Customers who receive faulty goods will no longer need to pay high charges to call and file complaints, the government recently announced.
To the delight of customers across the UK, Ofcom has announced that the charges involved with calling businesses will become much clearer as major changes to phone charges will be introduced.
According to Ofcom, the new changes will not only make it easier for customers to understand the cost of whatever call they are making, but the costs associated with calling customer helplines will also be reduced.
Currently, customers are charged up to 41p per minute when they call customer helplines. Although some companies do not charge customers for making such calls, others use 084 or 087 prefixes, which come at a cost to consumers.
Typically, customer service numbers with these prefixes are used by online retailers, High Street retailers, train operators, and airlines.
Beginning in June 2018, customers calling to make a complaint about an incorrect plane ticket or a faulty toaster oven will only need to pay the basic rate, because a cap will be placed on premium rate charges in an effort to help protect customers from rogue operators that tend to impose unnecessarily high charges.
Many companies across the UK are attempting to lure new customers in by offering them an 800 number or a free phone. However, once customers purchase the goods, they are forced to pay to make a call.
If using a landline, a two-minute phone call to an 084 number can cost upwards of 36p. Mobile users can pay up to 82p.
“From next year, if something goes wrong with a cooker or commuters want a refund on their season ticket, they will now pay the same to phone a helpline as they do to call friends and family,” Consumer Minister Jo Swinson declared.
As it currently stands, the new regulations will not apply to financial service companies. However, similar restrictions on charges issued by banks and insurance companies are also being considered by the Financial Conduct Authority.
In preparation for the changes to come, some banks, such as RBS and Barclays, have already declared that they will switch their helplines over to basic rate customer helplines.
Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive, said, “These changes will be the biggest for UK telephone customers in more than a decade. We expect them to restore people’s confidence in using phone services, and to increase competition.”