Banks need to axe premium phone lines

18 November 2013

banks Banks, credit card companies and insurers are being urged to get rid of their premium rate phone lines for customers by Which!!! Almost three quarters of companies have 084 or 087 numbers, which is costing needless money to customers.

The Which!!! study found that 177 out of 242 (or 73%) customer or complaints lines for financial services were premium-rate numbers, including HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Nationwide and TSB Bank, as well as American Express, Capital One and Tesco Bank and insurers Aviva, Churchill and Direct Line.

Nearly all of the credit card providers the study looked at (95%) use 084 or 087 numbers for complaints or customer service help lines. It is almost like they're trying to discourage people to get in touch with them isn't it?

Furthermore, existing customers are being hit harder as free 0800 numbers tend to be reserved for potential customers, with 0800 numbers used for 52% of sales or new customer lines compared with a piddling 26% for existing customers and 21% for complaints.

Barclays and Barclaycard have said they'll be offering freephone or basic rate numbers for all customer help lines, and NatWest and RBS are also said to be joining suit. Obviously, other finance companies need to start doing the same and with the EU Consumer Rights Directive's ban on the use of expensive numbers for customer help lines coming into play in 2014, it is good news for all. However, this directive has bafflingly excluded finance firms.

Which!!! are calling on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to sort this out, with executive director Richard Lloyd saying: "Millions of us prefer to deal with our bank on the phone, yet we are expected to cough up for a costly call when we do. It's not right that financial companies are being let off the hook."

TOPICS:   Banking   Investments   Complaints

7 comments

  • Tits M.
    I've just glad Richard Lloyd didn't come out with the usual 'hardworking people..... squeezed budget....' patronising shite. Banks are trying to make profits, close down one avenue of making money, and they'll just recoup it elsewhere, same as any industry.
  • ian
    When a business moves from an 084 number to the matching 034 number or to a new 033 number, the cost to that business goes UP by about 1p or 2p per minute for each call. However, the cost to the caller goes DOWN by anything up to 12p/min from a landline and goes DOWN by anything up to 41p/min from a mobile phone. If the caller has an "inclusive" call plan, the 03 call effectively becomes "free". This applies whether the caller is using a landline or a mobile phone. By using an 084 number, not only does the business force the caller to pay the call-handling and final-leg call-routing costs for their non-geographic number (meaning the business runs the number at little or no cost to themselves), the business also leaves the caller exposed to other parties taking a cut of the call revenue by ramping up the call cost. By using an 03 number, the business ensures that no caller ever pays more than they would had they called an 01 or 02 number. Additionally, an 03 number offers exactly the same call-handling and call-queueing features as an 08 or 09 number. However, on an 03 number, the cost of those call-features is borne entirely by the business, not foisted on the customer through a Service Charge built into an inflated call price, as happens with 084 numbers.
  • Johnnie W.
    Sorry Ian, far too many words there.
  • ian
    It's 240 words. How many should it have been?
  • blagga
    Or just use saynoto0870 like a non-mug
  • Peter F.
    Richard Lloyd looks like the foreceps were held a little too tight, and too long at birth. Actually, come to think of it he looks a bit like a Vulcan from StarTrek! @ian Too long man.
  • ian
    "03 is, like, cheaper. And 084 is, like, more expensive. Innit". Perhaps that is about the right length to match your reading level?

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