Are your helpline charges lawful?

Are your helpline charges lawful?


Author: George Roberts

From 13 June this year, all businesses that operate help lines need to check that they are lawful.

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 come into force in June. Regulation 41 of those regulations confirms that where a business operates a telephone line for its consumers to contact the business in relation to any contract between them, the consumer should not be charged more than the basic telephone rate (i.e. equivalent to standard geographic rates).

Importantly, after the 13 June 2014, where a consumer is unlawfully charges over the basic rate for contacting a business, the contract between them is to be treated as though all sums paid over and above that basic rate are repayable by that business to the consumer.

The overriding principle behind this is that consumers should not have to pay additional charges to rectify any defect in the goods or service offered by businesses.

You can view the full regulations here.

What this means for your business

There are various exemptions from this rule, most notably this does not apply for services of a banking, credit and insurance nature, however, businesses should take advice on any help lines which are chargeable at over the basic rate to ensure compliance with this new piece of legislation.

Shoosmiths regulatory team

Shoosmiths' Regulatory Team specialises in providing consumer law compliance advice to a variety of retail, consumer facing clients. Should you require any advice on any of the upcoming changes to consumer law please contact us.