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Cabinet to back ban for phone 'on hold' fees

The Local · 2 Mar 2011, 08:13

Published: 02 Mar 2011 08:13 GMT+01:00

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It has long been a source of irritation for German consumers: calling a hotline or help desk and being placed on hold, yet still having to pay steep per-minute fees while listening to Muzak.

This practice will soon be ended if a draft law put forward by the Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet on Wednesday is then passed by parliament.

"We have stipulated that simply being on hold either on a landline or from a mobile phone cannot results in charges," Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner of the Christian Social Union told the daily Passauer Neue Presse.

"People receive no services while being on hold, so there should be no resulting costs," she said.

In Germany, numbers beginning with 0800 are toll free, but callers to 0180 service numbers and 0900 premium numbers must now pay even when on hold. Those charges can add up, especially since fees of €2 or more per minute are not rare.

The law is expected to go into effect in about a year. In the meantime, discussions are underway about improving the situation for customers right away. One possibility under consideration is making the first two minutes on hold free of charge.

Story continues below…


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:18 March 2, 2011 by catjones
'People receive no services while being on hold, so there should be no resulting costs,'............the implication is that you do get service when not on hold.

They should set up a system where you pay after service is satisfactorily provided.
09:21 March 2, 2011 by basske
I can not support this enough -- nothing says frustration more than waiting on hold for 15 minutes, angrily hanging up, and still being charged €10. All for a call related to a service interruption that was the fault of the company in the first place...
09:38 March 2, 2011 by Joshontour
"People receive no services while being on hold, so there should be no resulting costs,"

If costs are to be tied to "service" then there shouldn't be any fees here in Germany.
09:40 March 2, 2011 by MaKo
Brilliant! Next up: GEZ!
09:45 March 2, 2011 by canadianinberlin
MaKo, let's start a movement!
12:48 March 2, 2011 by DoubleDTown
and what's with all these 0805 numbers anyway? I mean, it's one thing that a company doesn't want to pay for a toll-free call -- but why do I have to pay EUR 0.14 a minute? I'm willing to pay for a call myself, but it's infuriating to be nickel & dimed like this. When will big companies finally get it over on their competition by eliminating such charges....
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