Communications watchdog Ofcom has said it plans to cap the cost of a directory enquiries call at £3.10 for 90 seconds after warning that the cost of such calls had “risen significantly” in recent years.
118 118 currently charges £11.23 for a 90 second call to its service.
Ofcom, which is holding a consultation into the practice, said: “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.”
It is often vulnerable or older people, who do not have access to the internet, who use directory enquiries. Around two per cent of adults - one million people UK-wide - use a 118 service, rising to four per cent among those over the age of 65.
Ofcom last investigated the sector in 2003, when it said that "bill shock" was not widespread. However, it said that prices had crept up since then and that many people were surprised at how much they have been charged when they got their phone bill,
Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services for Which?, said: “A lack of clarity around how much it costs to use a premium rate phone number means people can find themselves being hit in the pocket when the next phone bill arrives.”