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Robert Halfon MP introduces new 10-Minute Rule Bill on Consumer Telephone Service Standards

Business / Fri 28th Oct 2022 am31 08:48am

THIS week, Harlow’s MP, Robert Halfon, presented a new 10-Minute Rule Bill on Consumer Telephone Service Standards in the Chamber. This Bill aims to end the increasingly long waiting times that consumers face everyday when trying to get through to utility and service providers.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country wait upwards of 45 minutes to get through to a customer service representative in their efforts to seek often urgent advice. Often, however, they are then directed to a complicated online process, and for older and more vulnerable customers, who do not have access to the internet, the provision of a proper telephone service is critical.

Mr Halfon’s Bill is similar to the new Spanish consumer laws which will force big companies and utility firms to answer calls within three minutes or face fines of up to €100,000 (£85,000). Consumers will also have the right to be put through to a human on the phone, rather than having to deal with an automated system.

As such, Mr Halfon’s new Bill plans to:

Ensure that no one would have to wait longer than 10 minutes on the phone.

Every customer would get through to a real human, as opposed to an automated machine or ‘bot’.

Companies would remove the ‘1,2,3 options’, which are all about trying to get customers off the phone, instead of actually talking to them.

Should businesses fail to meet these standards, they will be fined heavily and this money would be paid back to the customer through rebates.

MP for Harlow and Chair of the Education Select Committee, Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP said:

“I am incredibly proud to present my Consumer Telephone Service Standards Bill to Parliament today, and to have worked closely with the Daily Mail and MoneyMail to support their ‘Pick Up or Pay Up’ campaign.

“Every day across the UK, utility and service providers are providing poor customer service, with hours-long waiting times, automated responses or requests to use online chat boxes. During this cost-of-living crisis, families all over Britain are anxiously attempting to contact their utility and service providers and yet these companies are burying contact numbers on obscure web pages, aiming to get people off the phone, rather than on it. This does not even take into account vulnerable or elderly customers who might not have internet access or a smartphone and simply don’t have the tools to use one.

“These providers have created a Kafka-esque torture chamber of customer service and this needs to end.

“My new Bill aims to ensure that no one would have to wait longer than ten minutes to get through on the phone; that every customer would get through to a real human (not an automated robot or machine); that companies would remove the ‘1,2,3’ options; and, should businesses fail to meet these standards, they would be fined and this money paid back to customers through rebates.

“These companies have a duty to their customers who deserve the right to efficient, responsible and immediate customer service. As the Daily Mail says, they need to ‘Pick Up or Pay Up’.”

https://www.roberthalfon.com/news/robert-halfon-mp-introduces-new-10-minute-rule-bill-consumer-telephone-service-standards

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3 Comments for Robert Halfon MP introduces new 10-Minute Rule Bill on Consumer Telephone Service Standards:

Theman
2022-10-28 09:03:14

I wish him good luck with this, it is long overdue.

David Forman
2022-10-28 09:16:52

Nice to see Robert Halfon getting back to dealing with everyday issues that frustrate people. I particularly liked his comment, "These providers have created a Kafka-esque torture chamber of customer service." The one issue I have with that sentence is that the hyphen is not required.

Voteforme
2022-10-28 13:19:53

This is rubbish. More people employed means more costs and the potential for higher prices. And, If I call my energy supplier do I really expect a phone answerer to be able to answer any question. Presumably the answerer will have to use menu options whilst you wait on the line. We all have the choice of cheapness or service, personally I favour cheapness. This is the modern world for goodness sake. He will be insisting next that bills must go in the post or we pay by cheque. Many companies have a call back facility which I do like. And what about govt depts, over the years HMRC have had a shocking reputation for taking a long time to answer phones (what are they like now), look at all the comments on GP's not answering. And, does RH ever respond to comments-no, he never answers (well he does say thank you on facebook to nice people)

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