Since the EU Membership Referendum back in June 2016, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding certain laws and directives and whether they will still stand when the UK does leave the EU. In this article we will be taking a look at call charges to 0800 numbers, and whether things will change over the coming years.

What does Brexit mean for the telecoms industry?

The key issue here is the effect Brexit will have on data roaming charges. The Brexit decision came shortly after Europe finally abolished mobile phone roaming charges, allowing travellers to pay the same prices for calls, text and data whilst travelling through Europe as they would at home. It’s bad news for travellers though, as Britain is likely to be dropped from the arrangement once we leave the EU. If this is the case, it will be up to the phone operators themselves to dictate the roaming charges.

There is also an issue surrounding the reform of Openreach, the network division of BT. Ofcom intend to make the two companies legally separate, and would need its powers to reform BT confirmed into UK domestic law, so to ensure a more independent Openreach that will deliver for all of its customer base.

When is Britain leaving the EU?

For the UK to leave the EU, it had to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which gives both sides two years to agree to the terms of the split. PM Theresa May began this process on March 29th, meaning that the UK is scheduled to leave on Friday 29th March 2019.

So what will happen to the EU laws that are in force in the UK?

The day after Brexit was triggered, the UK government released details of its ‘Great Repeal Bill’. This aims to ensure that European law will no longer apply in the UK. All existing EU legislation will be copied across into domestic UK law to ensure a smooth transition on the day after we leave the EU. The UK Parliament can then “amend, repeal and improve” the laws as and where necessary.

An example of a Directive likely to be scrapped following Brexit is the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive. This requires the EU to fulfil at least 20% of its energy need with renewables by the end of the decade through the attainment of individual national targets. The UK Climate Change Act has set its own ambitious target, and its likely that we will focus instead on this.

So, what about call charges to 0800 numbers?

0800 numbers are perhaps the most recognisable number range in the UK, and are synonymous with freephone calls. Calls to 0800 numbers have always been free from landlines, and since July 1st 2015, they have been free to call from mobile phones as well. This ruling was brought in by Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, and so would not be repealed following Brexit.

What about the Consumer Rights Directive?

The Consumer Rights Directive was passed by the EU in October 2011, and came into force in all EU member states in 2014. Although it doesn’t affect 0800 call charges directly, the directive brought in changes surrounding which number prefixes can and can’t be used for customer support lines.

The rules apply to any business which operates under distance selling regulations, such as mail order and eCommerce businesses, or any business that does not trade directly in person with its customers.

All calls made to customer support lines, for product queries, customer service or general help relating to a previous purchase, mustn't cost the consumer any more than a standard geographic or mobile rate. This means that the following non-geographic numbers are NOT allowed for customer service lines:

• Premium rate services such as 0871, 0872, 0873, and any numbers starting with 09

• Non-premium rate but service charge numbers such as 0843, 0844 and 0845

• Numbers that start 0870

The types of numbers that are allowed are as follows:

• Geographic rate numbers such as 01, 02 and 03 numbers

• Any number that is free to call from a landline or mobile, such as 0800 or 0808

• Any mobile number that starts with 07 What exactly is a Directive?

An EU Directive is a form of legislation that is ‘directed’ at the Member States. It sets out an objective that needs to be attained, but it is down to each Member State to pass their own legislation in order to achieve this objective. 

Directives - such as the Consumer Rights Directive - are often used to help enforce the free trade, free movement and competition rules across the UK. They are also used to establish common social policies, and therefore often affect employment issues, labour law, working conditions and health and safety.

Luckily for shoppers, it’s highly unlikely that the Consumer Rights Directive will be repealed. This is because the legislation that implements the Directive will survive, even though EU Regulations will cease to have effect. UK Parliament would be able to make amends to the legislation if they deem fit.

So 0800 numbers will continue to be free to call?

Yes, 0800 numbers will still be free to call from both landlines and mobile phones. This makes them an ideal choice when it comes to non-geographic numbers for businesses. 0800 numbers are seen as trustworthy and reputable, and can be directed towards other telephone numbers, giving off the impression that the business is national company, even when it’s not.

If you or your business are looking to improve your telecoms, Number Supermarket are ready to help. Working with companies of all sizes, they provide cloud-based telephone numbers of all ranges - and make sure to keep their customers up to date with any changes in legislation that will effect them or their customers. Starting from £9.99 a month, you can buy memorable 0800 numbers from Number Supermarket, or any other number range. Any questions? Call today on 0330 332 0400 to speak to a member of their customer service team.