Confusion over new UK Calling charges for 118 numbers

YORK – July 24, 2015 – 118 365, one of the UK’s cheapest directory enquiry services, is aiming to clarify the new charges for 118 numbers that came into effect on 1 July 2015, amidst growing consumer confusion.

When Ofcom announced a new system that would make the cost of calling these numbers more transparent and easier to understand, many people were still left confused. The cost of calling a service number is now split by a service charge and access charge. The access charge is set by caller’s phone service provider and the service charge is set by the service provider.

However, many 118 services are still charging an amount per call, plus their own service charge with the access charge added on top of that. In addition, it is not immediately clear what the access charge will be and callers are having to contact their phone service provider to find out.

For example, a one minute call to 118 118 from a BT landline costs £2.75 per call plus £2.99 per minute with an access charge of 9.58p, totalling £5.84.

John Lewis, Managing Director of 118 365 says, “We aim to make our charging as simple as possible and do not charge customers per call. Our service costs 55p a minute plus the cost of the access charge, that’s it. Although the total price of a call has gone up slightly due to the introduction of the access charge, we remain one of the cheapest directory enquiry options out there.”

To help callers determine what their access charge will be, 118 365 has included links on its FAQ page to information pages provided by the main telephone companies that bill their callers. Access charges appear to be varying from 5p for TalkTalk landline calls up to 25p for O2 calls.

118 365 is urging its callers to remember that the access charge is paid per minute and is not just a one-off charge.

People can find more information on the cost of calling directory enquiries by checking this daily updated infographic which charts the cost of a one minute call to different 118 numbers.

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“UKPB Free Directory Enquiries” available in Google Play App Store

An app to look up UK telephone numbers and addresses for free, now available on Android devices.

YORK – September 16, 2014 – Now available, the app UKPB Free Directory Enquiries offers Android users the ability to search the full UK telephone directory for free, avoiding costly 118 calls. It allows customers to find telephone and address information for people and businesses, as well as look up postcodes and dialling codes. Electoral roll and mobile telephone number information is also available. This is the first Android app to be developed by Simunix, the company behind the directory enquiries website, ukphonebook.com.

UK based users of the UKPB app have 10 ‘free credits’ every day that can be used to search the phonebook, Royal Mail and dialling code data. ‘Paid credits’ may also be purchased in order to search the edited UK electoral roll and find mobile phone numbers where available.

To perform a people search using the phonebook data, users enter a name and location to get the telephone number and full address as well as an interactive map of that location. Name-only and address-only searching can be performed using the electoral roll data.

Businesses can be searched by business name, or the app can use the customer’s location information to find the results nearest to them. Alternatively, a location can be specified for more targeted searching.

“Since launching our ukphonebook.com website in 1999, we have seen a huge increase in the cost of directory enquiries information. With the launch of our UKPB Android app, we are offering quick and easy access to free directory enquiries as an alternative to dialling expensive 118 numbers.” Says John Lewis, Managing Director of Simunix.

UKPB Free Directory Enquiries is available to download worldwide for free from the Google Play Store. An iOS version of the UKPB app is currently in development.

The UKPB app is developed by Simunix, a directory services company based in York.

To download the app: http://bit.ly/1uOqt1f

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Burying the cost of dialling 118

4 April 2014, York

The cost of calling directory enquiries is continuing to rise and can now cost more than £3.50 for a one minute call from a landline.

According to research performed by York-based directory services provider Simunix, the amounts charged for a one minute landline call to the two biggest directory services are currently £3.58 for 118 118 and £2.98 for a call to BT’s 118 500. Costs can spiral even more if you ask to be put through to your requested number.

When the directory enquiries market was deregulated in 2003, it was thought that opening the market up to new firms would increase competition, therefore reducing costs to consumers. However, the opposite became true when the cost of calling directory enquiries began to rise and has continued to do so ever since.

But just how transparent are these directory enquiries providers about the cost of their services? Many of them display the cost on their home page, albeit in very small print at the very bottom of the page. There are those providers, however, that will go so far as to bury the cost of their service in the About Us page, making it difficult to keep up with the regularly changing costs.

In answer to this Simunix has created a daily updated infographic to chart the cost of a one minute call to different 118 numbers. It shows The Number’s and Maureen’s directory enquiries services both coming out as the most expensive at £3.58 for a one minute call with BT coming second at £2.98 for the same call. The lowest cost option listed on the infographic is 118 365 at 50.9p for a one minute call.

