diamond geezer

 Monday, August 25, 2003

118, got your number

Yesterday the old Directory Enquiries number was finally switched off. RIP 192, hello 118. BT's monopoly is over and there are a whole load of new competitors, all hoping we'll ring them whenever we're stuck for a telephone number... 118 000, 118 099, 118 111, 118 118, 118 119, 118 180, 118 247, 118 404, 118 499, 118 500, 118 511, 118 707, 118 811, 118 866, 118 877, 118 888.

Twice as many digits to remember as before, which is why we've been bombarded by expensive advertising campaigns trying hard to punch each number deep into our subconscious memory. What the adverts aren't so hot at telling us however is how much each service actually costs. There's a bewildering range of connection charges, costs per minute and minimum charges, and I doubt that most people using the new services will have any idea just how much they're being stung for. There's a very useful summary of all the services and charges here. Or why not just check out the diamond geezer consumer guide below?

Cheapest for a 30 second call: 118 247 (Yellow Pages) and 11 88 88 (both 20p)
...and the most expensive: 118 000 (Orange), 118 118 (The Number) (both 49p)
Cheapest for a one minute call: 11 88 88 (20p)
...and the most expensive: 118 118 (The Number) (58p)
Cheapest for a two minute call 118 811 (One) (30p)
...and the most expensive: 118 119, 118 180, 118 499 (all £1.75)

The one number to remember: 11 88 88 (20p per minute), the one with the cartoon superhero digits advert. Best value on all calls up to 1½ minutes.
The one number to avoid: 118 118 (49p + 9p per minute), the one with the 70s hairstyled runners. Probably the most successful ad campaign, but worst value on all calls up to 1 minute 9 seconds.
The most devious con-trick: BT is running two different numbers. It's heavily promoting the expensive 118 500 (30p + 25p per minute) and keeping distinctly quiet about the much cheaper flat-rate 118 707 (35p).
The cheapest alternatives: BT again, this time online where you're allowed ten free directory searches a day on their website. Or, of course, why not use one of those paper-based phone directories you have lying around at home (free).

The extra hidden charge: If you allow the operator to put you straight through to your desired number, it'll cost you more. BT's 118 500 charges 30p a minute for the duration of your new call, and 118 247 (Yellow Pages) as much as 40p a minute. Cheapest this time is 118 118 which charges 'only' 9p a minute.

The biggest rip-off: All of the charges above are for landlines only. If you want to use Directory Enquiries from your mobile (and, to be honest, that's when you're most likely to need to use it) then you may need to remortgage your house. All of the mobile companies have upped the price of calling anything 118 from their networks and are keeping very quiet about how nightmarishly expensive it is. Here's the geezer guide:

O2: The cheapest is 118 811 (One) (25p per minute), but most other services cost 65p per minute.
Vodafone: The cheapest is 118 500 (BT) (40p per minute), but for short calls avoid 118 118 (70p + 20p per minute).
Virgin: The cheapest is 11 88 88 (40p per minute), but both 118 500 and 118 118 will bleed you dry at 75p a minute instead.
T-mobile: No service costs less than 65p a minute (40p per minute), with 118 118 at 75p a minute and 118 000 (Orange) £1 a minute.
Orange: The cheapest is 118 000 (Orange) (surprise surprise) (59p + 30p per minute). Every other service costs at least 60p a minute for monthly contract customers, or £1 a minute if you're on pay-as-you-go.

Is it really worth us all suffering this confusing deregulated rip-off merely so that BT's 192 monopoly can be broken? I think we should all complain to Oftel. Why not ring them now on... erm...

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream