MORE and more companies require you to call a number with 08 to access their support staff.

This has nothing to do with the provision of a better service nor because it is less expensive for them to employ cheaper staff abroad, it is greed.

They make a substantial amount of profit by charging us a premium rate for our calls. The large multi-nationals and IT companies must be making millions of pounds in this way.

Perhaps you can now understand why you are on the line much longer than you consider necessary. If you are able to return the goods to a shop and speak to an individual face to face it takes less than a minute to explain your problem.

Contrast this with the amount of time expended on doing the same thing with someone in a call centre.

The whole thing is rigged. You are usually connected within seconds – which is no surprise because from that moment on they are making money out of the call. You face a battery of questions and are told to select an appropriate option. In some cases there isn't one which suits your purpose so you wait to be connected to an operator by default. In more and more instances this is no longer an option and after their list is exhausted you’re returned to the start of the menu.

By this time you are usually so frustrated you swear at the telephone and slam it down, only to start the process again when you have calmed down.

If you do find a suitable option you are then given a number of further choices after a computer generated voice has falsely told you this is "in the interests of service".

If you had spoken to an operator in the first instance none of this would be necessary. However, please don’t think this stage will guide you to an expert as there are very few in these call centres. This part of the process is for the company to gain more knowledge about you; their product and increase their revenue from the call.

When you finally speak to an operator you must verify who you are, and provide a code name or number, which you have usually forgotten, and then answer a list of questions about yourself and the product before you can explain the reason for your call.

This eats up more time and your money. In some instances your queries are satisfactorily resolved but I find this increasingly rare and end up feeling less satisfied and more frustrated than when I began.

Here are my experiences within the last seven days. I waited 27 minutes for an operator to connect a new Sky "service" even though an electronic voice told me my call would be answered in less than eight.

I complained and was promised my account would be credited with the cost of my call.

After going through all a particular energy company’s computer-generated options I spoke to an operator who informed me I would have to complete and submit a VAT form before she could disclose the price of their gas and electricity – time taken 11 minutes.

I lost the dialling tone on my telephone so rang BT whose staff established the line was working correctly and the problem lay with the company One Tel, my broadband provider. It took four minutes to be connected to their technical staff, whose advice costs £1 per minute. I was told to telephone BT.

I explained I had done this already. He said they had no problems so my equipment must be at fault. He took me through a number of tests following which he concluded a particular part needed replacing. I explained this was still under their guarantee and he should do that. He argued that I may have abused it so I would have to take this up with their customer service. He said he could help me no further. Total cost to me £17.

I engaged a computer expert who found no fault with my system. He said IT companies often blame BT and then the equipment in order to avoid incurring costs themselves. People misguidedly call out BT at a cost of £90 for no reason. He speculated that as I had advised One-Tel of the problem they would more than likely resolve it and my system would be back in action within a few hours. He was right. I have written to One-Tel complaining and seeking a refund of my telephone costs but I won’t hold my breath.

I find the whole system very sharp practice and a public disgrace.

If you have had a similar experience please bring it to the notice of your supplier and local MP.