Spending Caps & additional charges PARTNER GUIDE

Introducing Spending Caps
- what are they?

A new Ofcom regulation is coming into effect from 1 October 2018. The regulation gives customers the option set a monthly Spending Cap in order to limit additional costs that fall outside of their standard, agreed monthly charges.

Effective from 1 October, all new or renewing customers are eligible for the Spending Cap.

The option to apply a Spending Cap is offered before a customer signs the contract through the eContract during the pre-contract stage.

Spending Caps can be added, adjusted or removed at any time for eligible customers via the v4 portal.

Ofcom
HOW DO SPENDING CAPS WORK?

Spending Caps limit the amount of additional charges that can be incurred by a service by notifying them when a Spending Cap limit is being approached and reached, and restricting the service when the cap is reached so that it can no longer be used in a way that generates additional charges.

Spending Caps are refreshed at the start of every billing cycle. In the case of a service being restricted, these restrictions are removed.

When restrictions are put in place, a service is still able to use any remaining inclusive allowances and free services.

plan.com only works with businesses, which means our Spending Caps work slightly differently to High Street providers because it is common for plan.com customers to have more than one service. Therefore, our Spending Caps apply to each service on a customer account rather than to the entire account. This is so that you are able to set up specific Spending Caps for each service, if and when required.

SPENDING CAP LIMITS

Spending Caps can be set at different levels for each service. Spending Caps can be amended at any time.

£0 SPENDING CAPS

Customers have the option to apply £0 Spending Caps to their services. In these cases, the service will be automatically restricted so that some types of usage (such as premium-rate and international calls, roaming etc.) are unavailable. Customers should only opt to select a £0 limit if they understand that certain kinds of usage will be unavailable to their services.

SETTING THE RIGHT CAP LIMIT

Spending Caps offer a broad safety net against bill shock and give customers the confidence that their monthly costs are under control. However, setting a Spending Cap too low may lead to services being constantly restricted and prevent the person using the phone from being connected with the business and its customers.

Please remember when setting an appropriate Spending Cap limit, a certain proportion of out-of-bundle spend is to be expected on any corporate account. For example, international calls, premium-rate calls or roaming usage may be an essential element of a business. Therefore, setting a Spending Cap too low may be an obstruction to that business.

WHAT HAPPENS IF A SERVICE REACHES IT'S SPENDING CAP?

Any further chargeable call, text or data usage will be restricted. If a service uses up its monthly allowances and any bolt-on allowances, additional calls, texts and data usage may be barred. A service will always be able to make calls to emergency services. Calls to plan.com Customer Services will also be available to most services.

Any usage that is still within the agreed allowances will not be restricted. For example, with our unlimited minutes and texts tariffs, customers will still be able to call or text other plan.com and O2 mobiles, local geographic numbers etc. And if a service is still within its data allowance (you may have reached your Spending Cap due to calls), then it can access mobile data as normal until the allowance is exhausted.

CAN A SPENDING CAP BE INCREASED IN ORDER TO REMOVE RESTRICTIONS?

Yes. The service will be sent an SMS at 100% of its Spending Cap limit, which notifies the person using the device of their usage and the restrictions in place. The SMS also gives the service user the opportunity to either purchase a bolt-on (giving them extra allowances) or extend the Spending Cap through one of our Captive Pages.

All services on a customer's account with a Spending Cap that's been reached will have the ability to make these purchases or extend their Spending Cap via Captive Pages unless a restriction is put in place on the service.

To deauthorise a service and remove the ability to extend Spending Caps or purchase bolt-ons, simply call your plan.com partner or speak to plan.com Customer Services on +44(0)3300 88 18 18.

Alternatives to Spending Caps

Spending caps allow you to stay in control of your bill but they're not the only option that's available to plan.com customers.

They are useful for customers who want to control their costs but for some customers, whose business may use data, calls and texts in different ways, or travel abroad, the Spending Cap may not be sophisticated enough to control their costs while keeping their service connected.

