British Telecommunications Public Limited Company

Publication Date
9 January 2014
Case Reference
Track 2
Adjudicated Party
British Telecommunications Public Limited Company
Service Type
Directory enquiry
Tribunal's final assessment
Very Serious
Code 12 para 4.8.2d - Fine
Code 12 para 4.8.2b - Formal reprimand and/or warning
Code 12 para 4.8.2i - General refunds
Breaches raised
Code 12 2.2.5 Rules relating to pricing
Code 12 2.3.4 Fairness

Between 29 May 2013 and 17 September 2013, PhonepayPlus received 27 complaints in relation to a directory enquiries service’s pricing, (the “Service”) operated by British Telecommunications Public Limited Company on the premium rate number 118 500. Prior to 27 July 2013, consumers were charged 62 pence per call plus £1.99 per minute. After 27 July 2013, the cost of the Service was 59 pence per call plus £2.39 per minute. The Service commenced operation in August 2003 and continues to operate. The maximum cost incurred by a complainant was reported to be £81.00.

The majority of complainants stated that pricing was not stated in the promotional material or that the pricing information was incorrect. In addition, some consumers experienced bill shock. In-house monitoring of the Service revealed concerns regarding the length of the interactive voice response (“IVR”) provided to some consumers.

The Executive raised the following potential breaches of the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (12th Edition) (the "Code"):

  • Rule 2.2.5 – Pricing prominence and proximity
  • Rule 2.3.4 – Undue delay

The Tribunal upheld all breaches of the Code raised. The Level 2 provider’s revenue in relation to the Service was within the range of Band 1 (£500,000+). The Tribunal considered the case to be very serious and issued a formal reprimand, a fine of £225,000 and a requirement that the Level 2 provider must refund all consumers who claim a refund, for the full amount spent by them on the Service, within 28 days of their claim, save where there is good cause to believe that such claims are not valid, and provide evidence to PhonepayPlus that such refunds have been made.