Premium rate customer service telephone lines to be banned
The UK government has announced that it is to ban premium rate customer service telephone lines after unveiling draft proposals which would force firms to offer normal landline rates for consumers. This would affect companies such as PC World, Argos and the Royal Mail but call centres operated by banks, train operators and Whitehall departments would be exempt. The crackdown on 084 and 087 numbers has been led by consumer minister Jo Swinson in order to prevent situations whereby customers phoning up to complain are forced to pay over the odds. It is estimates that such practices cost UK consumers up to £2bn a year and accounted for 12 per cent of total call traffic volume and ten per cent of total revenues. Commenting on the measure Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: “It’s unbelievable that companies would add insult to injury by charging their customers a premium to make a complaint. The proposals to end this practice are long overdue, so it’s encouraging to see the Government tackling this issue."