We offer a set of tailored notifications and bars on our customer's accounts that apply to individual types of usage. For example, customers can opt for UK data notifications that alert you when they reach 50%, 80% and 100% data usage, and then bar data. This means they are firmly in control of their account while other types of usage such as calls and texts, remain unaffected.

 

It also means roaming usage (data, calls, texts) can be controlled differently to UK usage, which can be important due to the price differences while roaming and the fact that roaming is infrequent.

What's more, our Alerts & Bars system is available to all customers, no matter when they joined or renewed.

To find out more, call plan.com Customer Services on +44(0)3300 88 18 18.

Opting in or out of Spending Caps

How will plan.com customers be notified about the Spending Cap option?

The majority of new or renewing customers will be given the option to set a Spending Cap via the plan.com eContract page.

The page provides all the necessary information that a customer needs to connect with plan.com, including the agreed fixed monthly charges, their business details and the ability to set up a Direct Debit. The contract forms the last stage on this customer page.

Before the customer accesses the contract, and accepts and signs the relevant contractual obligations, information about the Spending Cap and the option to apply a Spending Cap is provided.

Opting in and Out

How are Spending Caps applied to services?

eContracts

When a customer opts into a Spending Cap on the eContract, they select a Spending Cap limit that will be applied to each of their new or renewing services.

This option and amount will then be automatically attached to each service on the connection schedule.

As a partner, you can be reassured that the opt-in has been captured and will be applied to the services in question.

However, you also have the ability to adjust the Spending Cap in the connection schedule for each service if the customer has explicitly instructed you to do so.

You also have the opportunity to deauthorise a service so that it does not get the option to increase a Spending Cap or purchase bolt-ons via Captive Pages. Deauthorised services will still receive Captive Pages, but for informational purposes only. Financial information such as the Spending Cap amount and the amount of additional charges that were incurred to reach the cap, is hidden.

Additional charges - what are they?

Additional charges (sometimes called out-of-bundle costs or overspend) are any chargeable usage outside of the agreed, contracted monthly charge or the purchasing of bolt-ons.

The following examples would contribute towards your Spending Cap:

  • Calls, texts and data usage outside of the monthly allowance (e.g. if you a have a 5GB data allowance and use 6GB of data).
  • Calling and texting non-geographical or premium rate numbers (aside from numbers that are free to call e.g. some charities).
  • Calling and texting international number from the UK.
  • Calling and texting any number outside of our Europe Zone when you're in our Europe Zone (excluding the UK).
  • Calling, texting and using data when you're in a country which is outside of our Europe Zone without a relevant roaming bolt-on.
  • Calling directory enquiry services.
  • MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service - e.g. sending pictures as part of a text message) are not included in your standard tariff.

The following are not included as additional costs and would not contribute towards the Spending Cap:

  • Recurring charges - such as your standard, fixed monthly tariff charge or contractual bolt-ons.
  • The price for purchasing a bolt-on which you opt-sm-in to e.g. Global Data or Daily Explorer.
  • Any charges relating to the management of your account which includes, but is not limited to, paper bills, itemised paper bills, late payment fees and financial adjustments.
  • Any charges for third-party services (our access fees for these services are however covered in your Spending Cap as set out above).

Additional charges -
how much do they cost?

Please refer to the plan.com price guide for a full breakdown of additional charges.

view the pricing guide

Notifications -
what are they?

If a customer chooses to apply a Spending Cap, they will be notified when they reach 50%, 80% and 100% of their Spending Cap limits.

For example, if they choose a £10 Spending Cap, notifications will be sent at £5, £8 and £10. At £10, the Spending Cap will prevent their service from performing any further chargeable call, text or data usage.

Who will be notified and how?
A text message will be sent to the affected service at the intervals outlined above. An email will also be sent to the nominated notification on your account. This may be the company owner, director/principle, bill payer or authorised user.

As a plan.com partner, you can choose who in your team will receive these notifications, and the method in which they are received (email, SMS and/or v4 alert cards).

Captive Pages

Captive Pages –
what are they?

Business customers need to stay firmly in control of their costs while keeping their business online.

Introducing Captive Pages – webpages that give you all the information you need when you hit your Spending Cap, as well as the tools to keep you connected and in control of costs.

