Telstra and Optus are placing the youth of Australia at risk by closing down all the well established reverse charge call services that have been operating for years in this country.
By the end of 2018 a child who would normally be able to use a reverse charge call service to urgently contact a parent or friend because they have no mobile credit, will not be able to do so, because Telstra and Optus will no longer assist in the billing process. That effectively closes down the Australian reverse charge call industry.
This places the kids of Australia at risk.
Where will these millions of urgent calls go?
Imagine your child in a situation where they cannot make that ‘call of last resort’ for assistance. What are they supposed to do? Walk home? In the dark? By themselves?
As part of Telstra’s recently announced cost-cutting measures (with Optus following right behind them), the two major carriers are going to cease their PSMS billing services to 1800 PhoneHome, 1800 Reverse and 1800 MumDad. Telstra is also closing down their 1800 NoCash service this month.
1800 Reverse (Reverse Corp ASX: REF) has already placed a profit warning on the ASX to shareholders saying that the company has received notice from Optus.
1800 PhoneHome has received notification from its platform manager that Telstra and Optus are going to effectively shut the service down.
1800 MumDad will not be spared either.
This is not a matter where profit or inconvenience should be a consideration. Reverse charge call services are a community service. These services should exist and be readily available to kids to contact family and friends.
Telstra and Optus say that to support billing to mobiles is a costly exercise because of the complaint levels. That may be so! But that’s more likely to be the case with those services that provide astrology readings, sex chats, games, competitions and ringtones. On the other hand, reverse charge call services attract minimal flak as is evidenced by the extremely low complaint level.
With Telstra payphones rapidly declining in numbers…and now the coming demise of reverse charge call services, how will a child have quick and easy access to contact a parent in an urgent situation? So much for the universal obligations that these major telecommunication companies are obliged to implement and maintain.
There are other options to contact family or friends. But they are not quick and easy…nor guaranteed. There are data-driven apps which require both parties to have the app installed. These apps are not the solution because of these two reasons. Perhaps a recently tested startup (1800 FreeCall) which requires no data, credit or wifi to call any number…would fill the gap. Let’s hope a solution is found if Telstra and Optus insist on implementing these cost-cutting plans.
In any event, reverse charge call services are an established and integral community service. Every country has them. Kids know they exist. Parents tell their kids to use them in an urgent situation.
Let’s hope the reverse charge call services get a quick reprieve and are exempted from this unexpected and unfair decision by the two biggest telecommunication giants in Australia.
Common sense must prevail here…for the safety of young Australians.
8 August 2018