Premium rate numbers

A premium rate number is used by companies, government agencies or other institutions to establish telephone contact with customers or anybody looking for information. Services numbers are used to offer services to example obtain information about products or services, place orders, report malfunctions or to report a complaint. The service is typically staffed with hotline employees. Smart telephone systems answer calls to the premium rate number, where applicable further define the reason for the call and then route the call to an assigned worker available to take the call. Depending on the type of service the premium rate number can be available 24 hours a day or only during certain hours.

The problem with the various cost models

Companies and institutions use different cost models when offering a premium rate number. Many numbers, thus the service, are free of charge to the caller. In Germany, toll-free premium rate numbers are typically identified by the area code 0800. Since many flat rate services include free domestic calls, toll-free premium rate numbers can also be implemented through regular local numbers for a majority of the callers.
Shared Cost services with split charges are common. These services allow the cost of the telecommunication service to be split between the provider and the caller. Depending on the type, the charges can be billed by call duration or as a flat per-call charge.
There are also premium rate numbers where the caller pays the telephone company for the service offered. They then pass part of the fee on to the company offering the service. One example for paid information services is the 0900 area code.


The problem with availability and quality of the service

Customers can possibly incur additional charges if companies do not have their own affiliates and do not have local customer service to contact. After all, if there is a fee for the telephone service, even simple and typically free inquiries will involve a charge. And long hold times can also result in frustration. Since companies often outsource hotline services, the quality of the service provided is sometimes questionable.