Martin Lewis has launched a campaign against “sorry for unusually high call volumes” recorded messages from banks and utility companies, as the consumer champion accuses firms of lying to customers.

Lewis wants to test if some firms constantly play a “sorry, we’re experiencing unusually high call volumes” message to keep people from staying on the line. For this, his team has set up a way for consumers to report the situation, as he believes it may sometimes be a breach of consumer duty.

“It is my suspicion, and I can only say it is a suspicion at the moment that this has simply become a default message. In which case it is a lie,” Lewis told BBC’s Today programme.

He added that if banks and broadband, mobile, credit card, energy, water, and sewerage firms are always playing this message to consumers, there will be no high volume of calls. “Therefore, firms are lying to consumers.”

“For financial firms, it is probably a breach of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) consumer duty rules,” Lewis said.

The campaign to gather evidence amassed over 3,500 hundred reports from disgruntled customers facing the pre-recorded message. Lewis is only looking at banks and utility firms for now, but he did mention that he has heard reports of similar issues with HMRC.

“It drives people nuts, and if firms are lying, they need to stop it,” he said.

The consumer champion admitted that “like many, I find the ‘unusually high call volumes’ message extremely frustrating, especially when they play it, and then 10 seconds later you’re connected.

“Before I try and go all ‘consumer-Rambo’ on this campaign, I wanted to check the data and see whether this is a real problem or just my skewed perception (though social media responses I’ve had on it certainly mean if it is a skewed perception it is shared by many).”

Under FCA rules, financial institutions are required to act in good faith towards customers and enable and support them. Consumer understanding and support are among the key pillars of the watchdog rules.

Some have criticised the campaign, prompting Martin Lewis to use X to explain that the move is not against call centre workers but the executives running these firms.

You can report “unusually high call volumes” messages on the MoneySavingExpert website.