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ACM warns providers of premium-rate telephone numbers

07-12-2017

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has informed providers of premium-rate telephone numbers about tightened rules. One of the reasons for the new rules is the constant flow of questions and complaints about expensive directory assistance services and payment services. The tightened rules apply to numbers beginning with 0900, 0906, and 0909.

Most important changes

From now on, holders of a premium-rate telephone number should make clear who they are up-front, and indicate what the main features of their service are. A directory assistance service or payment service with a rate per minute may no longer be offered with numbers beginning with 0900 or 0909. Does a directory assistance service or a payment service use a number beginning with 0900 or 0909 with a rate per call? In such cases, the maximum amount of EUR 1.60 per call applies.

Oversight on number holders

From January 2018, ACM will monitor whether the holders of issued numbers comply with the rules. Number holders are not allowed to keep callers on hold endlessly. ACM is able to withdraw a number if a number holder does not comply with the rules.

Example

Suppose consumers wish to call the police, the Dutch Tax Administration (in Dutch: Belastingdienst), or their telecom provider’s customer service. These organizations have a telephone number that consumers are able to call free of charge or at low charges. However, there are also directory assistance services that sway consumers to call through them. They buy advertising space from search engines and thus appear high in the search results. Previously, it was possible that a consumer called through a directory assistance service charging 90 cents per minute, without being aware of it.

The new rules prevent numbers beginning with 0900 or 0909 from being used for charging the directory assistance rate as long as possible. With the new rules, callers will hear at the beginning of the call that they are using a directory assistance service. Callers will pay to the directory assistance service no more than EUR 1.60 per call.

Which premium-rate number is used for what?

0900 numbers are intended for serious information, such as customer services. This number is not intended for services that have as objective prolonging the call as much as possible, for entertainment services or adult services.

0909 numbers are intended for entertainment, such as games, phone-in quizzes and horoscopes. 0909 numbers are not intended for adult services or for services that have as objective prolonging the call as much as possible.

0906 numbers are intended for adult services. In addition, 0906 numbers can be used for all other kinds of services as well.

Information about the costs for calling premium-rate numbers