Phone Numbers In Depth » 084 and 087 customer service number ban

084 and 087 customer service number ban

Phone numbers starting with prefixes such as 0844, 0845 and 0870 are no longer permitted for most customer service phone lines.

What the ban covers

Almost all helplines or customer service lines relating to an existing purchase or a current contract must be charged at standard rates.

Companies are specifically prohibited from using numbers starting 084, 087 and 09 as all such numbers 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 even though 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.

The only numbers companies many now use are standard landline rate numbers (starting 01, 02 or 03) or freephone (0800 and 0808) numbers. 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 do not apply to a few specific types of business such as package holidays, timeshares, property construction and sales, residential lettings, milkmen, vending machines and gambling.

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.

Further infomation:
» Consumer Contracts Regulations - Part 4
» BIS Implementation Guidelines (PDF)
» FCA Complaints and Call Handling Instrument (PDF)

Dealing with non-compliant businesses

Where a company accepts telephone enquiries about an existing order, booking, purchase or service, the number used must be a standard rate or freephone number starting with 01, 02, 03 or 080. Some companies still do not comply with this requirement.

Some companies also wrongly claim that their 0845 or 0870 numbers are still allowed as they are 'local rate' or 'national rate'. While these numbers were charged at local or national rates at their introduction 20 years ago, it has not been the case for many years.

Always ask for a more appropriate number

For the avoidance of doubt, all numbers starting 084, 087 or 09 cost more to call than a normal local or national landline number.

If a company publishes only one of these more expensive numbers, try contacting them by other means (such as email or social media) and requesting an alternative number that complies with the law.

Complain if you are overcharged

If you are made to call an expensive 084, 087 or 09 number as an existing customer – or have accidentally called one without realising that extra charges apply – you should ask the company concerned for a refund of the excess call charges. Companies are specifically required to reimburse customers under section 41 (2) of the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

You can also report inappropriate use of 084, 087 and 09 numbers to the Citizens Advice consumer service or Consumerline.

« Phone Numbers In Depth

Extract from 2013 consumer regulations