back to article Mobile directory blames press for latest failure

The operator of a new directory of private mobile phone numbers has blamed the press for its rushed launch and subsequent technical problems, which have seen the service shut down indefinitely. Connectivity, which runs the 118800 telephone service and website, today denied reports it had been forced to suspend it by a deluge …


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  1. Graham Marsden

    Oh dear, how sad...

    ... too bad!

  2. eJ2095

    Double sided sword this

    So you send across you mobile number and details to be removed..(even if they do not have it as nto sure if this can be checked)

    This then gives then another list with confirmed details!!

    Whats to stop them reselling this list back to the market?

  3. Lionel Baden

    its not a bad idea

    but i dont like the idea of being on it especially as i was not aware that my mobile number would be publicly available.

    I would prefer to opt in not opt out !

    they would of pissed off a lot less people if they had had an opt in on all new contracts made.

    oh im also guessing that even if you did call them and they had a old/wrong number you would still get charged.

  4. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    Data Protection Request

    I asked them about a Subject Access Request on the 9th of June - specifically, if I sent one would they provide details of where they got their information on me from. To their credit they responded quickly in the affirmative.

    "Thank you for your email we do appreciate your comments. We certainly can provide the exact data source where yoour number came from. If you refer to our privacy policy page on our website full details of where to write to and the information needed to enable you to find out where we obtained your number are there. Please ignore the £10.00 fee request, this in no longer applicable."

    Subject Access Request duely sent on the 10th June and I will be interested to see what happens next. I suspect most people won't be aware they waived the fee, and they'll have made more money from half the country sending one at £10 a head than they would ever have made from advertising :-)

  5. Mark Boothroyd Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Junk mail tactics?

    Quote: "Connectivity bought mobile marketing lists after legal threats failed to extract customer information from mobile operators 18 months ago."

    Kind of makes them sound like a junk email pedlar, couldn't get the phone numbers through legit channels, so lets buy list of 'other' people instead, ebay anyone.

    Wouldn't mind so much if there was some way to find out where they got your numbers from in the first place, at least then you could chase the source to stop your number from being sold again!

  6. Andy Watt

    HA HA HA

    Excellent. I hope they never get up, the unpricipled bastards.

    Many thanks to Reg for continuing the viral campaign to stamp out the intrusive moneygrabbing gits. A friend of mine pointed out that the entire premise of their "service" (directory enquiries) is something from the last millenium. I think that's a fair point - who needs this, apart from commercial organisations?

    Just like Phorm, I hope these bastards die the death of a thousand (15 million?) cuts as everybody in the UK goes ex-directory. I managed to get my deregistration in before the site crashed... if they ring me trying to connect someone I'll start a class action that'll take their Reading office to the frickin moon.

    Goodbye 188800, you were stillborn and deserved to be so.

  7. Yorkshirepudding


    and so the backlash begins

    /puts on shout by tears for fears!

  8. Anonymous Coward


    "All ex-directory requests made by people in our directory to date are being processed. There will be no need to resend these requests"

    Well - I know I ain't one of those requests. Since I didn't want to waste an SMS opting out I was going to do it through their website but it was down. Perhaps the large number of people opting out shows that its not wanted and a flawed business model.

  9. adnim

    Blamed the press?

    "The operator of a new directory of private mobile phone numbers has blamed the press for its rushed launch and subsequent technical problems."

    Well that's what you get when you allow journalist's to design develop and deploy intrusive database systems. Perhaps they should have employed IT experts instead.

  10. Nigel Wright

    What amazes me... that these companies have the audacity/cheek/gall to believe there won't be a backlash from people having their numbers used like this, having a gross intrusion into their privacy and having to put up with cold calling.

  11. northern monkey

    Could the problem be..

    ...that they now have absolutely no listable numbers whatsoever left in their database because everyone has asked to be made ex-directory?

    Tee hee - serves them right for having such a pants idea in the first place.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Rushed Launch

    "Instead, the spokeswoman said Connectivity was suffering technical problems caused by a rushed launch. She said it had lost two weeks of testing because of pre-launch press reports"

    Well why did they bother telling the Press about their service in the first place. Or did an employee with a conscience leak the details?