Consumers also need to be aware that dialling these numbers from a mobile phone can incur even greater costs. O2 customers can expect to pay £5 per minute for dialling a 118 number, the EE network charges £4.50 minimum for dialling 118 118 and a one minute call to 118 500 on the Vodafone network will set you back £3.75.

Simunix hopes to raise awareness of the true cost of dialling 118 numbers and asks that consumers not be blinded by the adverts they see on television. There are many lower cost options out there and even some online services that offer free directory enquiries.

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Elvis Presley stole my name

18 February 2014, York

There are currently 32 Elvis Presleys living in the UK according to ukphonebook.com – the online UK Directory Enquiries provider. Further investigation reveals a range of celebrity namesakes with Brad Pitt, Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe and even a Wesley Snipes appearing in the telephone directory and electoral register.

It would appear parents have also been taking inspiration from fictional characters when naming their children, with James Bond listed 253 times. There are also 45 Harry Potters and 20 Don Drapers, although this is most likely a coincidence as those born since the creation of these characters are unlikely to have a telephone directory listing and certainly have yet to reach voting age.

Believe it or not there are even some parents out there unkind enough to name their children after famous criminals and villains with names such as Charles Manson, Al Capone and even a Darth Vader appearing in the UK electoral roll.

But what’s it like when your name is famous but you aren’t? Laura Cunningham, Marketing Executive at ukphonebook.com says, “I was recently talking to a Keith Lemon and asked him what it was like sharing his name with the comedian. He said, ’the problem is, everybody who hears my name expects me to be funny. It almost feels like part of my identity has been stolen by the character’”.

Whilst many of us may find this amusing, it can quickly turn into a nuisance for people forced to field comments about their more famous namesakes.

Managing Director of ukphonebook.com, John Lewis, is no stranger to the perils of having a famous name. “I’ve become quite good at pretending people are being original when they make jokes about my name. Almost every time I have to give my name I’m told it’s a shame I’m not the John Lewis.”

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ukphonebook.com introduces the Corporate Share Account

Simunix, the operator of ukphonebook.com, has widened the availability of its Internet corporate directory enquiries (DA) service by introducing what it calls the Corporate Share Account.

With over 3 million UK users, ukphonebook.com is one of the reasons why the numerous 118xxx voice DA services have seen call volumes decline so rapidly over recent years. From a peak of over 800 million calls annually, the market, according to some industry observers, is less than half that figure today.

Simunix CEO, John Lewis has a simple explanation for the decline; “We started to supply a dedicated online DA service to large organisations looking for cost-savings over a decade ago, but as the cost of calling 118 numbers has increased with some charging as much as £3 per call, we were getting thousands of customer requests to make the Corporate service available to smaller businesses.”

John Lewis continued; “No one should be paying £3 just to get a phone number. I think the voice DA pricing has got out of hand. When Ofcom deregulated the service in 2003, it was with the intention that competition would lead to keener pricing and innovative new services. All that has happened is that the market is monopolised by two companies rather than just one and service levels appear to have declined rather than improved.”

The Corporate Share Account is aimed at SMEs, charities, sole-traders etc. that have an important, but infrequent need for up-to-date directory information. The entry level is now set at just £50 per annum and the account can be shared amongst a group of workers – hence the name, Corporate Share Account.

But ukphonebook.com’s Corporate Share Account offers businesses more than just cheap directory enquiries. Users can access such things as Royal Mail’s Postal Address Finder data, the UK edited electoral roll, the Telephone Preference Scheme (TPS) data file of registered telephone numbers and access to all of the information stored at Companies House.

Established in 1998, Simunix was the first non-telecom company to license BT’s OSIS directory database and provide free, online directory enquiries to anyone with an Internet connection.

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Unlimited directory enquiries iPhone App

21 February 2012, York

A new application that provides unlimited searching of UK telephone and address information has been launched onto the iPhone app market. iPhoneBookUK has been developed by York based directory services provider Simunix which pioneered the UK’s first online directory enquiries service – ukphonebook.com.

In the past, directory enquiries iPhone apps have been notoriously poor performers with 192.com and BT’s apps receiving an average of only two and a half star reviews and a barrage of negative comments often relating to hidden costs and inaccurate information.

Downloading iPhoneBookUK costs £2.99 and provides unlimited searching (with a fair usage policy). Searches can be used to look up any business and residential telephone and address information at no additional charge.

The app searches a database of over 30 million records sourced from BT OSIS. The data is updated nightly with around 40,000 changes made every 24 hours.

Users are given the option to “find people” or “find businesses” by selecting the relevant tab. They fill in the information they have such as name and location, and then tap the big blue search button. The results are displayed alongside a Google map and users can add the telephone and address information to their contacts or dial the number directly from the app.

