Consumer Rights Directive – Phone Numbers

Stuart AndersonStuart Anderson is the Multi Channel Marketing Manager at Spark eCommerce Group, a UK provider of order fulfilment, contact centre and eCommerce services. Stuart has been examining the EU Consumer Rights Directive and today and noticed that many smaller retailers still use non-geographic telephone numbers. If that’s you you’ll need to update your phone numbers over the next couple of months and here’s what you need to know:

Changes to the EU Consumer Rights Directive are coming, and will affect online retailers.

The EU Consumer Rights Directive (CRD) was passed by the EU in October 2011 and aims to simplify consumer rights relating to distance selling. From June 2014, these laws come into play.

What do you need to know?

This guide covers the telephony changes which are taking place; it’s worth reading the full guide to be aware of the non telephony changes. The new rules apply to any business which operates under distance selling regulations, such as online marketplace traders, mail order and eCommerce retailers.

The laws mean that any telephone call to customer support lines relating to a previous purchase must not cost the customer any more than a typical standard geographic or mobile rate. These NON geographic numbers are no longer allowed:

The following numbers ARE NOT permitted for customer service calls:

  • Premium rate numbers including 0871, 0872, 0873, and any numbers starting 09
  • Non premium but service charge numbers including 0843, 0844, 0845
  • Numbers beginning 0870

The following numbers ARE permitted for customer service calls:

  • Geographic rate numbers such as 01, 02, and 03 numbers such as 0333 numbers
  • Any number which is free to call from a landline or mobile
  • Any mobile number beginning 07

The above rules apply to customer service calls only. If a customer is calling to make a purchase, then numbers which incur a charge above the standard geographic rate ARE permitted.

There are exceptions, with organisations in financial services excluded for example. So please double check the full details to see if they apply to you.

What should you do?

If your call centre number has an IVR which directs to sales AND customer services, make sure this number complies with the above. You may need a separate number for sales and customer service.

If a customer incurs a charge above the standard geographic rate, the number will need to be changed. I’d recommend an 0333 number, which is now the best practice. You’ll then need to update any locations where this number appears, such as your website or eBay/Amazon store, social media profiles, blogs, collates in customer orders, returns forms, and any direct mail such as flyers or catalogues. Changing the number on all of these sources can take time, and could be expensive. Make sure you’re prepared for the 14th June when these laws come into force.

Will these laws effect you? How are you preparing for these changes?