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New plans to tackle 'confusion' over service numbers

Ofcom has announced measures to make the cost of calling businesses and services more transparent for consumers from June 2015.

They include:

  • Clearer pricing for all numbers starting 08, 09 and 118.
  • Cost of service numbers will be broken down into an ‘access charge’ to phone company, plus a ‘service charge’ to the company or organisation.
  • The service charge for premium rate (09) numbers will be capped.
  • Consumer calls to Freephone (0800, 0808 and 116) numbers which are generally free from landlines, will become free from mobile phones too.
  • Confusion around 0845 numbers - which are sometimes tied to the cost of a geographic call - will be addressed.

Telephone call charges 'to be made simpler' from 2015

Charges for telephone calls to business and services will be made simpler from 2015 with clearer pricing for all numbers starting 08, 09 and 118, Ofcom has announced.

Under new plans, 080 freephone numbers will be free from mobiles as well as landlines.

Ofcom said the changes should all be implemented by 2015. Credit: Press Association

Ofcom said the measures are designed to tackle "consumer confusion" over non-geographic’ service numbers that have a range of uses, from finding out information to banking, directory enquiry and entertainment services.

Its aim is to make prices more transparent, improve competition, restore consumer confidence in non-geographic service numbers and increase their usage.

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Labour: Phone bills cap should not be voluntary

Labour criticised the Government's new measures to cap mobile phone bills for victims of handset theft as "not strong enough protection" for consumers, because it relies on voluntary participation from phone companies.

By relying on a voluntary approach they are not giving strong enough protection to consumers, who too often face phone rip-offs.

Labour has clear plans that the Government should implement now.

Caps on charges run up on stolen phones should be fixed at £50.The companies should also be required to give people warnings when reaching limits on texts and phone call and concrete steps should be taken on the recycling of handsets.

– Helen Goodman, Labour’s Shadow Communications Minister

The measures, set to be introduced next spring, include a break-off clause if call prices rise mid-contract, but Ms Goodman said this will "fail" most people with phone contracts.

"Existing fixed contracts should be fixed – introducing ‘fixed means fixed’ from January will fail most mobile users."

Miller: Mobile deal protects families from price hikes

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said the Government's new deal with telecoms providers will help to prevent families with mobile phones being hit with surprise price rises mid-contract.

We are ensuring hard-working families are not hit with shock bills through no fault of their own.

Families can be left struggling if carefully planned budgets are be blown away by unexpected bills from a stolen mobile or a mid-contract price rise.

This agreement with the telecoms companies will deliver real benefits to consumers and help ensure people are not hit with shock bills.

– Culture Secretary Maria Miller

What phone users can expect from 'shock' bills cap

Here are details of the new measures to protect mobile phone users from "shock bills", which are expected to be enforced from next spring

  • A new liability cap - expected to be £50 - on mobiles that are lost or stolen
  • A right to be informed if prices rise mid-contract
  • A right to break off the contract without penalty if they don't want to pay higher rates
  • BT, Sky and TalkTalk have agreed to support Government efforts to eliminate EU roaming charges by 2016.

Phone theft victims to be protected from 'shock bills'

Mobile phone users whose handsets are stolen will no longer be hit with "shock bills" when a new cap on the maximum value of calls they will be expected to pay for comes into force next spring.

Victims of mobile phone theft will be protected from 'shock bills' if their handsets are stolen. Credit: PA

The Government has struck the deal with four major mobile companies - EE, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone, as well as communications providers BT, Sky and TalkTalk.

It marks the latest move by ministers to help households struggling to pay their bills, following accusations by Labour leader Ed Miliband that the UK is suffering a "cost of living crisis".

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Mobiles putting 'most vulnerable road users in danger'

Mobile phones pose a "similar" threat to road users as drunk drivers would and are leading otherwise responsible drivers into "horrific" accidents, a safety campaigner has said.

Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend explained:

We're living in an age when being constantly connected is the norm. More and more of us have smartphones, and find it hard to switch off, even for a minute.

While there are enormous benefits to this new technology, it's also posing dangerous temptations to drivers to divert their concentration away from the critical task at hand, often putting our most vulnerable road users in danger.

Many people who wouldn't dream of drink-driving are succumbing to using their phone and other distractions while driving, oblivious that the effect can be similar and the consequences just as horrific.

– Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend
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