084 and 087 post customer service number ban
It is now illegal to use phone numbers starting 084, 087 for post customer service enquiries.
0844 numbers, 0845 numbers, 0870, 0871 and 0872 numbers are among those which have been banned following regulatory changes during 2014-2015.
Banned numbers for customer service
Almost all helplines or customer service lines relating to an existing purchase or a current contract must be charged at standard rates. Numbers starting 084, 087 and 09 are not allowed as they are charged at more than standard rates.
The numbers that are no longer allowed include:
- 0843 numbers
- 0844 numbers
- 0845 numbers
- 0870 numbers
- 0871 numbers
- 0872 numbers
Note that although 0845 and 0870 numbers were commonly used for customer services in the past, they are specifically included in the list of numbers that are no longer acceptable.
Only standard landline rate numbers (starting 01, 02 or 03) or freephone (0800 and 0808) numbers are now allowed for after-sales enquiries. A regular mobile phone number is also acceptable in certain cases – such as for contacting a self-employed tradesman or a small business.
Exceptions to the rules
Premium rate numbers are still allowed for sales lines and pre-sales enquiries. However, the cost of calling such numbers must be clearly advertised wherever they are published.
Paid-for services that aren’t part of an existing contract – such as technical helplines or information lines – are still allowed to use premium rate numbers.
The rules also do not apply to a few specific types of business such as package holidays, timeshares, property construction and sales, residential lettings, vending machines and gambling.
How to deal with businesses that break the rules
If you need to contact a company that wrongly uses 084 or 087 numbers for enquiries about an existing order, booking, purchase or service:
- Try contacting them by other means, such as by email or social media, and request an alternative, compliant number.
- Make a fuss on social media if they are unhelpful! You may get results by publicly pointing out they are illegally overcharging.
- If you have already called the number, insist on a refund of the cost. Companies are required to refund excess call costs under regulation 41 (2) of the Consumer Contracts Regulations.
- Do not be misled by any claim that their 0845 or 0870 numbers are ‘local rate’ or ‘national rate’. This has not been the case for many years.
- Report inappropriate use of 084, 087 and 09 numbers to the Citizens Advice consumer service or Consumerline.
Background to the ban
The requirement that customers should not face excess fees for enquiring or complaining about an existing product or service originated in an EU directive. The specific rules were laid out in the Consumer Contracts Regulations of 2013 and came into force in 2014.
Although the rules did not originally cover financial services, the Financial Conduct Authority followed suit by imposing identical rules on banks, building societies and insurers during 2015.