On 1 July 2015 Ofcom introduced a new way of charging for calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers.
The call charge was split into two parts. The Access Charge is set by and retained by the caller's phone provider and is a single rate per minute for all 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers. The Service Charge is set by the called party in their initial choice of telephone number to use and the revenue is shared between the called party and their telecoms provider. The Service Charge can be levied per call or per minute or a combination of both.
Ofcom set a limit of one hundred different Service Charge price points and a cap on the price depending on the number range.
The Service Charge for 084 numbers cannot exceed 7p per call or 7p per minute.
The Service Charge for 087 numbers cannot exceed 13p per call or 13p per minute.
The Service Charge for 09 numbers cannot exceed £6 per call or £3.60 per minute.
The Service Charge for 118 numbers cannot exceed £3.65 per call or £2.43 per minute, with a further limit of £3.65 per 90 seconds of a call.
Plusnet has expanded these call charges into 266 price points in six different categories.
The first category covers 0845 numbers. Quite why 0845 numbers were singled out when the twelve listed price points are available for all 084 numbers, and indeed also available on all 087, 09 and 118 numbers, is a mystery.
The second category covers 0870 numbers. Quite why 0870 numbers were singled out when the twenty listed price points are available for all 087 numbers, and indeed also available on all 09 and 118 numbers, is a mystery.
The third category covers 118 numbers and lists 91 entries. However, Ofcom capped the allowed rate for Service Charges for 118 numbers from 1 April 2019 and there are only 81 price points now allowed. The plusnet list includes 10 entries that now exceed the allowed limit. The changes in April saw 26 price points disallowed for 118 numbers, fifteen of those are still allowed for 09 numbers and eleven were completely withdrawn from use - seven of which have since been redefined with new prices. The number of valid price points for 118 numbers is (100 - 26 + 7 😃 81. Plusnet still lists 91.
The fourth category lists the twenty price points available on all 087 numbers. Marked as "INFORM" it is identical to the list of price points for 0870 numbers. Why is there this duplication? The price points at 7p and below are available on all 084 numbers. Why are 0845 and 0870 singled out for separate treatment?
The fifth category covers 09 numbers and lists only 90 entries. There are, in fact, 96 price points available on 09 numbers, but the plusnet list omits six of them. In the April 2019 reform of Service Number price points, eleven price points were completely withdrawn from use as they exceeded the new lower price limit for calls to 118 numbers and already exceed the limit for use on 09 numbers. Subsequently, seven of those price codes have been re-introduced with new, lower, prices and are now available for use on both 09 and 118 numbers. The number of price points available on the 09 range is (100 - 11 + 7 😃 96. Plusnet lists only 90.
The sixth, and final, category list 33 price points and is marked as "NON-GEO". The selection of price points seems random as it includes the very lowest and the very highest, but omits many of the mid range prices. The usage of this category cannot be determined. All 084, 087 and 09 numbers are non-geographic, indeed all 03, 08 and 09 numbers are non-geographic. What is the purpose of this "NON-GEO" category and why is there 33 entries in it?
The biggest questions have to be why has Plusnet decided to redefine a hundred price points into 266 price points, and having done so, why have the lists not been kept up to date?