A function to find people and businesses ‘near me’ has been added that uses location information to find results nearest to a user’s current position. John Lewis, Managing Director of Simunix says, “For example, if you’re in a strange city and need to find the nearest post office you just type in ‘post office’, select ‘near me’ and search.”

John continues, “We have spent years campaigning to get people using online directory enquiries as online services are a fraction of the price of dial up 118 numbers. However, we realise you can’t always get to a computer. The aim of iPhoneBookUK was to develop an app that allowed users to quickly perform functions they would usually do at a fixed computer.”

“The user interface is very straightforward. It is a simple telephone and address lookup that provides both residential and business information. We envisage people using this app when they’re on the go and need to quickly find a phone number or address.”

Simunix have begun development of an Android and BlackBerry version of the app.

iPhoneBookUK is now available on the iTunes App Store: Click here to download iPhoneBookUK

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Simunix acquires .co domain for new API

4 August 2011, York

The York-based directory solutions provider Simunix has become one of the increasing number of organisations to adopt Colombia’s most recent export by launching its new API on the .co domain which was made internationally available a year ago.

The launch of www.T2A.co marks the first time Simunix has made its full range of data available to other web developers and allowed them to incorporate it into their own websites and business applications.

Users of T2A can find, validate and verify data by searching the Simunix database of over 300 million records which includes BT and Royal Mail telephone and address information, UK Electoral Roll data, the TPS and CTPS registers, data validation records and Ordnance Survey maps.

T2A homepage

T2A homepage

Managing Director, John Lewis said: “Businesses of all types and from all sectors have a need for directory information. We already provide directory solutions to a number of organisations throughout the UK so creating our own API was a natural next step for us and has meant that we can deliver our directory solutions right to the heart of our customers’ organisations.”

When asked about the reasons for adopting the .co domain, John responded, “T2A is such a simple and easy-to-use product. We wanted to reflect this simplicity in our URL; www.T2A.co is short, memorable and easy to understand.”

Simunix promises the most competitive rate of pricing for this type of data service and is offering volume discounts across all API functions available within T2A.

Ian Martin, IT Director at Simunix adds, “All the data is stored on the Simunix servers and we hold all the relevant licenses needed for the data supplied. Organisations wishing to use this data can access it without worrying about the practicalities of storing such a vast amount of data or of obtaining the appropriate (and often expensive) licences.”

Simunix has included extensive documentation and has built a developer forum into the T2A website in order to help users through the integration process.

Users can access T2A by visiting www.t2a.co

Simunix is the company behind the widely used online directory enquiries service ukphonebook.com, the corporate version of which is in use by almost half of the UK’s police forces in addition to numerous other public and private sector organisations.

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Through the cloud of software delivery

14 April 2011, York

John Lewis, Managing Director of York-based online directory services provider Simunix, was guest speaking at the “Through The Clouds With Intelecom” conference in London earlier this week about the growing importance of cloud computing and its effect on the Directory Enquiries (DQ) industry.

Simunix has been providing ‘cloud based’ services since the launch of its online directory enquiries website, ukphonebook.com in 2000. ‘Cloud’ describes the way in which software, data, services etc. are delivered to a computer without the need for large IT departments.

Companies (and people) often have all their software installed on their own servers, PC or Mac and the data is hosted locally meaning huge IT departments are necessary to manage the hardware and network infrastructure.

John explained, “Cloud changes this and the concept of Software as a Service, or SaaS as it is known, becomes the norm”. This means that as Internet browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari become more powerful, very sophisticated programs can be delivered to computer desktops via the Internet.

John then took it a stage further, “Thanks to high-speed broadband, your photographs, music, films, spreadsheets, databases etc., can also be stored and accessed remotely”. The main advantage to this method of storing data is that it is completely secure and is accessible from anywhere in the world that has a good Internet connection.

At the conference, John spoke about the paradigm shift needed in the minds of DQ operators like BT and The Number. He suggested they move away from the traditional call-centre based service delivery of 118 xxx services in favour of home-workers delivering the services using Simunix Ltd’s 118-Express solution.

118-Express works in tandem with Intelecom’s telephony platform to provide a full featured DQ solution that will work from any location. The potential cost-savings for DQ providers are significant as they can focus on service quality and value for money issues rather than managing huge call-centres and the associated hardware installations.

The average cost of a 118xxx call is now almost £2 compared to 50p before the service was opened up to competition in 2003.

