RightCall, a fair telecoms campaigner, has today announced that UK consumers are being stung by mobile phone companies and top holiday brands using premium numbers for bookings and enquiries. These brands include airlines and airports, travel agents, train lines, ferry crossings, car rentals and hotel groups. Yet, despite Government legislation introduced in June 2014 that effectively bans these businesses from using non-geographic numbers to service existing customers…
RightCall, a fair telecoms campaigner, has today announced that UK consumers are being stung by mobile phone companies and top holiday brands using premium numbers for bookings and enquiries. These brands include airlines and airports, travel agents, train lines, ferry crossings, car rentals and hotel groups. Yet, despite Government legislation introduced in June 2014 that effectively bans these businesses from using non-geographic numbers to service existing customers, consumers are still being stung by premium rate numbers in use within the travel industry.
Although most travel companies have now moved to Freephone and standard-rate 0345-numbers for existing customers, new customers can still suffer inflated phone bills and hidden costs when planning and booking their breaks. For example, a booking call to Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) could cost you more than £7 before you’ve even spoken to an operator.
RightCall’s independent research shows consumers are confused by the charges for calling different numbers. They don’t always know which numbers are free or local rate and are unaware that some calls are potentially costing them a fortune.
The travel companies that RightCall has identified as using premium rate numbers for some bookings and enquiries include:
Cruises / Ferries:
Cross Country Trains
Great Western Railway
Hertz Car Rentals
Sun Ray Holidays
"Everyone looks forward to their holidays, but coming home to a massive phone bill can really taint the experience," said Naufal Zamir, CEO of RightCall. "Many consumers don’t even realise they’re calling expensive premium numbers, let alone that they could be paying more than 50 pence per minute for the privilege until they receive their phone bill some days or even weeks later. The underlying problem is not the service charge paid to the travel companies, which is well advertised by the company you are calling – a welcome result of the new Ofcom regulations. What makes it extortionate most of the time is the access charge that mobile companies charge on top."
RightCall has created an app to address mobile companies’ extortionate access charge fees. According to independent research3 the total service charge forecasted for 2015-2016 is approximately £365m. RightCall predicts the associated access charge by mobile operators could be as much as £2bn.
Zamir added: "It is quite outrageous that the middlemen – the companies who control the telecoms infrastructure – get away with charging an 800% mark-up. Ofcom was spot-on in introducing the latest July 2015 regulations to clarify the call charges for consumer, but it should have also restricted the mobile networks from setting extortionate access charges. We would welcome the opportunity to talk to any travel company about how we can work together to help them help their customers save money."
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