Time to dump premium-rate?

June 1, 2009

The thought of ringing up a mega-corporation with a query or complaint elicits a mental – and at times even audible – groan from among the most stoic of people.

The frustrations felt at wasted time spent pushing buttons on the dial pad leading to endless tedious messages in the hope of reaching an employee with a modicum of knowledge is often compounded by the thought that there is a financial cost for the effort.

Why should customers pay for this inconvenience which leads only to make profit for corporations and serve as a deterrent to obtaining good service?

At least some relief will soon be offered by Talk Talk, the phone company owned by Carphone Warehouse, which will be offering free calls to all 0845 and 0870 numbers as of June 2, 2009.

Although such services are regulated by PhonepayPlus, overseen by communications industry regulator Ofcom, various media firms have been investigated for irregularities to do with using these numbers.

Among several high-profile cases over the years, you will recall the 2008 scandals involving the BBC and ITV. Ofcom fined ITV 5.68 million pounds for cheating viewers over phone-in competitions they could never win and the BBC admitted it failed to pay more than 100,000 pounds to charity from calls viewers made to premium-rate phonelines.

Paying for calls to premium-rate numbers helps ensure that large companies remain impenetrable and unaccountable to their customers.

What do you think? Should premium-rate calls be abolished?

One comment

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I do not think that corporations should be able to duck customer service responsibilities this way. Too many companies put up all kinds of hurdles. Sometimes all you want to do is ask a question. As consumers we need to vote with our feet when possible.

Posted by tracey | Report as abusive