A free directory enquiries service which plays adverts before giving out numbers was launched today.
Callers must listen to an advert for up to 20 seconds before their requested number is read out.
In return, they pay nothing for calling the service from mobile phones, landlines or cable networks.
Advertisers already signed up with the 0800 100 100 service include Alliance & Leicester, EDF Energy, NatWest, Asda, Pru Health and Eurostar.
It was set up by a firm called Free Directory Enquiries Ltd, which is backed by private investors.
The firm was founded by business partners Isabel Magan-Campbell and Murray McPherson who previously worked together on the launch of 118 800 directory enquiries.
The 0800 100 100 service employs call centre staff at two centres in Northern Ireland.
Mrs Magan-Campbell said extensive customer research had been carried out to assess callers’ reaction to being played adverts.
‘We had an overwhelming response. They felt that 20 seconds was not an intrusion given that they were getting the number for free,’ she said.
Callers to the 0800 100 100 service ask a member of staff for their requested number before being played an automated message which asks them to ‘please listen to this short announcement from our sponsor’.
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