Banks urged to cut premium rate phone bills for customers

Tim Wallace
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CONSUMERS are being ripped off by high rate phone charges used by their banks and credit card providers, said consumer group Which?, in a new drive to cut or end the premium rate bills.

It comes at Barclays and RBS announced they will offer free or basic-rate phone lines to customers.

“With two of the biggest banking groups now leading the way by offering freephone or geographic numbers, we hope this is a tipping point for the banking sector – there’s really no excuse for other providers not to follow suit,” said Richard Lloyd from Which?

“It’s not right that financial companies are being let off the hook. The FCA must act now to put an end to costly calls in this sector.”

However the FCA does not have the power to force banks to stop using premium rate numbers.

The lenders must currently let customers complain for free, but there are no controls on the type of number offered for other services.

A study by Which? found 95 per cent of credit card firms surveyed use premium rate numbers, while 89 per cent of current account numbers are also higher-rate.

For mortgage customers, 75 per cent of lines are premium, while the figure drops to 49 per cent for payday loan customers.