    And if they weren't ready, why did they rush launch. All they needed was a simple web page the same as they have now - "Sorry, our service is launching soon." They could even have used the simple page to create their own spin about the new service without giving out any misleading information about who was and who was not included.

    No wonder their business will fail - no business sense whatsoever.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Bernie 2

    From my brief experience using the system

    It wasn't even tested for two weeks. At least not by anyone competent.

    It took me 10 minutes to identify huge flaws, at the very least in the way they query their database, but more than likely in the way the database was constructed to begin with.

    If your entire business relies on a single database, you had better spend longer than a fortnight testing it.

    *smacks forehead*

  15. Lloyd


    So, if it's from marketing lists they'll be supressing against TPS then, just to be sure?

  16. Paul 87

    I wasn't that worried...

    ... after all, all you had to do was tell them to go fuck themselves the first time they tried putting a call through to you. I can actually understand their sentiments that the press has slightly over-reacted

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pathetic company

    Damn nuisance is what I call them. Despite saying they had ex-directoried my number in early June, I got a text a few days ago saying that my number was now ex-directory ... this is despite my demanding in early June, under the data protection legislation, that they delete all record of me; they have no business basis with me on which to even retain financial records.

    So they're liars, liars, pants on fires. Bring 'em down and keep 'em down, I say.

    They've got no consideration for other peoples private information and they refuse point blank to tell me where they bought my details from.

  18. bass daddy


    this is the same problem as phorm

    As a previous post said, if we opted in to these sodding scams....oops schemes, then that would be acceptable - although nobody would do it of course.

    Please, please, please just join Phorm and foxtrot oscar

    Mines the one with the mobile in the pocket that keeps going off coz some twat from 118800 keeps ringing me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. myxiplx
    Thumb Down

    Doesn't solve the problem

    The thing is, closing these guys down, or even causing them problems doesn't solve the problem. In fact, the way they were doing business makes them sound like one of the most reputable companies out there.

    If your mobile number is on their list, then your number is already out there and being offered for sale by data collection agencies.

    The real problem is that anybody can collect your number and sell it on, and you have absolutely zero control over who is or is not allowed to buy and use that to contact you. Do not call lists are absolutely no use unless advertisers choose to abide by the rules, and with no easy way to identify offenders, it's very hard to punish the crooks out there.

    What is really needed is an official do not call list, and for the phone companies to create a quick and easy way to log offending calls.

    If I'm ex-directory and on the 'do not call' list, it should be a few seconds work from my mobile phone to report the last call as an illegal unsolicited call. The phone companies have all the information on where the call comes from, so should be in a position to immediately inform the relevant authorities. Any volume of complaints against any one company should result in a freezing of their account while the matter is looked into, with large fines if necessary.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    SMS Marketing

    eJ2095 has the right idea. This looks to me very much like they are farming mobile numbers with a dodgy opt-out service.

    I used to work in the murky world of SMS marketing, you'd be surprised (or perhaps not) at the methods used to generate mobile number lists (up to and including sending an SMS to every number in a range 07XYZ000000 to 07XYZ999999).

    If you really want your number removed from marketing lists, go to the telephone preference service:

    AC for obvious reasons.

  21. LRob

    Massive Over Reaction?

    Not sure why everyone is so against this. You need to actually identify the person with some information about them, it took me quite a bit of knowledge of myself to find my number, the kind of knowledge that only someone who knows me would know.

    The company then call the user and ask if they want to be connected to the person that requested the call.

    Doesn't sound too much of an intrusion at all really does it?

    Imagine all those forgotten conquests who want to get back in touch? I'm sure all of your phones will be literally burning........

  22. David Hicks

    Glad they're failing

    But it was inevitable.

    When you get email telling you about the invasion of privacy this represents from your non-techy friends, you know it's going to get bitchslapped one way or another.

    A bit like vista, which I don't like as a developer but didn't think represented such a travesty for the user. It hit home how much people outside tech/FOSS circles hated it when I heard my dad saying he refused to use his new laptop because of it.

