/ Money

Financial firms are still charging customers to complain

Mobile phone next to coins and credit card

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

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Comments
Guest
Paul Coffin says:
17 November 2013

Have you looked at share register companies? Equiniti, Capita, Computershare. They use a lot of 0845 numbers despite the fact a share register is a public register. They are also trying to use their registers to develop business eg share brokerage. They are making it easier for the consumer to buy and sell shares through themselves which is an abuse of their position.

Guest
Patrick Boys says:
18 November 2013

Also I have just sold my Royal Mail shares through Equiniti and they charged me £45 for selling my 227 shares, absolutely outrageous and I seemed to have no other option.

Guest

Why doesn’t “Which” do some research as to the cheapest way to sell small holdings of shares such as those of the Post Office?

Guest

Yes, I would support the idea of Which? surveying the cost of selling small batches of shares. I have tried to GIVE my small quantity of Eurotunnel shares to a charity, but the cost of GIVING them to a charity is more than the shares are worth!

Guest

Equiniti’s listed number for those who want to “voice your concerns” is 0871…. which they helpfully show as costing 8p/min plus network extras! They do list their email address.
As I understand it a dealing form was issued with PO shares for those who wanted to sell immediately at 0.75% charge (+ stamp duty 0.5%). Alternatively keep and deal through their registrar Equiniti at 1% dealing charge. Was there a catch to this then? Since it is predicted the shares will pay a first year dividend of £45, a return of around 6%, I wonder why you would want to sell.
I would like to see an incentive for share buyers to hold longer term so they are investing in companies rather than gambling. It is reassuring that both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Gambling Commission have 0800 and 0121 numbers.
Sorry to digress.

Guest
Kay Forsyth says:
19 November 2013

Equiniti have charged me £80 in total for 3 cheques representing outstanding entitlements. They would not reply to any of my letters so the only way I have managed to get the money owed is by telephoning them which cost 8p per min plus network extras.

Guest

Equiniti usually publishes a parallel Birmingham (0121) number for callers from outside the UK, particularly as many shareholders are in practice based outside the UK. Therefore use this number instead; that’s what I do.

Guest

The European Commission were negligent for deliberately exempting financial services without good reason from Article 21 of Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Rights. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills were similarly at fault for preserving this unwarranted exemption when enacting the legislation in the UK under Regulation 39 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013. This ban on surcharged telephone numbers should apply across all industries; there is no justification for any industry to be exempt, whether it be financial services, passenger transport services, healthcare, estate agents or gambling. Unfortunately all these industries have been given an unreasonable exemption, not only in the UK but across the EEA.

If a business wishes to charge its customers for services, it should do so transparently and not disguise its fees within charges for a telephone calls.

Guest
Ian01 says:
17 November 2013

When implementing an EU Directive, nation states cannot add extra provisions over and above those contained within the Directive. Check the rules surrounding “gold plating”.

Financial institutions are covered by a separate stream of EU Directives to those covering businesses. However, if the UK is to cover financial services with provisions involving telephone numbers, it is the FCA that will have to do it, not BIS.

Guest

That’s not true. A member state can add additional provisions, but cannot remove provisions. For example, BIS proposes to extend the scope of Article 21 to cover social services, healthcare, package travel and timeshare (all of which are exempt from Article 21), but has chosen to preserve the exemption for the other industries such as financial services.

Given that no legislation covering financial services contains any provisions of Article 21, it made no sense to provide an exemption to this industry. There is no good reason why Article 21 couldn’t apply to all industries with no exemptions whatsoever.

Guest

What I don’t understand is why do people call companies in the first place? We can tweet them and ask them to call us.

I even tweeted the Nationwide who is my bank and asked them to call me last week. I don’t want to rack up a phone bill.

That’s what is amazing about Twitter. There is really no point in calling companies anymore. We are in 2013, not the 1960’s lol

Guest

Most UK banks don’t yet offer a secure messaging service, although some are planning to do so. I would never communicate with my bank openly in the public domain for all to see, even if just to request a call back. Twitter is not an appropriate communication channel for banking.

Guest

I don’t see whats wrong with tweeting “@Bank can someone call me please? will DM you my phone number”.

Very simple and saves a phone bill, saves waiting to speak to someone, saves on hold music and for me it makes me money too.

