Directory service charges 'daylight robbery' says shocked Sheffield pensioner

A Sheffield pensioner says he 'feels like he has been robbed' after seeing what he was charged for two calls to a directory enquiry service that lasted just over 90 seconds.

Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 12:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 12:46 pm
Stock image.

Terry Wiseman, of Birley Edge, called 118 118 twice in December but got the shock of his life when he got his bill via email earlier this month.

After picking himself up off the floor, the 75-year-old worked out that the rate he was charged equates to £11 a minute or an eye-watering £688 per hour.

However, both his service provider Plusnet and the telephone ombudsman say there is absolutely nothing he can do about it.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"I think it is just daylight robbery,” he said.

“I was just staggered that someone could get away with charging that amount of money.”

Terry says he has a phone deal with Plusnet but that certain numbers - including 118 118 - are excluded from it.

“When I called Plusnet to complain their attitude was that it was an expensive service,” said Terry.

“They didn’t seem to have much interest in it - I just found the whole thing absolutely unbelievable.

“I rang the telephone ombudsman and they told me there was no point complaining as there was no prospect of success.”

In terms of the money, Terry says the charge is not going to bankrupt him but that a similar fee could have a big effect on someone else.

“My daughter said I should just Google the number in future but I am a bit of a dinosaur in that regard,” he said.

A spokesperson for Plusnet said: “Plusnet takes very seriously the regulations set by Ofcom and the PSA (Phone-paid Services Authority) and is fully compliant.

“We include the below sentence on our website. We also split these charges out on the customer’s bill, so it’s clear what portion of the call Plusnet charged, and what costs we passed onto the service provider.

Service calls outside of your inclusive minutes: From 1 July 2015, the charge for calls to service numbers beginning 084, 087, 09 and 118 consists of a 9.58p per minute access charge from Plusnet, plus a service charge set by the company you called. For more information visit www.plus.net/ukcalling.

If Mr Wiseman is unhappy we would urge him to contact Ofcom and the PSA directly to make a complaint about 118.”

A 118 118 spokesperson said: “118 118 strives to account for the diverse needs of our customers by offering a range of services at different price points. For some speed and convenience is paramount, for others it may be cost.

“118 118 has always been committed to providing transparency and we clearly communicate our call charges and onward connection charges to all customers, providing them with the choice to decide how they get the information they need.

“The full list of services 118 118 offers is available to view online at 118118.com but we welcome the opportunity to inform Sheffield Star readers of the options here.

“The list of alternative services offered by 118 118 includes 118 811, a no frills £1 one search service, a free of charge ad-funded service on 0800 118 3733, an innovative mobile app that is subscription-based and costs £2.48 a month for unlimited calls and £4.98 a month for unlimited calls and connections and a free website search on 118118.com.”