What are directory enquiry numbers?

118 numbers are premium rate numbers which are available for purchase via a number of providers and are chargeable on a call or per minute basis. Premium rate numbers are a popular source of dedicated revenue stream or alternatively are sometimes used as an additional revenue stream. Directory enquiry numbers are prefixed by 118 and are designed to provide assistance in regard to obtaining listed phone numbers for personal and commercial residences. When a calling a directory enquiry you will need some basic information, name, address and location of the contact to assist in identifying the correct number. The more information you can provide the more likely the operative will be able to match and advise a correct phone number for you.

Who provides directory enquiry services?

There are over four hundred companies offering directory services with the prefix of 118. Perhaps the most well-known company is ‘118 118’ who have been advertising on television for some time. Other companies providing directory enquiry services are ‘BT 118 500’ and ‘Yell 118 247’

How much do directory enquiry calls cost?

118 Directory enquiry services are regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA). Costs from both landlines and mobiles can vary depending on the vendor. Looking at the major providers, current tariffs are as follows. ‘118 118’ charge £4.49 each call with an additional £4.49 per minute extra. Minimum charge is £8.98 but could increase subject to a variable access charge from your service provider.
Yell, and BT, charge £2.75 every call and £2.75 each minute. A minimum sixty-second duration charge is applicable and again an additional access charge may be levied by the service provider.

Have the cost of directory service calls gone up?

Costs have increased since 2003 by over two thousand per cent. A call to a directory over fifteen years ago may have cost in the region of fifty pence. Calls today may cost around six pounds.

How are consumers protected?

In 2015, following an enquriy, Ofcom simplified the cost tariffs for calling 118 directory services. This helped clarify tariffs and billing for consumers. Service providers were tasked with clearly stating tariffs and charges wherever their services were published and advertised. Further Directory service providers are bound to the code of practice and regulated by the PSA, which oversees all premium-rate service numbers. Following a more recent series of price increases, Ofcom announced in May 2017 that they have launched an enquiry into price tariffs and service practice.

What alternatives exist to using a directory enquiry service?

There are online directory services that can be interrogated via a search function that is free of charge such as 192.com. This is useful if you have safe access to an internet browser.

It is possible to use cheaper 118 service numbers that are hosted by the major companies like ‘118 118’ and BT. BT have less publicised 118 numbers that are just not as well publicised. The tariffs on these numbers are cheaper than their flagship 118 500 services. The ‘118 118’service can be contacted for free by calling their Freephone number 0800 118 3733. Once connected press the hash and you will be able to use the same service for no cost. The only difference is that the Freephone number is introduced by a recorded advertisement message.

Be aware of charges before you call.

Given that the market for directory enquiries is very competitive and in recent years the costs of calls have increased, it is good practice to check tariff rates and compare with competitors for the best rates. In this way, you can be sure that there are no unforeseen charges looming on your next telephone bill.