People who call directory enquiry services will be protected from high prices under a new price cap on 118 phone numbers, announced by Ofcom today.
Ofcom have been concerned about directory enquiry prices rising steeply. Some providers charge almost £20 for an average 90-second call. The price charged by the most popular service – 118 118 – for a 90-second call is now £11.23.
Although there are cheaper services available, Ofcom’s research shows that consumers tend to call the numbers they most easily remember.
And while the number of calls being made to 118 services has been falling by around 40% every year, more than a million people in the UK – many of them elderly – still use these services.
The cost of calling many of these services is now well above what people expect to pay. Ofcom’s research estimates that around 450,000 consumers a year are paying £2.4m in total more than they expect for these calls, with some struggling to pay their bills.
So Ofcom is stepping in, by capping the maximum amount a 118 service can charge at £3.65 per 90 seconds. This will bring prices back to 2012 levels, and closer to what people expect to pay.
To allow providers time to adjust their prices and billing systems, the price cap will come into force on 1 April 2019.
A news release is available.