Cap proposed to prevent 118 bill shock

13 June 2018

A price cap on 118 calls has been proposed by Ofcom to prevent users of these directory enquiry numbers from being hit by bill shock.

Under the regulator’s plans, such calls would be limited to £3.10 per 90 seconds, which it says is roughly the average length of a direct enquiry call.

The move follows prices for calls to 118 numbers rising “significantly in recent years”, with calls to some providers costing as much as £15.98 per call, according to Ofcom.

But at the same time, there has been a decrease in the advertising of direct enquiry services and their prices, which Ofcom says has resulted in “poor price transparency and consumers paying much more than they expect”.

Only 3% of consumers surveyed by Ofcom said they chose a direct enquiry service because it was the cheapest.

Moneywise warned readers only last month to beware the hidden cost of 118 calls and explained how to beat the hefty prices using free or cheap no-frills services that aren’t as heavily advertised.

Ofcom initially opened a review into 118 calls in May 2017. It had mooted the prospect of a price cap back in 2013 but decided against it.    

The new proposals will be consulted on until 22 August with Ofcom aiming to publish its conclusions before the end of 2018. The cap will then take force within four months.

An Ofcom spokesperson comments: "We're concerned about rising prices for directory enquiries, and callers paying much more than they expect. So we're taking action to protect consumers by proposing a cap on the cost of 118 numbers."

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