Consumer champion Direct Save Telecom has introduced a bill monitoring service for all their customers to protect them against needlessly high telecom costs. If there is any fluctuation or abnormal activity on a bill, a member of Direct Save’s UK based customer care team contacts the client in question to make sure they are made aware of it.
Direct Save customer, Avril Ellis, from Loughborough, who has been a customer with Direct Save Telecom since September 2009, had a bad experience recently when her son dialled a directory services. A call that should have cost just 79p ended up costing over £11 for a 7 minute call because he agreed to be directly connected. There was no warning from the service that connection would be charged at a high call rate.
Mrs Ellis explains: “My son, Tom, dialled a directory enquiries service to get a telephone number, and was put straight through to the number and we did not think anymore about it. We knew you were charged for this service, but were astonished to find out how much it cost for them to connect us.
“It really is shocking, there is no warning or anything telling you about the high connection charges. There will be many more people than us who will be found out by this, as it is just natural to assume that connection is part of the service. My son was especially annoyed, as he would never have been put through if he had known the costs.
“We were delighted to hear from Direct Save, as we would still be in the dark if they had not flagged this up. We now know not to do it again, and others need to be warned as well. This really is a fantastic service that Direct Save provides, they really do look out for their customers’ needs. I am not sure if other companies do this, but if they don’t they certainly should.
Mrs Ellis adds: “It was such a shock when I heard about what had happened, it may not seem like a lot of money to some people, but you only have to make the mistake a couple of times and your phone bill will double or triple in size.”
Complaints such as this have become widespread since Ofcom opened up the directory enquiries market in 2003. It was hoped that increased competition would drive down the prices of calls, but in reality the opposite has happened and costs have jumped dramatically.
Direct Save Telecom’s CEO, Stavros Tsolakis, feels that these services have to be regulated better to put an end to customer confusion.
“The big problem is people do not know how much these services cost, and then are astonished when they are hit with a huge telecom bill. This is what we at Direct Save are trying to prevent. It is simply not fair that there are no prior warnings about the high rate connection charges. Callers are agreeing to be connected blissfully unaware how much it is going to cost them. We have to put an end to the confusion.
Tsolakis adds: “Direct Save monitors all their customers’ phone trends so we can see if anything irregular is occurring. This is exactly what happened with Mrs Ellis, she normally has a very stable call pattern and then suddenly this £11 call came out of nowhere. So a member of our team called her to bring this to her attention. She had no idea about the high connection charges, and neither did her son.
“She is just one example of the customers we have helped. Customer service is very important to us, and this is why we take the time to closely monitor them all. Yes, it is time consuming, but it is also a big plus for them that they know we are helping to protect them against needlessly high call charges.