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Most premium-rate phone number holders comply with the rules

The businesses behind premium-rate telephone numbers generally comply with the rules. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has conducted a sample survey among 1200 holders of premium-rate telephone numbers. Based on this survey, it turns out that these number holders generally issue correct information regarding call rates, that the information services are easily accessible, and that the information numbers are used in accordance with their intended purposes. ACM has investigated premium-rate telephone numbers beginning with 0900, 0906, 0909, and four-digit  telephone numbers beginning with 18.

Violations lead to sanctions

ACM did discover violations at about a dozen businesses. For example, some businesses did not answer the phone, or had failed to provide services. ACM also encountered businesses charging call rates that were too high. In almost all cases, the offending businesses adjusted their practices after receiving warnings from ACM. Businesses that still fail to comply with the rules after being warned can expect follow-up investigations by ACM. If these investigations confirm  that certain businesses indeed misuse numbers or offer incorrect information on rates, ACM will sanction those businesses.

‘Consumers must be able to rely on the correct use of premium-rate telephone numbers’

Henk Don, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: “Premium-rate telephone numbers have become indispensable in our society. That is why consumers must be able to rely on the correct use of these numbers by businesses. It is encouraging that a lot of number holders comply with the rules. ACM aims to ensure that all numbers holders do so.”

About premium-rate telephone numbers

The rules governing the use of premium-rate telephone numbers are strict, for example regarding maximum rates and accessibility. ACM ensures that the businesses behind the information numbers comply with the rules. These rules set out, when issuing numbers, what numbers should be used for what purposes. 0900 numbers are used for all information services except for adult services and entertainment services. Consumers can call 0909 numbers to access phone-in quizzes on the radio or television. Premium-rate telephone numbers for adult service often begin with 0906. Four-digit  telephone numbers beginning with 18 employ special call rates and offer directory assistance to consumers. These telephone numbers also often enable consumers to be connected to the requested phone number.

About directory assistance services

Recently, directory assistance services via 0900 numbers received negative media coverage: Consumers do not always realize that they still pay the high call rates via the 0900 number after being connected with the requested phone number. Mr. Don adds: “ACM is investigating whether it can prevent these types of undesirable practices by enforcing the correct use of information numbers.”