The dark world of directory enquiries

Hello what power-abusing monopoly would you like?

Oftel mulls BT '192' monopoly

I think you might find that the 118XX idea is a European directive, since the same thing was introduced here in Ireland a few months back. We didn't go for the option where xx is 01, 02, etc. and currently have:

11811: Eircom
11844: Eircell
11850: Conduit

And an Esat one, the number for which I'm not sure. It seems as if they asked the companies what final two digits they'd like.

Colm


Thanks for an interesting story.

However, you've been too kind to BT. You're right that you'll be stung £1.10 if you call International Directory Enquiries (153). What very few people realise is that it's actually £1.10 PER MINUTE with a one-minute minimum.

So you could easily end up paying the maximum of an amazing £4.40 if BT can't find the number straightaway. That's probably several times the cost of the international call. Do their staff and equipment really cost anything like £66 per hour?

However, calls to Inland DQ (192) started off at a flat fee of nine metered units which totalled 45p, not 10p as you stated. BT made an embarrassingly obscene profit even by their £100-a-second standards, so they dropped it down to 25p. Then of course, surprise, surprise, they ratcheted it back up to 40p and hoped we wouldn't notice.

And why has the useless Oftel not told BT to restore Directories in phone boxes now that they charge for DQ? In the USA, land of unfettered capitalism, almost every payphone has a directory and probably Yellow Pages as well, even in the roughest areas. So why can't ours? How about publicising a few alternatives to 192?

  • Browse a Web Directory such as www.bt.com/phonenetuk which offer unlimited enquiries on the web, so only the marginal cost of surfing, if applicable. Many similar services elsewhere e.g. www.goldenpages.ie in Ireland, www.switchboard.com (N.America, very good).
  • Wait until you need two numbers from 192, then stay on the line and make the second enquiry at no extra cost.
  • Use an alternative telco such as Var-Tec. Dial 1363 - 192 and it costs 30p instead of 40p.
  • Call from a BT payphone: 11p/minute with 20p minimum, charged in units of 10p. A fair bit cheaper, especially for international enquiries.
  • Try calling SCOOT on 0800 192 192 (or Talking Pages on 0800 600 900) if it's a commercial enquiry.
  • Call 001 800 555 1212 if it a company in North America that's likely to have a toll-free number. Alternatively, 001 <area-code> 555 1212 for ordinary enquiries. You pay for a call to the USA, it's but still much cheaper than 153 especially if you use a reseller.

Regards,
Gerald Dolby-Gray


I've sat in with directory enquiry operators when I used to work closely with the industry, they don't have an easy job, they are monitored very closely on every call they take (down to tenths or hundredths of seconds), and have to deal with some real fuckwits. Not a job I could do!

Having said that the recent rudeness is not down to them, it's down to BT policy, each call has to be dealt with and closed within 35 seconds or they HAVE to cut you off.

Pete


Well - funny you should post this story about 192.

So there I was at Waterloo Station and needing to phone someone whose number I had forgotten to bring with me before I left home. Never mind, I thought, I'll phone Directory Enquiries - it's a free call from a phone box.

Picked up receiver - dialled 192 - the digital display said "Free Call" and then, without connecting me said "Call Finished". I then noticed "Sorry - no coins accepted at this time" on the display and assumed a duff phone, so I tried the next one. Same result.

Finally, on a third phone - I put some money in before dialling 192. I was given the number I needed - and charged 20p. Funny - I thought the display had said "Free Call".

Ah well - who understands the secret of the (B)ermuda (T)riangle phonebox?

Regards
Neil

P.S. Bet it's not as functional as the Audi Phone Box.

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