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Vodafone mobile customers are still paying for 1800 calls, says ACCAN

The communications consumer advocacy group names Vodafone and a number of MVNOs as providers who have failed to comply with the January 1 deadline for free 1800 calls from mobiles.

In July last year the Australian Communications and Media Authority announced a new framework for how 1800 and 13/1300 calls would be charged when made from mobile phones.

Mobile telecommunications providers had previously come under fire for charging for 1800 calls which were free from landlines. A 'Fair Calls for All' campaign from the Australia Communications Consumer Action Network had highlighted that many essential services and businesses agencies used 1800 numbers and that by charging for those calls telcos were unfairly disadvantaging mobile users. However, several service providers have missed the January deadline to implement the free calls.

ACMA had developed the framework in consultation with telecommunications providers, noting at the time that individual telcos had "made separate plans to make all calls to 1800 numbers from mobile phones free of charge." ACCAN welcomed the changes, saying in a media release that it would "ask that industry honour its own commitment to a January 2015 deadline."

A month and a half past deadline, ACCAN has now 'named and shamed' a number of telcos that have not changed their charging structure in regard to 1800 numbers, including Vodafone.

The list also includes a number of MVNOs: TPG, Dodo, Vaya, Yatango, Cmobile, Live Connected, Bendigo Bank Telco, Hello Mobile, GoTalk, Lebara Mobile and AldiMobile. ACCAN had also initially named Jeenee Mobile, but later corrected its statement.

"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."

An ACMA spokesperson said that: "the ACMA is continuing to work with industry to facilitate the provision of free of charge mobile calls to 1800 numbers".

Vodafone has responded to the ACCAN release by stating that 1800 calls are available within the "included credit component" for pre-paid plans. However, the original ACMA advisory statement called for 1800 numbers to be "free for pre-paid mobile customers (even when they run out of credit but only until their service expires)".

Updated at 4.17 p.m. AEDT: Added comment from Vodafone.