BT in 118 500 price hike

Oh yes it is, oh no it's not, etc

BT is 'revising' charges for its 118 500 directory enquiries (DQ) service, although analysts claim it is an inflation-busting hike in the cost of looking up phone numbers.

From 25 March, the connection charge of calls to BT's 118 500 service will increase from 25p to 40p. At the same time, the UK's dominant fixed-line telco is cutting the per-minute charge for calls from 30p to 15p per minute.

BT claims that the new pricing is in response to the increasing number of customers using the call connect service - whereby callers are put straight through to their required number instead of having to hang up and redial.

BT insists the move is designed to give punters "even better value for money", with the cost of a one-minute call remaining at 55p.

However, analysts at research outfit 118tracker.com reckon this is an inflation-busting move that makes BT's DQ service one of the most expensive among high-profile 118 operators.

A 118tracker.com analyst told The Register that BT's price revision would increase the cost of calls by around 11 per cent. "A majority of users will pay more for the service," he said.

A BT spokesman denied this, insisting that the average cost of calls to BT's 118 500 service would remain the same.

Both BT and 118tracker.com did manage to agree on something, though. Since deregulation last summer, the volume of calls to DQ services in the UK has halved to around 300 million a year.

It's thought that the publicity surrounding the availability of rival DQ services brought into focus the cost of making DQ calls. Instead, people are using free online services and phone books more often. ®

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