The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has welcomed Telstra’s move to make mobile phone calls to 1800 numbers free of charge for its customers.

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The initiative comes three months ahead of the ACMA proposed deadline of 1 January 2015 and was announced in a Telstra blog post.

“We’re very happy to see that Telstra has made mobile phone calls to 1800 numbers free of charge well before the deadline. We urge other telcos to follow suit as soon as possible,” said ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin. “This is a big win for consumers and one that ACCAN, along with our partners ACOSS and FCA, has been working for since 2010.”

The initiative to make calls to 1800 numbers from mobile phones free of charge is important as recent ACCAN research shows that mobile phones are becoming the preferred universal communication service in Australia.

“ACCAN encourages businesses and organisations to switch from using 13/1300 numbers to 1800 numbers so that all consumers can afford to call them,” added Ms. Corbin. “This will also ensure that their services are more readily available to all consumers which makes good business sense.”

Earlier this year, ACCAN stated that it would hold the industry to its commitments regarding 1800 and 13/1300 numbers. The 13/1300 number range was designed to provide low cost and easy to remember numbers for fixed line calls to government and businesses. These numbers have been adopted by many essential services like Centrelink and drug and alcohol services. This has led ACCAN to voice its concerns over the affordability of these calls with ongoing confusion about how they are charged.

“Consumers should be aware of the costs of calling 13/1300 numbers from mobile phones as these calls can quickly chew through pre-paid mobile plans,” said Ms. Corbin.

“Those using pre-paid services, which are often favoured by low income consumers, should contact their providers to find out the cost of calling such numbers as this can vary widely from three cents/minute to up to $1.39/minute.”

Consumers wanting to know more about how to avoid charges from 13/1300 numbers can learn more from ACCAN’s tip sheet.

Photo Credit: Philippe Put (cc)

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