Since June 2014, new rules have been in force for customer hotlines on which you can ask questions about a contract that has already been concluded, among other things. Businesses may no longer claim costs that exceed normal telephone charges.
The new regulation applies only for customers, not for interested parties. Chargeable order hotlines continue to be permitted. For expensive special numbers, such as 0180 or 0900 numbers, queues may be only used when a fixed price applies to you as a caller or if at least the waiting time for you is free of charge for billing by the minute. At the beginning of the call, you must be informed of the probable length of the hold and whether the call is based on a fixed rate or if the waiting time is free of charge for you.
If businesses do not apply these rules, you can make a complaint about queues to the Federal Network Agency on 0228 - 14 0 or to the Consumer Advice Centers of the respective federal state.
Tips/Customer hotline cost traps
Meanwhile, many telecommunications companies have set up free hotlines for customer calls. These are mostly recognizable as 0800 numbers.
There are also service hotlines with 0180 numbers which cost up to 14 cents a minute from a landline and up to 42 cents a minute from a cellphone.
If you do not wish to forego help by telephone, you should make sure that the telecommunications company can be contacted inexpensively reached when choosing your provider.
Only ring the customer hotline for urgent or individual problems. This also applies for stays abroad and vacations - note the varying roaming charges!
Many telecommunications companies also provide e-mail contact on their websites as an alternative means of communication. Also, frequently asked questions (FAQs) are answered directly on the company website. Check if a question which you wish to ask is in the FAQs.
Please note the respective prices per minute for service numbers of providers, which could be cost traps. These are services such as breakdown services, speaking clock etc., not a customer hotline. The prices of the service numbers can be taken from the respective price lists of companies.