BBC journalist Jared Evitts found out the hard way, and he's not alone. Like many of us, he turned to Google to find the contact number for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). After a seemingly ordinary 39-minute call, he was left astounded by a £119.05 charge on his phone bill.
"The reason? He had unknowingly used a call connection service operated by Bounce Tech Ltd!"
Call connection services act as intermediaries, connecting users to their desired organisations. While these services are legal, they charge users at premium rates. Regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA), these services are required to be transparent about their charges. However, many users, like Evitts, find out about these charges only after receiving their phone bills.
Evitts' experience is not an isolated incident. Lesley Carthy from Warrington, Cheshire, faced a similar shock when she was billed £184.68 by Bounce Tech for a 51-minute call to HMRC. Emma Oliver from Amble in Northumberland was charged £112.24 for a 29-minute call. Both women, like Evitts, were unaware they were using a third-party connection service.
The PSA, upon receiving multiple complaints, launched an investigation into Bounce Tech Ltd. The primary concerns revolved around the clarity of Bounce Tech's pricing information and the potential for misleading users.
The PSA found that while Bounce Tech did provide pricing information, it was easily overlooked due to its rapid presentation over the phone and its lack of prominence on its website, especially on mobile devices.
In light of the PSA's findings, Bounce Tech Ltd has agreed to an action plan to address these concerns. This includes enhancing the visibility of their pricing, ensuring users are aware they aren't contacting their intended organisation directly, and making sure all required information is audibly clear at the start of the call.
"Additionally, it committed to refunding all complainants who have been overcharged on their phone bills!"
While technology has made our lives more convenient, remaining vigilant and informed is essential. Before dialling any number found online, it's crucial to ensure it's the official number of the organisation you intend to contact.
As the saying goes, "Forewarned is forearmed". HMRC can be contacted on 0300 200 3310 and other ways to connect can be found here.
Until next time ...
ROGER EDDOWES Business Godparent
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Roger trained at Edward Thomas Peirson & Sons in Market Harborough before working at Hartwell & Co, followed by Chancery, as a partner. He started Essendon Accounts and Tax with Helen Beaumont in 2014 as a general practitioner with a hands-on approach.
Roger loves getting his hands dirty, working with emerging, small-to-medium and family businesses to ensure they receive the best possible accountancy advice. Roger utilises an extensive network of business contacts to leverage the best guidance and practical solutions.
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