Travel companies charging rip-off prices for calls to customer helplines

Travellers are being advised to be wary of phoning their chosen travel provider. A report by Which? Travel magazine has revealed that 28 per cent of the 188 companies included in the study use expensive 0871 or 090 calling codes.

Calls to low-cost airline Ryanair’s “priority assistance line” were found to be the priciest, at an extortionate £1 a minute from a landline. Rival Wizz Air charges its customers 77p, while BMIbaby charges 65p for calls to its sales team, and both and Air Malta charge 60p.

A further 24 per cent of the companies use 0843, 0844 or 0845 numbers that can also cost as much as 41p a minute from a mobile, researchers found.

“We want to see companies stop charging high rates for telephone lines customers need to use to get in touch. One of our team was on the phone for more than an hour to an airline recently and his experience will not be unique,” stated acting assistant editor of Which?, Chris Gray. “If you are paying through the nose while hanging on the telephone, it is just another rip-off.”

Before getting in touch with any company using the expensive dialling codes listed, consult FAQs on the company’s website or communicate via e-mail. Charges for calls made from a mobile phone are even higher. Clear pricing advice is not given in most cases as charges differ from network to network.

Other tricks used by budget airlines to rake in the pennies are extra legroom, early boarding, lounge access, insurance and car hire. A common tool used by 20 per cent of companies assessed is automatic “opt-ins” where consumers have to tick a box to avoid various surcharges.

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