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Most travel firms expensive to call


By Kev Kiernan

Almost three-quarters of travel companies are forcing their customers to use expensive phone lines when they wish to make a complaint, a consumer rights group has revealed.

This is despite the EU consumer rights directive stating that helplines must charge the basic rate for a phone call.

Which? said it is "a disgrace" that 70% of travel companies are using the premium-rate numbers which customers have no choice but to use if they want to speak about their holiday arrangements.

The consumer rights organisation renewed its demand for such firms to be subject to the European law.

Worst offender is Jet2

The worst offender is said to be Jet2. Anyone calling the firm about general inquiries have to dial a premium-rate 09 number and get charged 60p per minute.

Aer Lingus, FlyBe, KLM, Lufthansa, Monarch and Ryanair also make their customers phone expensive 0871 numbers to book a plane seat, make a complaint or general inquiry.

Which? pointed out that the biggest train companies also have premium phone lines which customers must call if they wish to receive any service.

People should not be hit by large phone bills just because they get in touch with companies to make an inquiry or complaint, Which? said.

High-rate numbers

The group's research uncovered 24 out of 38 airlines which use the high-rate numbers for customer services or complaints.

It also found 11 ferry operators whose customer inquiry lines come with 0871, 0872, 0843 or 0845 prefixes.

Certain major bus companies also use premium-rate lines which customers need to use to receive any service, with National Express and Eurolines using 0871 numbers for both complaints and customer services.

Green Line customers must dial an 0844 number if they wish to discuss anything with the firm and Megabus customers need to call an 0871 number.

Anyone calling an 0871 number from a landline will be charged 10p a minute but using a mobile phone will be substantially more expensive, Which? pointed out.

Phone companies tend not to include 0844 and 0871 numbers in any landline or mobile packages they sell to customers.

'A disgrace'

The consumer group says the government needs to make the EU directive apply to the travel industry as soon as possible.

Richard Lloyd from Which? 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."

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