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Toll or Toll Free?

Toll or Toll Free?

In Holland, it’s common to have to pay $1 per minute for a call to a company.

Was that a waitress who just zoomed by? Nah ...

Was that a waitress who just zoomed by? Nah …

My first thought is, “Do I really need to make this call? Maybe I can find the information on the website?” So maybe the company “succeeded” in preventing a client interaction (that usually earns them nothing and is only a cost) by putting up a barrier to communication.

However, we were already paying customers (it was for a ferry boat) and we wanted to change our boat time if possible. So we called and were able to change the boat time. It was also possible, of course, that we couldn’t change our boat time and then we would have spent the extra few Euros on hearing that we couldn’t make the change.

The killer is that you can also be connected with the company, then sit in their internal queue while waiting for a customer service person, all the while paying the per minute charge.

I’m not sure there was any way around calling. Maybe you can change your ticket online, we didn’t try.

In the States, we also have toll calls, but aren’t they usually sex chat lines and the like?

I suppose it’s a typical example of the level of service commonly found in Europe versus the States. In the States, the customer is king and is always right, so offering a free information call is just part of the service, even if it might not result in a sale. But it is a real cost, it costs money to pay someone to answer the phone and talk with someone.

I am going to doubt that this is their intention, but I suppose that the Euro per minute could even be a revenue generating vehicle. But I think it’s more just the service mentality. Just like in the restaurants (where tipping is 5 or maybe 10 percent) and, I’ll just put this bluntly, sometimes it’s as if you feel lucky or even privileged to be served by the waitstaff at this fine establishment. I’m exaggerating and things have changed (towards more service orientation), but maybe it’s just a cultural difference.

Still, 5 Euros to call to talk with someone to maybe change a ticket or not is an interesting microeconomic phenomenon and I wonder what the future will bring.

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