The state-sponsored entity Ofcom has stepped in to reign in the increasingly egregious prices of directory inquiry calls. A price cap of £3.65 for every 90-second call is going to be applied to all such services in a consumer-friendly move to protect the latter from the ridiculous increase in cost.
This measure is also being introduced so that all who utilize these services are aware of how much these calls cost them. Prior to this, there was a distinct lack of transparency in the matter with most completely in the dark about how expensive these calls were becoming.
According to research conducted by Ofcom, it was found that popular directory service 118 118 was charging £11.23 for a single 90-second call. However, 118 118 isn’t the only such service available it’s merely the most popular. Of the various directory inquiry services assessed by Ofcom, there was even one which charged nearly £20 for a 90-second call. Comparing some of the numbers highlights that not only is £20 too expensive, but even the price charged by 118 118 is fairly steep.
Numbers as presented by Ofcom:
- Telecom2: £19.98
- TNUK: £11.23
- Maureen: £11.23
- Yell: £6.88
- BT: £3.10
- O2: £1.13
- Post Office: £1.00
As shown above, most of the prices listed are lower than that of 118 118.
Due to the advent of the internet, it’s not shocking that the popularity of directory services has consistently been on the decline. In fact, an assessment of their demographics highlights that their customers are primarily the senior citizens of their community. Or otherwise, people with no access to the internet. Additionally, the vast majority of those using these services are in the dark about how much it actually costs them.
According to Ofcom, directory inquiry services have experienced dramatic lows. One such highlighted example is from 2014; where during the third quarter 7.1 million people were utilizing these services. These numbers were then compared to 2017; where during its second-quarter only 1.95 million people were using them. This highlights that while a large number of people are still making use of these services, there is a consistent pattern of decline playing out side-by-side.
Ofcom’s director of consumer policy, Jane Rumble shared her thoughts on the subject. She acknowledged the meteoric rise of the prices and that callers aren’t aware of how much they’re being charged. She also expressed sympathy and concern for these people citing that evidence highlights how much harm is being inflicted on people as a result, with some struggling to get their bills paid. Rumble also said that the price cap will assist in bringing down the cost to 2012 levels.
MP Margot James, the Digital Minister has also been forthright with her thoughts on the matter. She strongly supports the price cap and is relieved that consumers will now be protected from the exorbitant rates they were expected to pay before. She did not have kind words for the previous pricing schemes as she outright referred to them as a ‘rip off’.