Direct Save Telecom is launching a new monitoring service aimed at keeping customers in the loop about the connection charges associated with directory enquiry calls.
Services such as 118 118 occasionally mean that customers are charged more than the usual rate to be connected, which has seen some callers noticing a spike in their monthly bills. Direct Save Telecom cites a 7 minute call that would normally cost 79p ended up costing over £11 because the customer agreed to be directly connected.
Direct Save Telecom’s CEO, Stavros Tsolakis (pictured), feels that these services have to be regulated better to put an end to customer confusion. He is also demanding that prior warnings are given to customers before they are hit with high rate connection charges.
“The big problem is people do not know how much these services cost, and then are astonished when they are hit with a huge telecom bill. This is what we at Direct Save are trying to prevent. It is simply not fair that there are no prior warnings about the high rate connection charges,” said Tsolakis.
From now on, any sudden changes in phone charges will prompt a phone call from Direct Save’s team.
“Direct Save monitors all their customers’ phone trends so we can see if anything irregular is occurring... Customer service is very important to us, and this is why we take the time to closely monitor them all. Yes, it is time consuming, but it is also a big plus for them that they know we are helping to protect them against needlessly high call charges,” added Tsolakis.
Direct Save Telecom operates one of the cheapest broadband services in the UK, charging £2.49 a month (not including line rental) for its basic package. Direct Save Telecom also recently launched a service aimed specifically at rural customers who are located ‘off the network’ of other ISPs. Off network customers normally have to pay around £10 a month extra on top of standard rates.
Update: 118 118 got back to us with a statement clarifying their charges:
"We don't control what other networks may levy in addition to our advertised prices, and this can lead to surprise, particularly for mobile users who should check with their network operators about premium rate charges.
We are also unique among 118 providers in that, after 10 minutes of being connected to a chosen number, the caller will hear a short beep, repeated every 10 minutes until the call has ended. This will only be heard by the caller and not by the person that called. The service is automated and is part of our policy to help callers manage the cost of calls.
Note that callers are ALWAYS played an automated message with the details of costs prior to being call connected, as well as being given the number so they can hang up and re-dial direct."
Calls to 118 118 cost 38p per call plus £1.59 per minute from most landlines, with a minimum 60 second charge. So the basic cost of any 118 188 call is £1.97.
"This is how BT and Virgin Media charge for landlines, but there may be differences in how other networks charge," a spokesperson told us.
Mobile operators (and some smaller landline operators) apply an additional handling charge to some elements of the call which will change what you pay.
"Note that we always send mobile callers a text of the number you have requested. So if you choose not to be put straight through, you can easily connect via the texted message.
This could save you money, because the minute by minute charge applied by mobile operators is usually much higher than our own per minute rate of £1.59."