MOBILE phone users will soon have a fairer deal, after the Australian Communications and Media Authority committed to ending the high cost of calls to 1800 and 13 numbers from mobiles.
Peak communications consumer advocacy body, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), was celebrating the announcement which was largely the result of its ‘Fair Calls for All’ campaign, supported by CPSA.
The media authority plans to alter the telephone Numbering Plan so that calls from mobiles to freecall 1800 numbers are actually free of charge for the caller and calls to local rate 13/1300 numbers only cost the amount a consumer would pay if they were making that call from a landline.
Currently mobile phone users pay up to $1.78 per minute for these calls, according to ACCAN, while businesses and organisations at the other end also pay for receiving the calls.
“This is a very significant step forward towards fair calls for mobile users,” said ACCAN Director of Policy Elissa Freeman.
“Calls to 13 and 1800 numbers are often essential, for example contacting your energy provider, the tax office, Centrelink, roadside assistance and crisis lines, to name just a few of the 291,000 FreeCall or Local Rate numbers.
“Fourteen per cent of people don’t have a land line and right now always have to pay high per-minute charges for a ‘free’ call. With people moving away from fixed-line services to rely on mobiles, it makes perfect sense that this regulation keeps up with the way Australians are using their phones in 2011.
The cost of line rental for landline phones is making it increasingly unaffordable and impractical for people to have both a home phone and mobile.
Yet often times, people will need to call essential services but are left to wait on hold for indefinite periods of time. Many VOICE readers will have had experience of a 20 or 30 minute call to Centrelink, where most of the time was spent on hold.
Now imagine paying upwards of a dollar a minute for such a call.
That’s why CPSA joined ACCAN as an official supporter of their Fair Calls for All campaign.
THE VOICE will report on the proposed timeframe for the changes when more news comes to hand.