Steve Hugh Award
Shropshire Star article, 28 October 2013
A new directory inquiries service that could cost less than half to call than many others, while at the same time putting money into the local health service, has been launched in Shropshire.
Caradoc Medical Services, a national buying consortium for small and medium businesses, including GP practices, has launched Caradoc Directory Enquiries with its 118 717 number. Caradoc 118 717 costs £1.23 per minute compared to well-known numbers such as 118 118, which costs £2.58 per minute, and 118 500, which costs £2.98. Any money made aside from basic running costs will be invested in local health services to support a range of projects and initiatives.
The service was initially conceived as a way of saving money for Caradoc Medical Services members, but will now be open for anybody to call.
The news comes after communications watchdog Ofcom announced new plans to simplify charges imposed by directory inquiries services. One of the reforms will see phone operators told to include breakdowns of directory inquiry charges on bills rather than presenting a lump sum. The Number UK, which runs market leader 118 118, charges a 79p connection fee plus £1.79 a minute for the call, while BT, which runs the other market leader 118 500, costs 59p plus £2.39 a minute. They remain the biggest players in the market despite there being 400 alternative services.
Peter Masters, business manager for Caradoc Medical Services, said:
“We saw the opportunity to help our members save money and worked with our telephony supplier Fluid Network Solutions to set up the service. Fluid has already helped many of our members make significant savings through their telephony solutions and this seemed like another cost-saving service we could offer our members. But it is not just our members that can take advantage of 118 717 as it is open for everybody in the UK, just like every other directory service.”
BT’s original 192 number for directory inquiries was axed in 2003 and the market was opened up to more providers, with the idea that this competition would cut prices, give people more choice and help to improve services. But Mr Masters said, “Overall the costs to call directory inquiry services have significantly increased and some people are confused about what number to call and the price they pay.”
Caradoc 118 717 will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Caradoc Medical Service was set up in 2009 by out-of-hours GP co-operative Shropdoc. The group now has more than 20,000 members across the UK, representing over 1,500 GP surgeries, 25 regional GP out of hours organisations, dentists, vets, schools, osteopaths and other small and medium sized businesses.