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Watchmop We poke our noses in where they shouldn't go

We hate 118, they haven't got our number...

The directory enquiries service run by BT used to be accessed by dialling 192 from any BT landline. You asked them to find a number, they found it, job done.

Now the system has been opened up to competition. Instead of dialling 192 you dial 118 followed by another three digits and you get through to one of about 10 new operators keen to take your money in return for the number you wanted.... or not.

Last night I tried to find the number of a local eatery, The Boot pub in Mappleborough Green, so I decided to try -

118 118 The Number, the one with the high-profile TV ad campaign.

I dialled and was greeted by a recorded message assuring me that I was through to The Number and that it was ever so good or somesuch twaddle. Then the inarticulate operator came on the line. I found it hard to understand a word he said but he found me a number and I dialled it.

"Hello, The Boot in Repton" said the cheery voice. Now Repton, as far as I remember, is near Derby, not Redditch or Studley as I had carefully explained to idiot-boy at 118118. Oh well 59p down the drain I'll try -

118 800, Directory Enquiries UK.

Now I appreciate that Mappleborough Green is a difficult name to get your head round if you are in India or wherever 118 800's operators are but I did try to spell Worcestershire and Redditch (the nearest town) to the chap but he utterly failed to comprehend and could offer me no number atall!

Another 20p down the pan, I decided to try -

118 888. "We'll save you" is their slogan...

Big mistake. The story was the same as 118 800. The operator was very friendly, freely admitting he had no idea what I was talking about and complaining that his spelling was no good. He had severe difficulty with the name of the pub, I had to spell Boot for him, "As in Wellington boot" I said, "Aah Vellington boot" he responded. I feared he was typing Vellington into his computer. Worcestershire was beyond him, he insisted that Warwickshire was what I wanted, probably true as the pub appears to be on the border between the two counties, but he was still unable to furnish me with a number for The Boot in Mappleborough Green.
He did find me a Boot pub in Flyford Flavel, but as I haven't a clue where that is, it wasn't much use.

118 500 is the number of BT's directory enquiries service, the old 192. I rang it and asked for a pub called The Boot in Worcestershire, the operator immediately asked "In Mappleborough Green?"
"Yes" I said.
Job done.

Isn't competition wonderful? So many new ways to waste your money, I guess that series of calls cost me two or three pounds. I fully expect BT's service to be discontinued now that there are so many competing operators after our business. Pity really, for once they actually seem to be doing a good job....


© Winamop

© Winamop 2004