We have already informed you about the EU Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83/EU separately. In order to implement this Directive, the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 (‘the Regulations’) on 13 December 2013. The Regulations will take effect on 13 June 2014.
Whilst the Regulations do not require the provision of a customer helpline, the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (12th edition) already requires PRS providers to offer and effectively publicise a non-PRS UK telephone number for consumer complaint and/or enquiry. This has included geographic numbers, and those on the 03 or 084 ranges, but has to date excluded 087 numbers.
The exception to this has been for 087 numbers, where 087 providers have been permitted to use the same number for delivery of a service (e.g. consumer complaint facility for non-PRS products, data capture or chat) and for complaints regarding the service provided on that number. This is currently set out at paragraphs 8.1 to 8.4 of Service-Specific Guidance on Lower Cost Services.
However paragraph 41 of the Regulations prohibits customer helplines charging consumers at any more than basic rate. This precludes the use of numbers on the 09, 087 and 084 ranges to operate a telephone line for consumer contact about a product already purchased, whether charged via PRS or not, or to cancel a contract.
From 13 June 2014 providers who operate consumer complaint facilities on the 087 number range, or other premium rate number ranges such as 084, will be in breach of the Regulations.
When the Regulations come into force, providers of premium rate services that operate consumer complaint facilities on a premium rate number range, including 087, 084, or otherwise, must continue to ensure that they comply with outcome 2.6 of our Code relating to ‘complaint handling’, and relevant rules, using suitable number ranges for complaints handled via the telephone.
From 13 June 2014 the expectations set out at paragraphs 8.1. to 8.4 of the current Service-Specific Guidance will no longer apply in respect of other PRS (such as data capture and chat) operated on the 087 number range. Providers of such services will be required to provide and effectively publicise an effective complaint facility operated on a number range which is compliant with the Regulations.
What about PRS that provides technical support?
BIS guidance sets out that this need not come under Regulation 41, provided it is clear to the consumer that the line exists to provide technical support for a product already purchased (e.g. a laptop, tablet, software, machinery, white goods or other electronics), with that technical support being charged separately from the original purchase via the cost of the call.
Technical support lines must not provide the facility to complain about a product already purchased.
What about 087 services which provide something other than a consumer complaint facility?
Where an 087 number is used to provide a PRS (such as chat, conference call facilities, data capture – i.e. receiving an order and/or payment for a product from consumers who call, or other forms of entertainment and information) its use will be compliant with the Regulations as long as no consumer complaint facility is provided on the 087 number.
In addition, such providers will no longer be permitted to use any other 087 or other premium rate number, to receive complaints about the premium rate service.
- Only 01, 02, 03 or FreeCall numbers can be used as consumer complaint facilities in the future.
- 087 numbers need such consumer complaint facilities as well.
More details of the effects on the use of premium rate numbers can be found on http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/.
Although this information has been compiled with extraordinary diligence, telequest & Internet Solutions GmbH assumes no liability for their up-to-dateness, completeness and correctness.
The customer is in spite of handing out this information obligated to gather all necessary information about the legal and regulatory provisions and the Code of Conduct of the particular country himself.