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UK organisations wasting over £25,000 a year on expensive 118 calls

23 March 2011, York

A recent survey conducted by York-based Simunix, provider of the online directory enquiries service ukphonebook.com, of its 2 million plus users has revealed an alarming lack of awareness amongst its corporate customers of the true cost of calling directory enquiries from mobile phones.

Many large organisations, both private and in the public sector that provide mobile phones for employees are unaware of the unnecessary charges staff are accruing by calling 118 numbers from their mobile devices. An awareness campaign has been launched by Simunix after its market researchers found that some organisations could be saving over £25,000 a year by encouraging staff to use the mobile version of ukphonebook.com instead.

Simunix performed a study to determine exactly how much the various mobile networks charged for a one minute call to the two biggest directory enquiries providers, The Number’s 118 118 and BT’s 118 500.

The 3 network emerged as the most expensive network for calling 118 118 and 118 500, charging £2.55 and £3.58 respectively for a one minute call. Orange, T-mobile and Vodafone were all around the £2 mark with O2 emerging as the cheapest option charging £1.53 for a one minute call to either of these numbers (this is actually cheaper than dialling from a BT landline).

“We were shocked to discover how much people are paying for this information”, says James Bradley, a Marketing Executive at Simunix. “If organisations are to clamp down on this unnecessary expenditure, they need to offer their staff an alternative”.

Simunix currently provides organisations of all sizes throughout the UK with access to its own online directory enquiries service, ukphonebook.com. Many organisations have reported savings of thousands of pounds a year since incorporating the service into their systems as it removes the need to dial expensive 118 directory enquiries numbers.

The mobile version of this online directory enquiries service is now being offered to all corporate ukphonebook.com customers. Most of the UK’s police forces have already incorporated the service into their mobile operations.

James continues, “ukphonebook.com for mobiles is the perfect alternative. It’s a low cost, easily accessible source of information”.

Users of ukphonebook.com can search for telephone numbers and addresses from as little as 3p a search. If an organisation was to perform an average of 600 directory enquiries calls from mobile phones per month, they could potentially be saving up to £25,560 a year by using Corporate ukphonebook.com for mobiles instead.

The cost of calling directory enquiries, whether it is from a mobile or a landline has risen steadily since the industry was deregulated in 2002. Even dialling 118 118 or 118 500 from a BT landline costs users £1.68 and £1.65 respectively for a one minute call. Unless organisations take measures to prevent their staff from regularly calling these numbers, they will continue to lose money.

However, for those who cannot be convinced away from dialling for directory enquiries, Simunix are encouraging them to do a bit of research into the different 118 services available. John Lewis, Managing Director of Simunix says, “People will dial the number that first pops into their minds, which thanks to aggressive advertising campaigns tends to mean they are calling two of the most expensive services out there”.

He continues, “We are encouraging people to take the time to find cheaper alternatives. At Simunix we provide our own directory assistance number, 118 365 which costs 50p for a one minute call – that’s a third the price of calling 118 118 or 118 500”.

Simunix first launched the online directory enquiries service, ukphonebook.com in 1999. The public version of the website is available to private users who are given 5 free search credits daily with the option to buy more if needed. There is also a mobile version of the public website which is free to search and requires no registration. Since then, the company has gone on to introduce a number of additional directory solutions to the market including 118 365, 118-Express, TPS Manage and ZoneSearch.

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Simunix NOT charging £49 per minute for directory enquiries number 118 365

14 February 2011, York

The directory services provider, Simunix recently caused many of their customers a great deal of confusion after sending out a well-meaning marketing email reminding them of the low cost directory enquiries service, 118 365.

A statement in the small print of the email had been misread by numerous recipients and led them to believe they were being charged £49 a minute for calls to the Simunix directory enquiries telephone number, 118 365.

This is not the case. The small print stated that calls to 118 365 cost 50p for the first minute and then 0.83p per second after the first minute.

The problems arose when recipients misread the 0.83p to be 83p per second meaning the second minute would indeed end up costing £49. This resulted in the Simunix offices receiving an avalanche of emails, telephone calls and posts to its blog, Facebook and Twitter pages with customers voicing their opposition to the elevated price.

The 118 365 marketing email that caused the confusion

In an effort to clear the confusion, Simunix has posted a new blog entry detailing the correct pricing structure of 118 365 and has released the following statement via its Facebook page:

“Some people seem to have been a little confused by our last email so I just want to clear the air. A call to 118 365 costs 50p for the first minute and then 0.83p per second after the first minute… NOT 83p per second as some of our users have mistakenly read!”

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