    You never can tell what'll atttract the ire of the masses, but woe betide the company that manages it.

  23. Ian Halstead

    Another example of 'Customer Care'

    As in "You're our customer but we just don't care."

    They might as well save time and tell us to "Rearrange the folllowing words to make a well-known sentence: don't shit we a give"

    Banks closing branches.

    Banks foisting insecure underdeveloped chip and pin on us.

    Genuine, human driven contact details missing from major corporate websites.

    People who don't know what they are doing when you do make contact.

    Inflexible systems that can't cope with something not on a prescribed list

    Inaccurate commercial postcode databases that send deliveries to someone else's house

    etc, etc.

    Where's that grumpy old man icon then? Like I said, Ballmer will do.

  24. playtime

    Where you register a mobile as ex-directory is missing from the article!

    I'm registered for post and land line but I don't recall doing the mobile.

    Anyone help?

    There is no question icon either :(

  25. Wokstation

    "We will not be taking ex-directory requests by phone or text whilst the service is not operational"

    If I send them a DPA compliance notice, surely they have to abide by it? I don't care if they're not taking ex-directory requests, because I thought they HAD to by law? (Ok, you can still do it by post, reading between the lines, but still... the statement seems designed to try to stop people from requesting their details be removed from the database).

  26. John HInchliffe

    Learn to read!

    Playing devil's advocate, all the mobile numbers on their database are likely to have come from legit sources. People therefore either need to learn to check T&Cs/privacy policies properly before providing their details to third parties or stop being shocked when they appear on databases such as this!

    Whilst I was a bit irritated that my number ended up on their database, it was a trivial matter to either have it removed or flagged as ex-directory. I chose the latter so that it wouldn't get re-added as part of a future refresh. It's not as though they were every going to give out the actual number anyway.

  27. Platelet

    Better safe than sorry

    Personally I think everyone needs to resubmit their requests for removal as soon as they're back up - just in case :D

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Michelle Knight

    >> Damn nuisance is what I call them. Despite saying they had ex-directoried my number in early June, I got a text a few days ago saying that my number was now ex-directory ... this is despite my demanding in early June, under the data protection legislation, that they delete all record of me; they have no business basis with me on which to even retain financial records.

    How exactly do you expect them to keep you ex-directory without retaining your details? Sure they could delete all record of you, but that just means that you will be back in the directory a few weeks later when the reload a fresh batch of data from their suppliers.

    You best bet would be to do the subject access request thing (which they have waived the fee for, according to an earlier post), then when you find out where they got the data from ask that person where they got the data from, all the way back and get all of them to delete your from their databases.

    I don't know if this is already the case, but if not, then someone should have thought on when designing the DPA - it should be case that every piece of data is sold with an accompanying trail such that a single request to the end owner would tell you who originally supplied the data, and another request to the original to delete would cascade through to everyone who was sold data.

  29. Anthony 11

    What on earth is everyone's problem

    I understand this isn't a popular view, but here's a thought: maybe they were trying to offer a really useful service. the vast majority were happy to be in the BT phone books until recent years, and this is no more intrusive than that - significantly less so since they weren't giving out the actual numbers anyway. I think an opportunity has been missed here to be honest, when there were much bigger things the obsessive privacy campaigners could have been worrying about (like pretty much anything our government ever does).

  30. Pete 2 Silver badge

    ... and WHEN did they get the phone numbers?

    Over the past 20-odd years I've had maybe half a dozen mobile numbers. Some of which I may, in my innocence, passed on to marketing companies - or had ex-employers do that for me. However, I never get any spam calls on my current number - which I've had for about 4 years, so it appears that this number isn't "out there". Possibly because every time a fill-in form asks for a mobile (or landline, for that matter, number I give them an old one).

    The interesting question is:how many of the 16 million numbers they have bought are still current - and what proportion now either don't exist, or have been recycled to someone else. I can't see any scheme like this working unless it is with the complicity or support of the phone operators. They are the only ones who know which numbers are currently under contract (or actively being PAYG'd) and to whom the contract belongs. Until they turn evil and decide to make a little extra money - on top of the huge amounts they already take from their customers - any operation that relies on out-of-date and unvalidated data is doomed, for which I am eternally grateful.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think most people didn't understand the sevice that was on offer...

