Travel companies are supposed to give you memories that last a lifetime, not phone bills that take a lifetime to pay off! We found 70% of travel firms using expensive phone numbers for their customer helplines.
I’m happy booking my travel online, but if I’ve got a problem after booking I want to talk to someone. I’m not happy sending off an email into a corporate black hole – I want a person I can talk to and, if necessary, argue with.
So I find it infuriating that so many travel companies use expensive 084 and 087 phone numbers for their customer service and complaints lines. And some even use premium rate 09 numbers! This can make it feel like they’re just trying to discourage you from calling them in the first place. In fact, two-thirds of people think that’s exactly why companies use such expensive numbers.
And I know the impact these pricey phone lines can have. I was once sent a mobile phone bill that left me blinking in disbelief. It was about four times as much as I’d normally pay each month and I couldn’t work out why until I spotted the 08 numbers on the bill. I’d been calling holiday company reservation numbers, which is bad enough, but if I’d run up a high bill from calling customer services I would have been truly shocked.
Travel firms charging premium rates
Our latest research found that of the 76 travel firms we looked at, 70% were using expensive numbers for their complaints and customer lines. These included 24 airlines serving the UK, 15 of the biggest train operators, 11 ferry companies and four coach companies!
We typically found airlines using 0871 numbers, which cost at least 10p a minute from a landline but substantially more if you’re calling from a mobile.
We even found Jet2.com using a 09 premium rate number for its general enquiries line, costing 60p a minute!
Happily, Jet2 announced today that it’s going to scrap its 09 number in favour of a number that’ll charge no more than the national rate.
We want all costly customer phone lines banned
At the moment travel companies aren’t included in the EU Consumer Rights Directive, which says that customer helplines shouldn’t charge more than the basic rate.
The government’s currently consulting on whether to include travel, timeshare and package travel in the ban. And so we’re renewing our call on the government to close this loophole without delay. Travel firms should not be allowed to hit their customers with bumper bills when they just want to ask a question or make a complaint about their travel booking.
You can help increase the pressure by taking a trip over to our Costly Calls campaign and adding your name to our petition. More than 50,000 people have already signed.
Have you had to call a high-rate 09, 087 or 084 phone number just to talk to a travel company? Whether it was an airline, train operator or cruise ship company – tell us your experiences of costly calls.
Should travel firms be exempt from a ban on expensive customer helplines?
No - travel companies should not be exempt (94%, 1,796 Votes)
Yes - travel companies should be exempt (5%, 105 Votes)
I don't mind either way (1%, 14 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,915