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Last Updated: Monday, 27 October, 2003, 14:23 GMT
Consumers 'nostalgic' for 192
The Number advertisement
Millions have been spent getting the message across
Nearly seven out of ten UK consumers would like a return to the 192 directory enquiry service, a survey has found.

Many consumers claim that they are confused by the large number of directory enquiry services now on offer.

As a result, consumers are put off using the new services according to a study by household bill comparison service uSwitch.com.

The finding will be a further blow to Oftel, the telecoms regulator which has been criticised for abolishing 192.

Changeover

In August, BT's 192 directory enquiry service stopped giving out numbers after 46 years of service.

Against such overwhelming public sentiment and a mountain of complaints Oftel may be hard pressed to justify its decision in this instance
Jon Miller, uSwitch

It was replaced by a wide range of competing directory enquiry services - all beginning with the digits 118.

Oftel said that some of the new services charge just half the price of existing directory enquiry lines, leading to big savings for consumers.

However, with callers now free to choose between 20 rival directory enquiries firms - all with different telephone numbers - some have complained that the new system is confusing.

Recently staff working for directory enquiry service The Number - 118118 - were accused of deliberately cutting callers off in an attempt to earn extra cash.

The firm moved quickly to deal with the allegations and sacked several members of staff.

Memorable

Nevertheless, The Number 118118 was named as the service that most people can remember in the survey, followed by BT's 118500.

Although millions have been spent trying to make the public aware of their presence, more than two out of three people surveyed said that they had no idea how much the new services cost.

"Opening up markets to competition is usually a positive move for consumers with more choice, improved services and lower prices," said Jon Miller, head of operations at uSwitch.com.

"However, against such overwhelming public sentiment and a mountain of complaints Oftel may be hard pressed to justify its decision in this instance."




SEE ALSO:
Phone firm fails to save jobs
04 Sep 03  |  South East Wales
Which 118 has got your number?
22 Aug 03  |  Business


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