    They didn't gfive out people's numbers. If you wanted to contact someone, they would eitrher connect you through directly as a voicecall, neither party seein gthe other's mobile number, or they would send the person you;re trying to contact a text with your number in saying you;re trying to get hold of them.

    In addition to this, to contact someoen through this service, you also needed to know their full name, home town, and pretty much the name of their road, anyway!

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Connectivity Marketing on TV ... apparently

    If I heard correctly, then the marketing representative from Connectivity will be appearing tomorrow (Tuesday 14th July 2009) on the BBC's Working Lunch programme. It should be on BBC2 at 12:30.

    My guesses are:

    She won't be asked about the legal threats to the networks.

    She won't be asked where they sourced the numbers.

    She won't be asked exactly how they intended to make this into a real business.

    If anyone from the BBC is researching this, it would be worth having a look at the following "Hmmmmm Broken Business Model" analysis by Camilla Smythe:

    Of course, that assumes that the BBC wants to investigate this instead of just hiding the facts and helping to advertise their guests product, as they usually appear to do.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Should have listened to their own market research

    I did some market research around this very service 2 years ago. There was a group of around 20 of us who were invited (and paid) to discuss the approach, and we were one of a number of groups.

    Every person in the room said it was fundamentally flawed.

    Every person said they had security and privacy concerns.

    And, most tellingly, every person said they wanted to be ex-directory.

    Every person that they paid for an opinion from said, "we will not use the service".

    But yet they launch, the press has a field day over privacy concerns, and they implode. I would imagine that there's people looking at revised projected usage volumes who are a little bit nervous.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    So if I pop over to the continent and some UK based marketing droid calls me up on my mobile I have to foot the roaming half of the bill right? That alone makes me glad the operators failed to capitulate.

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. pctechxp

    Who thought of this crap service anyway?

    I sent an opt out request as it generated a hit when I typed in my details, I'm still waiting for them to confirm the opt out.

    Phone numbers that I pay to maintain are mine so I should decide who has them.

    It does nothing to instill confidence when you read that such an entity threatened legal action against mobile operators to force them to hand over data.

    Any links to Scott 'Spam King' Richter?

    Good riddence is what I say.

  37. lukewarmdog


    So if I add their number to the TPS list, they cannot call me?

    Seems to me this service should be available for email :

    "Dear sir, we have a large number of spam emailers who would like to send you drivel, can we connect them?"

    I never answer unknown numbers, this is like some kind of broken secretarial service :

    "There's someone you don't know on the other line, probably want to sell you double glazing, I'll put them through"

    Any business that wants to store my details should ask me to opt-in, collating lists for resale should be made illegal. If you take this to its logical conclusion there'd be lists stopping union workers getting jobs on the docks. Oh wait..

  38. frank ly

    Ahhhh, testing

    "...She said it had lost two weeks of testing because of pre-launch press reports."

    So, the testing was done by the PR department, who were too busy dealing with pre-launch press reports?

    Well, why not? We all know how easy it is to do thorough testing.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @LRob - Why I'm against this.

    I'm against this because I don't want to be over run with disturbances that are nothing to do with me. I used to get unsolicited text messages to my mobile phone in the late 90's before I shouted so long and hard at Vodaphone that they eventually shit a brick and managed to bar any unsolicited texts from getting to me. Some of those messages were from Vodaphone themselves advertising their own services. ... If I'm looking for a service, I'll do my research and ask for it.

    I could be anywhere, at any time, and a bleedin' text message would come in, disturbing my life and wasting my time.

    Services like 118800 only allow this to be perpetuated. Anyone who wants to get in contact with me who hasn't already got my details ... read my lips ... "Do not call." I mean, my e-mail address is public knowledge; if something is so urgent that you've absolutely, positively got to ring my mobile when I'm on the can or in a business meeting, then excuse me but I'll tell you exactly where to go.

