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Issue 80 - March 2008 - Page 15

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. Postcard Image Virus Hoax
  2. Pay Up or I'll Kill You Scam Email
  3. Bacteria on Restaurant Lemon Slices Warning
  4. Water Bottle Car Fire Warning
  5. Fake Microsoft Critical Update
  6. Shark's Love for Man Hoax
  7. Cancer Info From Johns Hopkins Hoax Email
  8. Christian the Lion Email
  9. PayPal New Security Message Phishing Scam
  10. K-9 Congressional Medal of Honor Hoax
  11. Cell Phone Gun Warning
  12. 359lb Louisiana Grouper
  13. Ahmad Khaled Abu Rumman Make-A-Wish Foundation Hoax
  14. Barack Obama Endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan Hoax
  15. Telstra Free Directory Assistance Protest Email

Issue 80 Start Menu

Previous Article

Telstra Free Directory Assistance Protest Email

Summary:
Email claims that Australian telecommunications giant, Telstra, is replacing a previously free directory assistance number with a fee-based service and is deliberately hiding an alternative free number from consumers.

Status:
Contains elements of truth but is now outdated and redundant

Example:(Submitted, February 2008)
Subject: FW: Telstra's FREE directory assistance

Tell all your family/ friends/ business acquaintances - in fact tell everybody about this!

For all Australian respondents... Telstra Phone book

Hi everyone,

For anyone contemplating using the Sensis directory service number, 1234, DON'T!

Sensis, as you may or may not know, is a subsidiary of Telstra. The 1234 number is replacing the Telstra 12456 directory assistance number, but this time with outrageous costs attached: 40c to call the number, then 4c A SECOND! From mobiles its $1.40 per call plus 88c to connect.

By law, Telstra have to provide a FREE directory assistance number , because they are still majority owned by the government. They choose however not to pass this number on to the public. What's the free number? 1223

Thumbs down to Telstra for finding a way to 'charge', for a service that is supposed to be provided for free. Of course, feel free to forward this on




Commentary:
Telstra Free Directory Assistance
Telstra offers both free and fee-based directory assistance options
According to this protest email, Australian telecommunications company, Telstra, is replacing a previously free directory assistance telephone number with an expensive, fee-based service. The message also implies that Telstra is deliberately hiding an alternative free directory assistance number from the public in the hope that more consumers will use the fee-based service.

This message was basically factual and relevant several years ago when it first began circulating. Telstra introduced the new fee-based service in 2004. Complaints and protests from consumer groups soon followed. Many consumers complained to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman claiming that they did not realize they were calling a fee-based service when seeking directory assistance. Telstra was also accused of strongly promoting its fee-based Sensis service while remaining relatively silent about the free directory assistance number.

Such complaints were probably well justified at the time and this protest email may have helped to alleviate confusion about the changes and raise awareness of the free directory assistance number. However, several years on, its continued forwarding seems rather pointless. Rightly or wrongly the Sensis system is now well and truly entrenched and seemingly here to stay.

Moreover, I can see no evidence that Telstra is deliberately attempting to hide the free directory assistance number from consumers. The different directory assistance numbers, both free and fee-based are all clearly listed in telephone directories and on various Telstra and Sensis web pages.

At the time of writing there were three levels of directory assistance offered by Telstra. Notably, the free assistance number is labeled simply as "Directory Assistance" or "Telstra Directory Assistance" while the fee based services are labeled as "Call Connect" and "1234":
  1. Telstra Directory Assistance (1223)
    This is an automated service that provides callers with a telephone number when they already know the name of the person or business that they are seeking. It is a free call for Telstra fixed line phones and Telstra payphones. Charges apply for mobile or business customers (See website or phone book for details).

  2. Call Connect (12456)
    This is an operator assisted service that connects callers to directory listings and can provide other information about the person or business that the caller is seeking. Call Connect charges an initial fee for connecting to the operator and a further fee for connecting to the requested number as well as standard rates for the connected call (See website or phone book for details).

  3. 1234
    1234 is a personally assisted search service that offers a range of information and options. 1234 charges an initial fee for connecting to the operator and a further fee for connecting to the requested number as well as standard rates for the connected call (See website or phone book for details). 1234 is more expensive than Call Connect but offers more options.
Telstra customers who wish to use the free automated directory assistance service should have no trouble locating the correct number using widely available Telstra resources. Both free and fee-based directory assistance numbers are clearly listed. Thus, this protest email is now rather redundant and seriously outdated.

References:
Need a number? Call 1223 - it's cheaper
Telstra admits confusion over directory inquiries
Choose the voice service that's right for you
Sensis: Voice Services

Previous Article

Issue 80 Start Menu

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. Postcard Image Virus Hoax
  2. Pay Up or I'll Kill You Scam Email
  3. Bacteria on Restaurant Lemon Slices Warning
  4. Water Bottle Car Fire Warning
  5. Fake Microsoft Critical Update
  6. Shark's Love for Man Hoax
  7. Cancer Info From Johns Hopkins Hoax Email
  8. Christian the Lion Email
  9. PayPal New Security Message Phishing Scam
  10. K-9 Congressional Medal of Honor Hoax
  11. Cell Phone Gun Warning
  12. 359lb Louisiana Grouper
  13. Ahmad Khaled Abu Rumman Make-A-Wish Foundation Hoax
  14. Barack Obama Endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan Hoax
  15. Telstra Free Directory Assistance Protest Email