Banks banned from using premium-rate helplines

23 July 2015
Banks and all other financial services firms have been banned from charging customers premium rates to call their helplines. The rule laid down by the regulator will come into effect as of 26 October and includes all 'post-sale' calls from customers in need of assistance. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA's) confirmed to Moneywise that the move will mean banks will have to update debit and credit cards displaying such premium-rate numbers. The new numbers will have to be displayed on all cards issued from 26 October 2015. It added that it "wouldn't be proportionate" to make the banks re-issue all cards but it is understood that financial services companies will have to inform customers calling the old premium-rate numbers that a cheaper alternative is available. The rule change is part of action being taken by the FCA to improve informal complaint handling. This also includes tripling the time financial companies have to resolve customer complaints before a customer can ask the Financial Ombudsman Service to investigate from one to three days. Better and easier resolutionsThe FCA said the increased time will "allow for better and easier resolution for a greater number of complaints, benefiting both consumers and firms". For complaints resolved during the three-day period, companies will have to send customers "a simpler, template message" that will "inform the complainant of their right to take their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service". The regulator added it expects the change to "result in fewer consumers having to take their complaints further". Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: "Our rules will help deliver the quicker, easier and fairer resolution to complaints that consumers want."

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