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The Directory Game



phone bookThis month 118 118, the mustachioed telephone number directory service, increased its prices to nose-bleed level. This is the headline from London’s Evening Standard

“Price hikes have left users of the well-known 118 118 directory inquiries service paying nearly £9 for a call lasting less than a minute.”

They tell us that calls to 118 118 now cost a minimum of £8.98 and if the caller says yes to the offer to be connected to the number he’s just enquired about, he’ll get a bill of £94.29 for a 20-minute call.
This was briefly discussed at the industry group for VoIP – ITSPA – the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association yesterday, in one of our many diversions from heavier matters like what to call the free bottles of beer we’ll be giving away at the next conference. (My offer was Internet Telephony Special Pale Ale – geddit?)

The consensus was that it was indeed Michael-taking. It was thought that a major revenue stream would be from business users on mobiles needing to get numbers quickly while out of the office. This would make the call even more expensive as it would also incur the mobile operators access change. But they’re not picking up the bill.

The heavy use of telly adverts suggests that they are targeting ordinary consumers and there is a concern that the elderly that don’t all have access to the internet may be particular vulnerable to this price hike. Isn’t this just the sort of thing that Ofcom is supposed to protect us from?

Voipfone only allows one 118 number 118 707 which we provide at cost. This is a one-off £1.45 plus our 7p access fee. Still expensive but not a total rip-off and not our fault

And of course, the best way is free – www.192.com.

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