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NGCS Communications Working Group – 9 September 2011, Ofcom

Group 1: How can we best depict the range of numbers pictorially? (Amy Birkenshaw attended discussion)

Conclusions: 

The group decided that any depiction of the number ranges would need to be:

Helpful, accurate and comprehensive

A simple table was suggested from 00 for international calls through to 09 with a corresponding logo alongside it

 

00

International

globe

01 - 02

Geographic/ UK location

Map of UK – area code

03

Non-geographic

Map of UK

07

Mobile

Person on the move

080

Free

Smiley face

08 – 09

“non-geographic” plus

+ plus symbol to suggest that you are paying for a call plus a service

A pyramid of pricing bands was also suggested.

Observations from Amy:

There was a lot of discussion over what was the most important factor to communicate with these numbers and it was argued (predominantly from the BT representative) that price should not be the most important factor. The icons / pictograms should be more informative over what service the numbers actually relate to.

If the numbers are to be represented graphically people were slightly confused over the information that should be communicated... any scale that is used to show how much each of the different numbers could cost could be misleading and, in some cases, uninformative. For example, 09 premium rate numbers can costs a little (10p) to a lot (£1.50+). The premium rate number was the range of numbers taking up most of the discussion and it was felt that more education is needed over what the various premium rate numbers are for (what service they provide) and cost.

The group wasn't sure if 'business rate' was the right term and questioned whether this would mean anything to consumers.

It was questioned whether the numbers also need to be transparent about what calls would cost from a mobile as this would not be a unified cost across the different networks.

A '£' sign is disliked amongst everyone as it gives the wrong impression over how much something might cost ('£' = £1, '£££'=£3).

Group 2: Which logos best describe what the numbers mean? (Nik Bedford attended discussion)

Conclusions:

  • Are we over-complicating this?
  • The type and the cost of the call needs to be made clear.
  • The number could become the logo ie 08, 09 with shading from lighter to darker.

Observations from Nik:

There was lots of discussion over why a logo is a good idea in the first place. 
What should it show - cost? Type of call? Service? All of these. It was felt one logo to do all of this was a tall order.

Non-geo numbers split over three categories: free, the business numbers, and the premium services. Generally felt that one logo would suffice for each of the first two. Premium services need more depth, and the consensus seemed to be that a suite of logos to describe the different services was preferred.

Lots of ideas for pictograms to illustrate the different services: top hat for entertainment, for example.

Other 'logo' reference points we can draw from: road signs (can shape be used to indicate cost?), film rating certificates...

Colour was debated a lot, and it was felt that traffic lights give the wrong message. Other forms of colour coding could be considered with meaning to the colours established over time: bronze, silver, gold or milk colours (blue - full fat, green - semi-skimmed, red - skimmed)

So in summary, tools to consider:

• simple pictures/icons
• colour
• shape
• typography

...or a combination of these things to build more meaning.

Everyone felt Ofcom would need to produce some sort of campaign to launch and educate the public on whatever logos were developed.

Finally, do we need logos? Can't the number (or at least the code suffix) be the 'logo' itself?

Group 3: Access charge/service charge wording: What is the most appropriate wording for explaining call costs? (Peter Walker attended discussion)

Conclusions:

We need to communicate the two parts to the call referring to the action that the consumer is carrying out (eg to vote)

There is still debate around how to phrase the second part of the sentence options include:

  • Your call charge
  • Your call connection charge
  • Your phone company’s charge

For example if you were calling the X Factor it could say:

“To vote it costs 90p per minute plus your call connection charge.”

Observations from Peter:

Colleagues from BT seemed very focussed on how to deal with T&Cs and complaints.  eg, How would a call centre term the different forms of payment when dealing with a customer complaint?

There was some confusion as to how call charges would be made.  eg Would a bank charge separately for their aspect of the overall call cost.

The group were eventually unanimous that the sentence make clear there were two components to any call cost.

The groups suggested example is:

"Our (Service description - eg: vote, download, enquiry) will be charged at 50p per minute,

plus

your connection cost (alternative: the cost of your phone call)"

The thinking was this sentence would appear on the service provider’s material - hence "Our service".

And this would be clearly separate the caller’s phone charges - ie "your connection costs".

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