Do you say no to 0870 and other pricey numbers? Sometimes it’s not always easy, especially when new customers are given free numbers to call a bank, while existing customers are told to call paid-for numbers.
And what about numbers for disabled people to call to get information in Braille or use a textphone if they are hearing or speech-impaired? Shouldn’t they be freephone numbers too?
We recently discovered a number of misleading leaflets in branches of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB and HSBC. They appeared to advertise 0845 and 0870 numbers for new customers wanting information in Braille or to use a textphone, but 0800 numbers for other new customers.
All three banks told us that this was either a mistake in their leaflets or the result of confusing wording and that they did not discriminate between disabled and other customers. But we think they should take more care with their publications.
Existing customers made to pay
HSBC said that all new customers are given 0800 numbers to call while all existing customers are given 0845 numbers, which raises another question. Why are loyal customers penalised for calling their bank?
A quick look at the websites of these three banks confirms that they all give 0800 numbers for new customers to call to apply for a current account and other products while many of the numbers for existing customers start with 0845 or 0870.
These numbers can cost up to 10p a minute from landlines, although some providers include the cost of these in their call packages, and as much as 40p from mobiles. Look at our guide on how to avoid 0870 and 0845 numbers for ways around them.
Should new customers get special treatment?
Is it understandable that banks want to do everything they can to encourage new customers to call them but are less bothered about existing ones? Would giving everyone freephone numbers just push the cost of banks’ services up for everyone?
Or should existing customers be treated the same as new ones – or even better since they give the bank their custom?