UK consumers are being stung by several top holiday brands - including airlines, hotels and travel operators - which are using premium numbers for bookings and enquiries, according to fair telecoms campaigner RightCall.
Despite the fact that the majority of travel companies have now moved to Freephone and standard-rate 0345-numbers for existing customers, new customers who are unaware of the costs involved are being hit with inflated phone bills and hidden costs.
Some of the companies that RightCall has identified as using premium rate numbers include Travelodge, P&O Cruises, Great Western Railway, Thomas Cook and United Airways.
Independent research has forcasted the total service charge for 2015-2016 as approximately £356 million, but RightCall has predicted that the associated access charge by mobile operators could hit £2 billion.
“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. “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.”
Zamir added: “It is quite outrageous that the middlemen – the companies who control the telecoms infrastructure – get away with charging an 800 per cent 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."
Image Credit: Elena Elisseeva / Shutterstock