The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will move to prevent financial firms from using high-rate telephone numbers for their customer service and complaint lines.
In a huge win for the 87,000+ supporters of our Costly Calls campaign, the regulator has called for banks and insurers to scrap expensive 084 and 087 phone numbers for these phonelines.
It also agreed to launch a consultation proposing for all calls to financial customer service and complaints lines to be capped at the basic rate.
In a letter to our chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith, FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley said: ‘We share Which?’s concerns that customers often have to use expensive phone lines when calling firms after the point of sale.
‘We also agree that the principles relating to telephone calls in the Consumer Rights Directive should be applied to financial services firms, as well as in other sectors.’
Go further: Read the FCA’s response in full – a scan of the letter to Which? CEO Peter-Vicary Smith
Another win in our Costly Calls campaign
The announcement represents the latest of many victories in our Costly Calls campaign.
It follows the government’s decision to include travel firms’ and public services’ phone numbers in the Consumer Rights Directive that bans high-rate numbers.
Reacting to the FCA’s latest announcement, Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said: ‘We’re pleased the FCA agrees customers shouldn’t have to pay a premium to talk to their bank or insurer.
‘Changing the rules so financial firms can only offer basic rate helplines would be a big win for the 87,000 people who supported our campaign.
‘Some of the biggest banks have already dropped costly calls so there is no reason why others shouldn’t follow their lead. We’d like to see all financial services firms change to basic rate lines as soon as possible, and not wait until new rules come into effect.’
Go further: Alternatives to 0845 and 0870 – how to avoid these costly phone numbers
FCA to investigate complaints-handling procedures
The FCA will also use this consultation to look at how financial firms can improve their complaints handling.
This will involve a response to the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.
The results of this consultation are due to be published later this year.
Go further: How to avoid costly calls – additional advice from our consumer rights team