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If you want a cheap bill, who you gonna call? Not 118

118 118

If you’re looking for a phone number, you may be tempted to call directory enquiries. Although these heavily advertised 118 services can be useful, they could leave you with a hefty bill…

Calling 118 numbers is much more expensive since we last investigated in 2009. Back then it cost just £1.08 a minute to call 118 118 or 118 500 from a BT landline.

It now costs at least £4.45 to call these 118 numbers from most landlines, with every additional minute costing a further £2.46.

Charges are even higher for mobile phone users, who can end up with an incredible £10 bill for a 61-second call.

The 118 rip-off

Perhaps you think that’s pricey enough? However, you can expect much more if you let the service connect you to your chosen number. That’s because you’ll keep paying the premium rate for the entire length of the call.

One Which? member told us that they’d had to pay £27 on three separate occasions for calls he’d made from his mobile phone. He’d asked the 118 provider to connect the calls for him, which was especially infuriating as they would’ve been covered by the free minutes in his phone package had he dialled them himself.

Clearer prices for directory enquiries

Although providers have to include pricing information in their promotional activities, they don’t have to tell you when you call up unless you opt to be connected to your requested number. Even then it’s not always clear how much you’ll pay, and it’s easy to see why so many people end up with horrendous bills.

In the summer Ofcom will introduce a new system to make prices of 118 services clearer, which will make it easier to shop around. But we don’t think it goes far enough. We want providers to do more to set out their costs when you call, and then let you end the call without charge if you are not happy.

Avoiding high 118 costs

In the meantime always search online for phone numbers if at all possible. If you have to use directory enquiries then opt for a cheaper service. Some of the phone providers offer their own directory enquiry numbers. Even 118 118 and 118 500 run cheaper alternatives that offer a more basic service. Oh, and never agree to have the call connected for you.

If you’ve been hit by high charges for using 118 services, or have thoughts on what can be done to stop others being affected, tell us in the comments below.

angela says:
2 August 2017

My broadband was down so dialled 118118 to get sky phonenumber was on phone fpr 1min6sec they said cost of callwould be £4.70 which I thought was terrible? Just looked at phonebill on sky & I was charged £11.72..How do they get away with this? Can I get in touch with 118118 to query the cost?Without being charged yet again or is there another number anyone know pls? …ty


Sorry to say Angela calls to 118-118 went up recently to £9 for calling them PLUS the cost of the call . Money Saving Expert states- May-2017- firms product information states that calls to 118-118 cost £4.49/call PLUS £4.49/minute and that is JUST the service charge you have to add on your providers access charge so its £9 minimum BEFORE you start talking and if the call is operator connected its even higher . 118-118 from a landline -3 minutes=£18.32 (approx ) -from a mobile =£19.61 (approx ) . As you used -118-118 I take it you are not a BT customer ( 118-500 ) which is cheaper. IMHO – a complete Rip-Off ! There is something you and other 118 users can do call-118-811 =£1/call – slower service though.

Ishaq Khan says:
13 August 2017

Just been ripped off by 118118 for £9.10 for a 7 second call. Sky were also complacent in that it doesn’t offer a 1## call barring facility. This is more than a premium rate call I think so just as they have 09 call barring they should offer 1 prefix call barring….not interested…a matter for
OFCOM also seem impotent in this matter as does advertising standards as I’ve never noticed the rip off call charging on tv as one does with for example Rip off loan nterest rates. 1000% +
I shan’t be using sky or 118 ever again. Legalised theft is becoming rife. …what is society coming to.


Ishaq Thats a good point I had to end up paying BT to bar premium calls from my land-line as it was not part of the normal barring service as it brings in money. Its handy in a dispute if “something ” happens to my line

Richard says:
22 August 2017

As a pensioner, I try to save money so i use Vonage (Voice Over Internet Protocol or VOIP) to make calls using my Broadbanc connection, My wife rang 118118. It cost £10.57 each for two one minut calls and £17.74 for a three minute call (July & August 2017). I have now stored 0800 118 3733 in the handset’s phonebook, which are free calls. She will have to listen to the adverts as a form of retribution!

stephen kennedy says:
6 September 2017

Rang 118 118 to get a number for Santander Bank, They provided a phone no, which had ceased being used, O rang them back, got a second number which just rang out, rang again for another branch tel no.
£ calls lasting a few seconds each, cost £34


I usually look up such numbers on-line rather than use a directory service. On the rare occasions when a person’s number was not available on-line I have used BT’s 118 500 service which has always been very fast and reliable. I don’t allow them to put me through because they charge extra for that.


John,s right its better to look up on-line than dial directory services. Total cost £34 -OMG ! .


A very useful site is:

Typing santander into the Company Name gives a long list of free and landline numbers.

These numbers won’t always work as they are entered by the public when they find an elusive number but they are definitely worth a go. Some companies don’t want you to have free or cheap numbers and frequently change them.

If a number doesn’t work or you find one of the unverified numbers lower down in the light blue section does work, you can report it at Contact Us and select Correct/Incorrect Number Report from the drop-down selection.