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118 118 ticked off by regulators

DQ services warned to pull up socks

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The opening up of directory enquires (DQ) services in the UK is going "pretty well overall", according to telecoms regulator Oftel despite an outcry over the quality of some of the services on offer.

The assessment follows yesterday's hastily convened meeting between Oftel, premium rate watchdog ICSTIS and DQ operator The Number (118 118), which has been fingered for slapdash customer service.

Punters calling 118 118 have been cut off in mid call and given the wrong numbers amid allegations that some staff were trying to get bonus payments by hitting performance targets.

A spokesman for The Number admitted: "It has happened, we have caught employees doing it." As a result a dozen or so staff have been given the boot with a further 20 or so asked to leave because they were "not performing well enough".

At the meeting late yesterday afternoon Oftel and ICSTIS warned The Number that standards of customer service had to be maintained. Any operator failing to meet those standards faced the threat of regulatory action, warned the watchdogs.

As a result of the meeting the regulators will continue to monitor the performance of all DQ operators to ensure they're not ripping off the public. ®

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