MSE News

118 directory enquiry call charges to be capped

People who call directory enquiry services will soon pay a maximum of £3.65 per 90 seconds after a price cap was announced by Ofcom.

The regulator says the cap – which will come in on 1 April next year – will bring prices back to 2012 levels. But it is higher than the £3.10 per 90 seconds charge it proposed back in June, following a review of the industry.

While the number of calls being made to 118 services has been falling by around 40% every year due to easily accessible information being available online, more than a million people in the UK – many of them elderly – still use these services.

Ofcom said some providers currently charge almost £20 for an average 90-second call.

MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis has welcomed the price cap this morning, but said it should have been set much lower:

See our best Sim-only deals guide for more ways to save money on your phone bills.

Can I cut costs before the price cap comes in?

118 numbers provide directory services – so you ring them and they can give you a telephone number for a service you're looking for.

The simplest way to cut costs is to look up telephone numbers for free on the internet. But if you must call a 118 service because the number you're looking for isn't on the web, there are ways to keep the cost to a minimum.

Prices are often poorly advertised, so it's key to know that not all 118 services cost the same. The Number provides a free directory enquiries service on 0800 118 3733, though you'll have to listen to a short advert.

Calls to 118 118 – which is the most popular service – cost £4.49 per call, plus an additional £4.49/min. A 90-second call through 118 118 can cost users £11.23.

If you're visually impaired or unable to hold a telephone directory, you can sign up to the 195 service which also offers a free directory enquiries service.

What does Ofcom say?

Ofcom's director of consumer policy Jane Rumble said: "Directory enquiry prices have risen in recent years, and callers are paying much more than they expect. Our evidence shows this is hurting people, with some struggling to pay their bills.

"We're taking action to protect callers by capping 118 prices. This will significantly cut the cost of many calls, and bring them back to 2012 levels."