Banks need to axe premium phone lines
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."