Guest

When someone calls you and says they’re from you bank, how are you going to verify that is actually the case? You can’t rely on what is shown as the Calling Line Identity.

Guest

I don’t have Calling Line Identity as I have a corded phone that use not use electricity.

Normally I tweet my bank, DM my phone number, they call and say “Hello I’m Jenny from the Nationwide, I am calling in reply to your tweet” and I tell them what I need from them. They then reply via the Nationwide online bank message system.

So really simple, very quick and it makes me about £0.85 – £1.70 per call.

Guest

I think we’re all forgetting the real reason that Lee prefers a callback – he has an 0871 number from which he earns revenue on incoming calls! 😉

Guest

Lol, I have to admit that is one of the main reasons. But it’s also nice to speak to someone right away. No need to listen to on hold music or waiting to even speak to someone in the first place 🙂

Guest

I’ve emailed indesit ( who use 0844 number) twice in the last month, and had nothing back. I’ve since sent them a message on facebook and again nothing.

I’d like to therefore ring them but won’y as 0844 numbers aren’t covered by my call package.

Some companies may seem to have an online presence but clearly they don’t take it seriously.

Guest

I have just searched for them on Twitter and they look like they talk to people (@IndesitUK) I would give that ago if i was you 🙂

Guest

You are lucky to find an email address, more and more companies are hiding their contact details forcing you to ring them

Guest
David says:
18 November 2013

You can also add EE who have the nerve to require us to use premium rate numbers when it’s their system that’s faulty (which is very often, by the way) and keep us hanging on forever – or until we give up. Truly not my idea of customer ‘service’.

Guest

If a business sells goods or services via its web site, then Regulation 6(1)(c) of the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 obliges it to publish its e-mail address. This is one of the most widely flouted pieces of legislation, yet enforcement authorities take no action against the errant businesses, mainly of whom are very large.

Guest

Lee

Have you tweeted Ryanair yet and managed to get them to phone you back?

Guest

Not yet, I forgot tbh lol. I have tweeted Indesit and going to see if they call me back. I will try Ryanair as a test too.

Guest

David, for EE, just dial 01707 315000 from a fixed line or 150 from any EE/Orange/T-Mobile SIM card. They will put you through to any department within the EE group.

Guest
peter walshe says:
18 November 2013

Hi Lee, it is possible that you are missing the point entirely and your “i’m alright Jack” attitude doesn’t take into consideration the millions of people in this country that don’t have the ability (for what ever reason) to access and use the likes twitter, face ache and all the other forms of social networking.

Whilst I on the other hand do, in certain circumstances still I prefer to speak to a bone fide customer services clerk. As may already have been mentioned, certain gov’t agencies are still in the dark ages with customer contact technology and IT in general, so there is no choice but to call them.

I object to a) calling any company for customer service that charges for inbound calls to boost their bottom line profits (covering the costs of customer help – is only a smoke screen) & b) calling gov’t agencies when I have to, where they are charging me for the experience, when I have paid for this service already through my hard earned taxes.

Guest

If you get a call from indesit, and have nothing genuine to talk about yourself.

You can ask them if their online shopping cart accepts credit cards with a 2013 start date. It didn’t as of last week when I messaged them on facebook. And in a little over 7 weeks they’ll need to accept 2014.

Thank you 🙂

Guest

William, Ok, i will ask them if they call me 🙂

Peter. I am speaking for the 25 and under age group. I can no comment on what people older than my age group may feel about matters 🙂

Guest
Janet Matthams says:
18 November 2013

What about those who do not have a computer? Many elderly people and those on very low incomes do not have access to computers, and many do not know how to use them.

Guest

Like a say Janet. I can not speak for the elderly as I am a young 25 year old and can only speak for my age group 🙂

Guest
Peter Phillips says:
18 November 2013

Thanks for the tip you patronising person – I am 84 a bit before those 60’s lot

Guest

Peter, I am sorry if you feel like I am being patronizing. But I’m not sure how I am being. All I am saying if all I can speak for is my age group and that’s all?

Guest

Hi all, just stepping in here for a friendly word of warning – everyone has their own opinion so let’s respect one another.

We would still argue that for those who want to call to complain or get help, they should not be paying a premium. And many people do rely on being able to call, and so those people should not be at a disadvantage compared to those who are savvy online and on social media. Though, as Lee knows, we love seeing good customer service on sites like Twitter. But it’s not the be all and end all 🙂