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Technical support lines exposed as costly

Which? Computing exposes high cost of tech support

Which Computing March-09

A Which? Computing investigation has found that calling technical support lines can be a costly experience.

The magazine found that 32 of the 45 technology companies surveyed use higher-cost numbers for their helplines with a handful using premium rate 090 numbers.

Four companies including Tesco broadband and internet service provider (ISP) Supanet use 090 numbers which are the most expensive numbers available.

Tesco has said that it is now planning to change to a cheaper tariff as soon as possible.

‘The cost of calls to Tesco broadband technical support is something we’ve been looking at and listening to customer feedback on,’ said a Tesco spokeswoman.

‘As a result we’ll continue to provide a very high quality of technical expertise to all our broadband customers but calls will now be charged at a local rate.

‘We’ll be contacting all our customers as soon as possible to let them know about the change in price,’ she said.

Only six ISPs Which? Computing surveyed offer a freephone 0800 number including BT, Waitrose, and O2.

Frustration with customer support is felt by nearly a third of broadband users, says the magazine, with dissatisfaction with the time it takes to speak to someone one of the major gripes with the service.

Which? Computing found that the average wait to speak to someone on an ISP technical support line is 1 minute 33 seconds. Plusnet customers have the longest average wait of nearly eight minutes; though during the research one researcher had to wait 12 and a half minutes for Plusnet to pick up the phone.

There’s a growing demand for technical support. Security software manufacturer Norton calculates that, on average, one million people in the UK call its technical support helpline every month.

Which? Computing editor Sarah Kidner says: ‘Some companies are using higher-cost numbers at their customers’ expense. It’s great to see a huge company like Tesco broadband cutting the cost of a call to its support line following our investigation. After all, every little helps.’

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