Germans spend €150 million on hold

Germans spent more than 600 million minutes waiting on premium phone calls – and paid €150 million doing so, new figures showed on Saturday. Politicians have failed to hang up on expensive numbers despite discussing a ban.

Germans spend €150 million on hold
Photo: DPA

“These rip-off phone numbers are showing no sign of slowing down,” said Bärbel Höhn, deputy leader of the Green Party, which published the figures.

She told the regional paper Saarbrücker Zeitung the government was not doing enough to stop people being over-charged.

Hotlines and call centres, usually on 0180 codes were the worst offenders, keeping customers waiting for more than 616 million minutes last year. This cost €86 million, the Green Party report showed.

Sex and quiz phone lines, often hosted on 0900 numbers, kept people waiting for 48 million minutes, at a cost of €58 million. These numbers have an average cost of €1.20 a minute.

A telecommunications bill is being discussed in parliament, and includes a clause banning some expensive phone charges.

Under the proposal, only free numbers and those with area codes would be allowed to keep people waiting for a call. If companies want to charge people who are ringing they must set a flat price.

Yet this would not be enough, said Höhn. “There big loopholes which mean that recorded messages and choosing from a menu will still cost money,” she said.

The telecommunications bill includes other measures which have held it up in parliament, so any premium phone line ban itself being kept on hold.

DPA/The Local/jcw

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Swedish retailer H&M sees profits slump after Russia exit

Swedish fashion retailer H&M reported a sizeable drop in third-quarter profit on Thursday following its decision to leave the Russian market.

Swedish retailer H&M sees profits slump after Russia exit

The world’s number two clothing group is among a slew of Western companies that have exited Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

H&M paused all sales in the country in March and announced in July that it would wind down operations, although it would reopen stores for “a limited period of time” to offload its remaining inventory.

The company said Thursday its net profit fell to 531 million kronor ($47 million) in the third quarter, down 89 percent from the same period last year. “The third quarter has largely been impacted by our decision to pause sales and then wind down the business in Russia,” chief executive Helena Helmersson said in a statement.

The group said in its earnings statement that it would launch cost-cutting measures that would result in savings totalling two billion kronor.