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‘Lenders bleeding advisers with call charges’

Lenders are using higher-rate call numbers to bleed intermediaries for cash to pay for the cost of regulation, says Mortgage Portfolio Services mortgage planner Simon Chalk.

Chalk says the proliferation of 0870 numbers since M-Day coupled with extensions in call waiting times means lenders are using the charges to get revenue for themselves while still not improving services.

He says intermediaries should not be subsidising lenders’ services.

Call charges are often not revealed in lenders’ ads and Chalk believes there has been some deterioration in phone call centre services and that it is unfair for lenders to be making profit out of poor service.

In a random sample from the start of his database, Chalk says Abbey, Accord, Alliance & Leicester and Amber Homeloans all use 0870 numbers. While 0845 numbers charge a regional rate charge, 0870 and 0871 numbers can earn an organisation revenue for every call received and are often used for technical support lines.

The FSA says it cannot force lenders to reveal call charges as they are not brea-king ad regulations.

Chalk says: “If lenders want to charge premium rates, they should say so but offer a superb service. The reality is that we are subsidising their inefficiencies.”

Brentchase Financial Services mortgage specialist Mich-ael Fitzgerald says: “These phone call charges are just the same as admin fees and exit fees. Is it paying off the cost of regulation and if so, shouldn’t this be handed over to the FSA?”

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