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118 directory enquiry call charges capped from today

From today, people who call directory enquiry services will be charged a maximum of £3.65 per 90 seconds, after a price cap was introduced by Ofcom.

The telecoms regulator says the cap will bring prices for calls to 118 services back to 2012 levels. But the capped amount is higher than the £3.10 per 90 seconds figure that the watchdog first proposed back in June 2018, following a review of the industry.

Ofcom has said that some directory enquiries providers charged almost £20 for an average 90-second call. It added that a 90-second call to the most popular service, 118 118, previously cost £11.23.

The most expensive service was 118 004, provided by Telecom2. As of last November, customers were charged £19.98 for a 90-second call.

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

What are the best ways for me to cut my directory enquiry costs?

While the number of 118 directory enquiries calls being made has been falling by around 40% each year due to information being easily accessible online, over one million people in the UK – many of them elderly – still use 118 numbers.

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.

Ofcom has examples of the price differences between 118 numbers, as of November 2018, but always double-check the cost of the service before you call.

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."

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