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Business

Germany wants to end charges for hotline wait times

Germany's Economics Ministry has put forth a draft law to save callers double-figure charges to wait on hold for service hotlines. The proposal is part of a package of reforms to help customers and encourage competition.

Woman holding a telephone handset in an office

Germans currently pay double-figure sums to wait on hold

Although service hotlines callers may still subject to aggravating wait times, Germany's Economics Ministry announced Wednesday a draft law to prohibit telephone hotlines from charging callers for time spend on hold.

The bill is one step away from coming before Germany's federal cabinet for approval.

"Expensive service and pay hotlines in the future may only put callers on hold if they cover the costs of the wait time,” said Economics Minister Rainer Bruederle.

The proposal is the latest addition to the so-called EU telecom package of reforms, which the ministry first put forth in March.

The bill already contained several proposed reforms to telecommunications designed to protect customers and encourage competition - such as the requirement of telecommunications companies to offer one-year contracts and a two-year cap for service contracts. The transfer of telephone numbers from one provider to another should also be made easier.

Should the bill pass, telephone companies will also no longer be allowed to cut off service to customers who dispute individual charges on their phone bills.

Author: David Levitz (AP/AFP/dpa)

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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