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New Cost Cap on UK Calls to 118 Directory Enquiries Goes Live

Monday, April 1st, 2019 (7:52 am) - Score 880
telephone warning uk

Surprisingly around a million people in the UK still use premium 118 Directory Enquiries numbers (e.g. elderly users). Last year Ofcom took action to stamp out excessive charges for such numbers, which had seen some operators charging £20 for a 90 second call. But from today such costs will be capped.

The internet and modern AI powered smart assistants (e.g. Amazon’s Echo) have largely killed off the need for old fashioned 118 calls but many people still use them, although the total number of calls continues to fall by around 40% every year. Nevertheless Ofcom’s research estimated that each year around 450,000 people were paying a combined total of £2.4m more than they expected for these calls, with some struggling to pay their bills.

118 uk call prices

In response the telecoms regulator decided to step in and tackle the most excessive charges by capping the maximum cost a 118 service can charge at £3.65 per 90 seconds. “This will bring prices back to the levels they were at in 2012, and closer to what people have told us they expect to pay for using these services,” said Ofcom. The cap will be enforced from today.

Jane Rumble, Ofcom’s Director of Consumer Policy, said:

“Directory enquiry prices had been rising in recent years, and callers were paying much more than they expected. Our evidence shows this was hurting people, with some struggling to pay their bills.

We’ve taken action to protect callers by capping 118 prices. This will significantly cut the cost of many calls, and bring them back to 2012 levels.”

End.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar gerarda

    The capped cost is still several times higher in real terms than BT charged before the service was opened up to “competition”. Certainly one of Ofcom’s success stories

    • Avatar Joe

      And BT back in the day the charge covered 3 numbers not one.

    • Avatar gpmgroup

      Yep, provides a great example for anyone interested in antitrust…..

      Also one of the problems with price caps is, currently lower prices tend to rise to them.

      A better approach would have been to put a recoded message on the start of the call which explains the cost and gives people an option to hang up if they don’t want to pay that cost. That way companies charging £18 can continue to do so, customers that don’t mind can continue to pay and those who do can find an alternative.

  2. Avatar BT

    118 calls should be banned and scrapped. I never use it. I use BT directory book or can view it online for no extra cost!.

  3. Avatar Optimist

    Does the VM allowance of 10 free DQ calls apply to each of its customers, or just for the first 10 DQ calls in one day (blink and you’ll missit)?

  4. Avatar TopCat

    Better than it was. Still rip-off Britain though.

  5. Avatar Michael V

    My 1st thought was kill off 118s. But many people still use the services, it’s needed by older people & those without internet connection. My mother used to use 118 services until about a year when I taught her how to use Google Search on her phone!

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