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Consumers Underestimate Directory Enquiry Call Costs

Thu 19 May, 2011 // Firstnumber Team
Directory Enquiry Costs

In a study by free directory enquiries provider 192.com, it was revealed that a high percentage of customers using a payable directory enquiries service such as 118 118 or 118 500 seriously underestimate the cost of making such calls.

Whilst the initial costs appear to be good value for money, with a typical 45 second call to a 118 number costing approximately £1.75, it was discovered that costs are likely to baloon if the caller decides to be connected by the service provider.

The research found that some 80% of consumers were not aware of the spiralling costs involved, with 66% believing that the cost of making a directory enquiry call was under £1. Such a lack of awareness has previously prompted concern from the consumer watchdog Ofcom, who, in 2003, decided to open up the directory enquiries market to new providers with the aim of increasing competition, and thus reducing costs.

Following this attempt at market diversification, two firms came to dominate the industry; The Number (118 118) and BT (118 500). The report by 192.com reminded us that calls from these firms started off at around 54p from a landline, and have since rocketed to approximately three times as much.

Prices, of course, vary whether a landline or mobile phone is being used, as well as on the directory call provider. While a landline call to 118 118 followed by a five minute call after connection would cost you £3.71, the same landline call to 118 500 is a considerably higher £8.83. The figures rise further when a mobile call is made, with mobile provider T-Mobile charging £12.24 for the same enquiry, connection, and five minute call.

The study also highlighted sections of society likely to suffer most acutely from such astronomical costs, stating that 26% of lower socio-economic groups rely on mobile phones when making high-cost, non-geographic calls in comparison with 9% of ABC1 households (upper middle, middle, and lower middle class groups).

International call costs were also shown to be even more expensive when using a 118 number. According to the report, an international call from a BT landline to 118 500 will cost £2.99 per minute, with an additional 99p connection fee.

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