Travel firms should send costly calls packing70% of transport companies use expensive numbers

10 October 2013

Costly Calls campaign logo

Which? is calling on travel companies to hang up on costly calls after we found 70% of travel firms using high rate telephone numbers for customer services or complaints.

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

We found using an 09 premium rate number at 60p per minute for its general enquiries helpline. Within hours of our research being unveiled, Jet2 announced it was dropping the 09 number from 20 October and replacing it with a national rate number.

Which? costly calls campaign

Our research, carried out as part of the Which? costly calls campaign, also found 15 of the biggest train operators and 24 of the 38 airlines we looked at using 0844 or 0845 numbers for their customer helplines.

Following our investigation into 76 travel firms, Which? is renewing its calls for travel companies to be subject to the EU Consumer Rights Directive (CRD), which 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, and Which? has made a formal submission asking for the sector to be brought into the ban.

Phone bill disgrace

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: '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 our travel investigation included 11 ferry companies giving 087 or 084 numbers for customers to call customer service, and coach firms National Express and Eurolines using 0871 numbers for both customer service or complaints.

Even when companies do use expensive telephone numbers there are ways to avoid running up a big bill when you need to contact them. Find out how to avoid costly calls. 

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