As a result of a growing concern about directory enquiry prices rising steeply, Ofcom have made the decision to introduce a price cap on calls to 118 numbers.
Research by Ofcom has determined that some directory enquiry service providers can charge almost £20 for an average 90 second call. 118 118, the most popular directory enquiry service in this instance would cost £11.23 if made through those same providers.
Whilst other, cheaper services are available, Ofcom's research shows that customers normally call the numbers they most easily remember. Additionally, while the number of calls to 118 services have been falling rapidly (around 40%) every year, over 1 million people in the UK (many of them elderly) still use the services.
As a result of the steady rise in call costs to these numbers, Ofcom have estimated that around 450,000 consumers a year are paying £2.4m in total more than they'd expect for their calls. Ofcom are now stepping in, by capping the maximum amount that a 118 service can charge at £3.65, bringing the levels back down to those seen in 2012. This should be therefore much closer to what people would expect to pay.
To allow providers time to adjust their prices and billing systems, the price cap will come into force on 1 April 2019.
More information about these new price caps can be found in the Ofcom release.