Captive Pages are available through an SMS link whenever a service hits its Spending Cap.

They also appear automatically when a mobile data allowance has been exhausted and a spending cap is in place. In these circumstances, Captive pages will launch when an internet browser or app that uses data is accessed. However, they will not show if the service is connected to wifi in these situations.

Captive Pages show you exactly how much data, call, text or roaming additional charges have contributed to your Spending Cap. They also provide options for removing the restrictions that have been in place to prevent any further charges on the account.

Here's how:

Increasing the spending limit

One of the easiest ways to remove the restrictions on a service put in place by a Spending Cap is to increase the spending limit. Captive Pages give the user this ability, allowing them to increase the Spending Cap by a set amount.

Adding bolt-ons
We have a series of great value bolt-ons available to all plan.com customers, which can now be added via Captive Pages!

These include 1GB, 2GB and 5GB Data Boosts (handy if you’re running low or run out of UK/EU mobile data), international calling and text options, and a series of roaming bolt-ons that help keep you connected while travelling outside the EU.

Authorised services
All services on a customer’s account will have the ability to make these purchases or extend the Spending Cap via Captive Pages unless the service is deauthorised from doing so.

Services can be deauthorised which removes the ability to extend Spending Caps or purchase bolt-ons via the v4 portal.

There are two easy ways:

Via a customer card
Log in to v4, locate the customer via the v4 customer feed, and choose 'Services' from the MORE OPTIONS drop down.

You will see an updated pop-up screen that shows all the services for that customer, along with an overview of the Alerts & Bars that each service has in place.

You can authorise or deauthorise a service and amend the bars (and alerts) associated with each service by selecting ’Alerts & Bars’ from the burger menu to the far right of each service.

Customer Card
Service Card

Via a service card
Log in to v4, locate the service via the v4 customer feed (you can search for it by number, IMEI or service label), and choose ’Alerts & Bars’ from the MORE OPTIONS drop down.

You will see an updated pop-up screen that shows the alerts and barring options for that service.

Deauthorised services will still receive captive pages, but for informational purposes only. Financial information, such as the Spending Cap amount and the amount of additional charges that were incurred to reach the cap, is hidden.

FAQs

WHO CAN OPT IN TO A SPENDING CAP?

Any new or renewing customer as of 1 October 2018.

CAN EXISTING CUSTOMERS WHO SIGNED UP PRIOR TO 1 OCTOBER 2018 OPT INTO A SPENDING CAP?

No. But the existing alerts and bars system can be used to keep a customer's account protected, while leaving them in control.

HOW DO CUSTOMERS OPT IN TO A SPENDING CAP?

The option is provided to customers via the eContract. For customers who sign up to plan.com via verbal contracts, the distant reseller is responsible for informing the customer about their options and applying the Spending Cap to the customer’s services if they opt in.

CAN A SPENDING CAP BE USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH OTHER ALERTS AND BARS?

No. Customers who opt in to Spending Caps are not eligible for other types of alerts and bars.

CAN A SPENDING CAP BE APPLIED AFTER THE CONTRACT IS SIGNED?

Yes. As long as the service(s) in question is new or has been renewed as of 1 October 2018.

CAN SPENDING CAPS BE REMOVED OR ADJUSTED?

Yes. With the explicit permission of the customer, Spending Caps can be adjusted or removed (i.e. given no limit).

IF A CUSTOMER OPTS IN TO A SPENDING CAP, ARE ALL THEIR SERVICES OPTED IN?

Only services that are added or renewed as of 1 October 2018 are eligible for a service cap. So, if a customer has 10 services and a new service is added (or just one service is renewed), only the eligible service will have the Spending Cap option.

IF A CUSTOMER OPTS IN TO A SPENDING CAP, ARE ALL THEIR SERVICES OPTED IN?

No. The system benefits tens of thousands of existing plan.com services. For some customers the existing alerts and bars are preferable to Spending Caps because they provide 50%, 80% and 100% usage alerts prior to going out of bundle, and clearly differentiate between roaming and domestic usage.