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Thus pulls out of 118 to ‘protect reputation’

Regulators urged to clamp down on 'cowboy' operators

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Scottish telco Thus - best known for its Demon Internet brand - is pulling out of the 118 directory enquiries (DQ) business to "protect its reputation".

Its decision follows a damning report earlier this week which found that, on average, four in ten of all calls made to DQ services end up with punters being given the wrong information.

While Thus managed to get 61 per cent of calls for business numbers right, it only managed to get a third of residential numbers correct.

In a statement Thus chief exec, Bill Allan said: "We were extremely concerned and disappointed by the results of the Oftel survey. As a consequence we have reviewed our outsourcing arrangements and decided to withdraw the 118 service that is offered on our behalf by an outside supplier.

"To protect our reputation and quality ethos, we have therefore decided to withdraw our outsourcing arrangement and end our 118 service."

Thus declined to name the operator that ran its outsourced 118 service.

News of Thus' decision to pull out of the DQ sector comes as another operator has condemned regulators Oftel and ICSTIS for failing to take action against poorly performing DQ services.

Said Steve Warner, MD of 118 499: "Oftel, which ordered the end of BT's 192 monopoly in the first place, is now doing too little to regulate the industry that it created and is responsible for, and is allowing poor providers to hammer consumer confidence in directory enquiries. You could be forgiven for thinking that it's a state-sponsored rip-off.

"Oftel seems to think that market forces will prevail. We're not so sure; cowboy builders still seem to do quite well because there's insufficient regulation, so why not 118 providers?

"We'd love to increase our market share, but customers have a huge choice of 118 numbers, including many that are absolutely rubbish but which are free to trade." ®

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