ditches premium phone rate ditches premium phone rate has been identified by consumer watchdog Which? as the worst offender for charging high rate telephone numbers for customer services or complaints.

The carrier charges 60p per minute on an 09 premium rate number for its general enquiries helpline, according to Which?. last night announced it would start charging general enquiries at national rates, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The airline said it had decided to drop its premium rate call line as part of a “wider review” now that its call centres are moving from South Africa to Leeds.

A spokeswoman insisted the timing had nothing to do with the Which? probe.

Airlines including Ryanair, Monarch Airlines, Flybe, KLM, Aer Lingus and Lufthansa also use 0871 numbers for reservations, complaints or other customer enquiries.

Fifteen of the biggest train operators use 0844 or 0845 numbers for their customer helplines.

Following an investigation of 76 firms, Which? renewed a call for travel companies to be subject to the EU Consumer Rights Directive. This states that customer helplines must be charged at no more than the basic rate.

The government is currently consulting on whether to include travel, timeshare and package travel in the ban.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Going on holiday is meant to be a pleasure but there is nothing fun about being whacked with a costly call.

“It’s a disgrace that people face bumper bills just to ask a question or make a complaint about their travel booking.

“The government should close the loophole that allows travel companies to use costly phone numbers without delay.”

Other findings from the travel investigation include:

  • 24 of 38 airlines give high rate numbers for customers to call for customer service or to complain
  • 11 ferry companies give 0871, 0872, 0845 or 0843 numbers for customers to call for customer service
  • Typically the 0871 in the travel sector cost at least 10p per minute to call from a landline, but could be substantially more from a mobile phone. 0844 and 0871 numbers are not included as standard in inclusive call packages from landlines or mobiles.
  • Coach firms National Express and Eurolines use 0871 numbers for both customer service or complaints. Green Line also uses an 0844 number for both, while Megabus has an 0871 number for customer service.


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