    My mobile is on 24/7 in order to catch urgent calls, like my Mother being taken to hospital, a good friend who has suffered a disaster and needs help. It is not on for some twat to sell me double glazing, pe**s enlargement, accountancy software or to offer me a recession busting job stuffing envelopes.

    And lets face it ... I can think of no other reason that this service might exist or of anyone who would genuinely want to use it to get hold of me. If they are the kind of people or situation whereby I believe they might need to get hold of me in a hurry, then I'd have already given them one of my business cards.

    I can think of NO genuine customer that would use 118800 to get hold of me, and I can think of no other person that I would use 118800 to get hold of.

    Well, perhaps Jeremy Clarkson, but that would just be for an abusive phone call; which is exactly what I want to stop happening to me.

  40. Anonymous Coward


    I don't think I'd object if I was still living in the UK.

    Telephone preference service is enough to keep out the bulk of the marketeers (excluding foreigners).

    If you want an ex-directory land line number you have to pay for it, I don't see any sane reasons why mobile phones should be different.

    Seems like a perfectly reasonable attempt to exploit a niche in the directory services market, nothing sinister or untoward.

    It certainly isn't comparable to intercepting the entire contents of your web browsing in order to serve targeted advertising.

  41. Rob Elliott 1

    I don't understand the fuss...

    From what I have read, all 118800 do is call you, ask for authorisation to connect the call, then connect the call.

    They don't give out your mobile number, and the person trying to get in touch with you has to already know your name and where you live.

    Its not like they are monitoring your phone usage then feeding advertisers that information so they can serve you more relevant ads.

  42. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Um, they were actually rather correct in their responses

    I know it's probably not the right place for some sanity, but they struck me as pretty decent in their responses. Immediate response, proper answers.

    They did NOT strike as a two bucket outfit ready to scam the planet if it let them, I've dealt with those too (yeeaach :-).

    The idea is in principle not *that* bad but their timing was off - thanks to the current government approach to privacy ("you have none, get over it") everyone has become hyper sensitive, willing to assume the worst. IMHO that is the prime cause why they bombed - distrust.

    /me donning flameproof vest :-)

  43. g e


    This prompted me to add my mobile no (and the wife's) to the Telephone Preference Service.

    Useful link:

    Sign up to the MPS while you're there, too, to stop/vastly reduce junk mail.

  44. Pete 2 Silver badge

    @I don't understand the fuss

    > all 118800 do is call you, ask for authorisation to connect the call, then connect the call.

    That's exactly what the "fuss2 is about.

    Face it. Every time your phone rings, you stop whatever you are doing and answer it. Then you have to pick up where-ever you left off. It's an interruption and an intrusion and takes up your time. EVERY CALL.

    Now, we forgive those interruptions from people we know, on a quid-pro-quo basis, that they forgive the intrusion when we call them. It's symmetric, until you get the ex-partner from hell who won't stop call you: we call that stalking and universally acknowledge it to be anti-social (if not plain psychopathic). Likewise interruptions from call-centres are just as antisocial, for exactly the same reasons.

    However, when people we don't know, or who call us for their own advantage, make us stop in the middle of something and take up our time (whether it's to sell us a loan, or merely to ask if we want to accept a call from another person we neither know nor expect any benefit from talking to) that is an intrusion that people dislike. Once is merely an inconvenience, but multiple times in a day or a week is something worth pushing back against. Anything I can do to stop people I don't know from calling me makes my life better.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Orange customers

    Just want to point this out to anyone else who is an Orange customer:-


    8.1 We will enter your Orange number in Orange and >>>>>>third party directories<<<<<< , and our Network will allow the display of your Orange number on receiving Devices. If you prefer not to allow either of these options, please let us know in writing. Your mobile phone number and the approximate location of your Device will always be sent if calling the emergency services.

    I will be cutting my sim card up and returning it to the c***s if I am not removed, it's only Orange that know my home address AND my mobile phone number. So I know it's Orange that has given it to them.

  46. blackworx

    No Title

    Funny how ever since I sent these people a text to go "ex-directory" I've started receiving spam texts every day.

  47. Anji

    Can't you see the risk

    From even being ex-directory?

    Michael Caine "not many people know that" mode;

    Being ex-directory can give away valuable information to data-diggers;

    With BT, if you don't want to be listed you actually have TWO options;

    Ex-Directory or NQR (No Quoted Record).

    With Ex-Drectory, anyone who phones directory enquiries with a name and "guessed" address will be told "That number is ex-directory" - confirming that the address was correct!

    With NQR, an enquirer is told nothing. He is told there is nothing listed for that name and address.

    My BT lines are - you guessed it - all NQR.

    End of Michael Caine mode

    PS, Anonymous Coward; since when has it been necessary to PAY for an unlisted line? You seem unfamilar with telecomms in the UK.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Orange customers

    Well that could explain why I was on the list then. I was wondering.

    BT and now Connectivity have both been caught out around ethically dodgy ways of working ( secret trials, buying up email lists after legal threats didn't work), and yet both of the organisations have categorically denied that consumer backlash against their services was to blame for the situation they are in now.

    If they did just admit that they got it wrong, (and obviously stopped doing it) , they would go a long way towards rehabilitating their reputations. As it stands they are as bad as many politicians and local councils who just don't know how to apologise and who see us just as gullible profit centres or issues to get around.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Good riddance!


    Appalled I have to opt out of this shoddy service.

  50. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    These guys are not the problem.

    The problem is that someone, somewhere has ignored my request to not pass on my details. Yes, you can opt out of this, but someone is still selling my data. Opt in, opt out, register with TPS, it really doesn't matter - I just want to find out who their supplier was.

  51. David 45

    Keep your privacy

    Surely if you buy a PAYG phone, you're not on record, anyway, unless you rashly "register" yourself with your network provider, as I was requested to do by Vodaphone when I kept receiving gibberish texts, which eventually stopped, anyway. When I tried to report it to them on their website, they wouldn't do anything unless I divulged my details and "registered". No thanks. The only down-side I can find is that with no "registration", there is no guarantee that you will keep the number that was issued with the phone, but I've never heard of anyone losing their number.

  52. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    How much VC went down the pan on this?

    Just curious.

    Was it the same outfit that backed Phorm?

    I think their *is* a market for this. But it's *not* the same old DE service.

    Its the fact the mobile is *always* with most people.

    A small difference, but a hugely important one. Not fully understood by these bozos.

  53. VirgilioAnderson

    118 800's Day Off

    I don't want my mobile number given out, as people are always trying to find out who I am!

    Virgilio Anderson

  54. HansG

    boo fucking who

    I don't get you lot, if there is an article about Google getting bashed about their Street View service, most commentards normally stick up for the right to take photos in public etc etc.

    But this issue, has got everyone riled up. I feel sorry for the company, the press basically distroyed them with completely false information, suggesting mobile numbers could just be looked up on their site, which is not the case at all.

    This is only the same as BT's directory, you have to request to be made ex-directory on that, so why is the same service for mobiles a big issue.

    If you don't want your number on their, then that's fine, but leave the service alone, it is going to be a serious missed opportunity if it does not recover. You just wait until that time when you really need a mobile number of someone, then you will feel like a tit for wishing the company under.

    For these whining about being disturbed by their mobile, errrrr, what???? Put it on silent, turn it off, ignore the call. I don't see the issue with being phoned up at an inconvenient moment.

  55. lukewarmdog
    Paris Hilton


    "most commentards normally stick up for the right to take photos"

    - I don't. Street View is invasive and should be on an opt-in basis

    "This is only the same as BT"

    - Yeah I'm not with BT and phonebooks should be opt-in

    "You just wait until that time when you really need a mobile number of someone"

    - No, YOU just wait. I can't imagine a time when this would ever happen or that in the reverse scenario I would answer a call from someone who had used this service.

    "I don't see the issue with being phoned up at an inconvenient moment."

    - Really? Total invasion of privacy? Spam phonecalls? You have no idea why the TPS and Ofcom exist? Your answer to THEIR unwanted attention is to turn MY phone off or put it on silent? Why don't I just throw my mobile away in response to this service? Move to somewhere with no coverage? OR of course you can feel your own tit and I'll keep wishing the service under.

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