Nearly three quarters of the phone numbers used by financial firms for customer service or complaint lines are 084 or 087. That’s wrong – you shouldn’t have to cough up for costly calls to make a complaint.
I keep a close eye on my finances, and while I’ve never had too many issues with my bank, last summer I noticed an unusual charge on my credit card. Worried that something was up, and knowing I couldn’t get to any of their branches, I wanted to find out what it was.
As it turned out, there had been an error and the charge was removed as soon as I flagged it. However, when my phone bill arrived, I was incensed to find out that it had cost me a couple of quid for the privilege of complaining.
Financial firms charging customers to complain
We know that four in ten people prefer to call financial firms with an enquiry, and understandably so. But our latest research shows that whether you’re contacting your high street bank, your credit card provider or an insurance company, it’s pretty hard to avoid paying a premium.
We looked at phone numbers used by companies for everything from current accounts to credit cards and found that 177 out of 242 customer service or complaint lines used pricey 084 or 087 numbers.
It doesn’t help that new customers are often given a freephone 0800 number to call! The message seems to be that they don’t need to charge you to get your business, but they’re happy to do so once you’re a valued customer.
A ban on costly calls
A new EU law, the Consumer Rights Directive, will stop companies charging anything more than the basic rate for customer helplines in 2014. Unfortunately, financial firms aren’t covered. We don’t think that’s right, so we’re calling on the Financial Conduct Authority to take action and bring them into line with everyone else.
Almost 60,000 people have already signed our Costly Calls campaign and their support is already having an effect. Barclays, Barclaycard, RBS and Natwest have announced that they will soon offer freephone and 03 numbers for all their customer phone lines.
With two of the biggest banking groups now leading the way by offering freephone or geographic numbers, we hope this is a tipping point – there’s really no excuse for other providers not to follow suit.
If you think it’s wrong that you have to pay through the nose to call your bank or mortgage provider, sign our petition and then tell us why you want to see an end to costly calls in the comments below.
Should financial firms be allowed to use expensive customer helplines?
No – customers should not be charged excessively (100%, 4,716 Votes)
Yes – it’s fine for them to charge customers (0%, 11 Votes)
I don’t mind (0%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 4,738