Named and shamed: The worst call centres that keep you waiting and cost a fortune

The worst call centres are keeping customers waiting almost a quarter of an hour before they even get to speak to a real person.

A league of shame attacks BT, Sky, Lloyds and Scottish & Southern Energy for failing consumers.

They are being left ‘infuriated’ at having to wait an age while being bombarded with classical music and recorded messages promising: ‘Your call is very important to us.’

Maddening: A Which? report has detailed the most expensive and time-consuming call centres in Britain

Maddening: A Which? report has detailed the most expensive and time-consuming call centres in Britain

The complex web of phone numbers and tariffs used makes it hugely difficult to know how much the call will cost, the researchers said.

A ten-minute call to an 0844 number could be 50p from a landline but as much as £3.50 on a mobile phone with the most expensive tariff – a mark-up of 600 per cent.

Customers often then have to spend a further ten minutes trying to get their query dealt with, pushing the bill even higher.

The long delays are proving a goldmine for landline and mobile phone companies.

Some businesses using numbers beginning 08 can also cash in because they are able to negotiate a slice of the call charge. 

the wait

But angry consumers have set up a website – – which offers alternative numbers for most large utility firms, where the calls are charged at the national standard rate.

Researchers at consumer group Which? put in more than 500 test calls to a selection of the biggest broadband suppliers, banks and energy companies.

BT’s broadband customer services were the worst with a 13 minute 49 seconds wait to speak to a person.

Although the call was free from a landline, it would come in at £2.08 on a typical mobile phone tariff.


The longest wait for a member of staff to pick up at Sky’s call centre was nine minutes and nine seconds.

While this was faster than BT, the call would cost more – at £2.29 from a mobile – because of the phone number used.

Among the banks, Lloyds, which is 41 per cent owned by the taxpayer, came out worst with a wait of ten minutes 29 seconds.

The slowest of the ‘big six’ energy suppliers was Scottish & Southern Energy, where the longest wait was more than 11 minutes.

A Which? spokesman said: ‘If you’re not happy with the way your call has been handled, keep a note of the people you’ve spoken to and the time and date of your call.

‘If you want to escalate things, speak to a supervisor.’

She added: ‘Knowing how much you will be charged for making one of these calls is not simple.

‘Where possible, providers should use low-cost phone numbers for their help lines.’

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