The Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83/EU came into effect in June 2014. In short, it contained new regulations for the contact numbers that retailers make available to consumers for after-sales queries and complaints. In spite of these changes coming into effect nearly three years ago, many organisations are still operating customer service numbers that may be in breach of the regulations – opening their organisations up to fines and, worse than that, damage to their brands and reputation.
Here’s our handy summary of the key points and extracts.
Under the new directive, retailers will need to provide their customers with access to a ‘basic rate’ telephone number for any after-sales queries or complaints. In practice, this means that businesses currently offering 0843/0844/0845/0870/0871 or premium 09 numbers will need to make available an alternative 01/02/03 or 0800/0808 number for after-sales calls. (In the case of small businesses an 07 mobile number will be acceptable.)
So for businesses offering centralised single contact 08 numbers, this will be of concern, as after-sales calls will need to be split out from other calls. Furthermore, retailers should consider what numbers are currently being used on product packaging, web sites, adverts and point of sale receipts. For most organisations, the most common route has been to implement an 03 number to match their existing 08 number – so for example 0845 1234567 would become 0345 1234567.
The key rulings in Section 41 are as follows:
Help-line charges over the basic rate
(1) Where a trader operates a telephone line for the purpose of consumers contacting the trader by telephone in relation to contracts entered into with the trader, a consumer contacting the trader must not be bound to pay more than the basic rate.
(2) If, in those circumstances, a consumer who contacts a trader in relation to a contract is bound to pay more than the basic rate, the contract is to be treated as providing for the trader to pay to the consumer any amount by which the charge paid by the consumer for the call is more than the basic rate.
For full details of the directive, and the guidance on implementing the rulings, click here: