Vodafone, TPG and 10 other mobile telcos are still charging for calls to 1800 numbers despite a telco industry pledge to make these calls free by 1 January.
Calls to 1800 numbers have historically been free on landline phones but many mobile carriers still charge. Last year, the telecom industry promised to make mobile calls to 1800 numbers free of charge from January 2015.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network on Wednesday released a list of the 12 mobile telcos that still charge for 1800 numbers:
- Live Connected
- Bendigo Bank Telco
- Hello Mobile
- Lebara Mobile
“Six weeks past the delivery date the number of telcos that have yet to implement this change is disappointing,” said ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin.
“It’s unfair for some consumers who are still paying for mobile calls to 1800 numbers which are used by essential services like Centrelink, financial counsellors, and drug, alcohol and mental health services. These organisations are keen to let their clients know they can call their 1800 contact numbers for free.
“Recent statistics show that consumers are increasingly reliant on mobile phones for communicating. Many businesses and organisations use 1800 numbers because they are free to call for their customers. Now that mobiles are the dominant form of communication we’re just asking that these free calls be extended to mobile.”
The policy of some mobile telcos to charge for 1800 calls especially hurts low-income consumers, said Fiona Guthrie, executive director of Financial Counselling Australia.Read more: In brief: Not-for-profit group strikes agreement with Optus
“Waiting on the phone to talk to Centrelink for example quickly chews through a person’s credit. It is of huge concern to us if people are unable to contact service providers and miss out on vital information or assistance.”
Vodafone said it offers free 1800 calling on some plans.
"We’re confident that Vodafone offers market-leading plans that meet a broad range of customer needs that offer substantially better value that the big two," a Vodafone spokesperson said. "Vodafone already offers unlimited 1800 calling on its Red plans, and 1800 calls are able to be made as part of included value for other prepaid and postpaid plans."
Yatango will soon make 1800 calls free, a spokesperson said.
"Making 1800 calls free was always on the roadmap for us, and all of our users will soon be able to make unlimited 1800 calls from their mobiles for no extra charge."
Telcos that do not charge for mobile calls to 1800 numbers, according to ACCAN, include:
- Boost Mobile
- Jeenee Mobile
“ACCAN has been working with industry to achieve this outcome since 2010 and we’re urging all mobile telcos to follow the lead by making 1800 number calls free for all Australian mobile consumers in the near future,” said Corbin.
Correction: ACCAN said it was mistaken that Jeenee Mobile charges for calls to 1800 numbers. Jeenee Mobile met the deadline to deliver free calls to 1800 numbers for its mobile customers.