18th September 2013

Brits waste up to £385 a year on hold to call centres

Addison Lee move to local call centre number as research reveals Brits are getting caught out by cost of 0844 calls

  • New poll of 2,000 people confirms ‘cost of call’ is the UK’s biggest call centre gripe
  • Average Brit spends up to 27 minutes waiting each time they phone a call centre – adding up to 22 days over their lifetime
  • Utility companies are the worst offenders, followed by phone companies then banks, for making customers wait
  • Just 7% of people know the cost of a 0844 call from a mobile telephone

The average Brit wastes up to £385 a year – or £30,780 over their lifetime* – paying for time spent waiting when phoning call centres, according to a new national survey.

A survey of 2,000 people across the UK, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the UK’s largest minicab company Addison Lee, also reveals that Brits spend on average up to 6 ½ hours a year** waiting on the line when phoning call centres. This significant length of time could have been otherwise been spent flying to New York, running a marathon or watching the original Star Wars trilogy.

The survey also shows that the majority of people have no idea how much it costs to phone call centres (73%). And only 7% of survey respondents are aware of the exact cost to a 0844 number from a mobile telephone.

New research from consumer group Which?, also released today, further highlights customer issues with having to pay a premium to phone call centres, revealing that 80% of people believe companies who make them use high-rate phone numbers don’t value them as a customer***.

The findings come as the UK Government announced plans to ban premium rate customer service lines across industries such as retail and telecoms. While transport sectors are exempt from the draft proposal, Addison Lee has taken the initiative and has adopted a 0207 call centre number in a move to benefit its customers. Addison Lee will send a message to 800,000 customers to announce the market-leading move.

The number change is supported by the Costly Calls campaign, launched today by Which?, that argues that customers should not have to pay a premium to phone a call centre, and all companies – regardless of industry – should provide a local rate number for all customer services telephone lines.

Speaking about Addison Lee’s plans to move back their call centre operations to a 0207 number in order to better serve its customers, Liam Griffin, Addison Lee CEO, said:

0844 numbers can be more expensive to call from mobiles and it’s clear from this survey that most people have no idea of the costs. Our customers told us they would prefer to ring a local number, so we’ve listened to them and changed back to our original 0207 number.

Mr Griffin continued:

Even though we have a hugely successful range of apps, we still take thousands of bookings from mobiles every day. Adopting a London number for a London company is an important part of our on-going program of investment in improving our call centre, to reduce costs and speed up phone bookings.

Editors notes

  • Source: Study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Addison Lee in August 2013, in which 2,000 Britons were polled.
  • ***statistic provided by Populus, on behalf of Which?, who interviewed a random sample of 2070 GB adults aged 18+ online between 30th August and 1st September 2013

The UK’s Greatest Call Centre Gripes

  • ‘Cost of call’ is the UK’s biggest call centre gripe (27%)
  • The longest average waiting time when phoning a call centre is 27 minutes
  • Utility companies are the worst offenders (32%), followed by phone companies (17%) then banks (14%), for making their customers wait
  • Transport companies including taxi or private hire are among the least likely to make you wait (1.45%)
  • There is an overwhelming preference for a local telephone number rather than 0844 call centre number (71%)
  • A mere 7% of survey respondents know how much it costs to call a 0844 call centre number from a mobile telephone

About Addison Lee

Addison Lee is Europe’s largest minicab company and also offers a full range of Premier VIP chauffeur services, international delivery services, couriers and executive coaches. Founded in Battersea in 1975, Addison Lee has a fleet of 3,500 premium minicabs. Using its unique auto allocator software, Addison Lee offers an average pick up time of four minutes in Central London with a fulfilment rate which stands at 99%. The company were also the first in the UK to provide customers with driver SMS updates. In the past four years, Addison Lee has won 11 business awards and numerous green awards in recognition for reducing its CO2 emissions through efficient fleet management.

* Based on the OnePoll survey, the average Briton spends up to 27 minutes waiting when phoning a call centre, and makes 14.25 calls per year, at an average cost of £1/minute using various telephone or network providers (including Orange, Vodafone, Tesco, 3, O2 and BT). Therefore, up to £30,780 is spent over an average lifetime of 80 years.
** Based on the OnePoll survey, the average Briton spends up to 27 minutes waiting when phoning a call centre, and makes 14.25 calls per year, resulting in a total of 384.75 minutes (or 6.42 hours) waiting a year.

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