Need to phone Amazon? Go direct not via a premium redirect
There’s an article in the Guardian about shopper chasing up an incorrect order. It seems that she searched online for a number to phone Amazon on and found instead a premium rate redirection service. She only became aware of here error when her phone was disconnected because she’d exceeded her call charge limit.
The premium rate number she’d called cost £3.60 a minute with an additional connection fee. It’s operated by A2B Telecom and its director Lawrence Bingham is unrepentant: “The service is clear on what is being provided and the cost to call.”
Such redirection services using are strictly regulated but perfectly legal. They often use premium rate numbers starting 084, 087 or 09. The website must, however, be straightforward about the costs of calling and also note the official and likely free customer service number on the page.
Yes, of course, it pays to be careful and clearly the person in question should have been more vigilant and thorough when looking for the Amazon number. And, yes, this is a fairly well worn scam. But equally, we’re all busy, imperfect people and we don’t always take the care we should when surfing online and gathering information.
But it also seems rather shocking that such a practice should be permitted at all when it is so obviously nefarious and seeks to dupe people into paying over the odds for something that’s actually available for free. The regulation is well meaning but inadequate. Not least because when you find the number on a Google search, find a page boosted by AdWords to the top, you may well not even click through to the page to check the veracity of the number or spy those all important warnings.
For information, in the UK, if you need to phone Amazon it’s freephone: 0800 279 7234. And if you go to the Amazon website you can contact them online or request a telephone call back all free of charge.
I believe it falls beneath sharp practice to the definition level of scam.
I’m sure telecoms providers are on the receiving end too when customers get a shocking bill and target their wrath at the provider. I made an angry call to Virgin when I found my elderly mother’s bill had excessive charges from calls to directory enquiries. My guess is most of the charge goes to the third party.