Good causes cash in with new phone enquiries link-ups

The directory enquiries service 118 499, which donates 5p from every call to the British Red Cross and Barnardo's, has been voted the fastest and most efficient of the new services in a BBC Online poll.

Operated by Share Communications, 118 499 does not offer to connect calls, thereby keeping prices down. Since 192 was switched off last month, companies have been competing fiercely for the 600 million calls made to directory enquiries every year.

The top spot in the BBC survey has been welcomed by 118 499 which said it is winning customer loyalty with a fraction of the marketing budgets of its rivals. It has relied on a viral campaign to promote itself, while the three biggest directory enquiry service providers - The Number 118 118, Conduit's 11 88 88 and BT's 118500 - spent £10m between them on advertising during August alone.

A Barnardo's spokesman said even if the service only takes 1 per cent of the market, it will raise £350,000 for it and the British Red Cross.

The charities are promoting the service in their shops and through internal communications.

The Samaritans receives 1p for every call made to One-Tel's 118 111 enquiries service.

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