provider with a competitive access charge when signing up to a new landline or mobile deal.
Effectively, it will do away with the commonly seen small print 'Calls may vary from other landlines and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more' and instead spell things out more clearly with 'Calls cost xp per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge'.
Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White described the overhaul as the biggest changes to telephone calls in over a decade.
"Together we spend around £900 million a year on these calls, so it’s important that people understand the cost before they pick up the phone. From July 1st, callers will be able to see how much they’re paying and where their money is going," she added.
A new website - www.ukcalling.info - has also been set up to provide more information on the changes, and what they mean for each customer.