Many users of conferencing services are unaware that when they phone a “free call” service from their mobile that their service provider can slug them airtime charges that sometimes are in excess $1 per minute. To make this issue even worse the provider of the 1800 service will also be charging the receiving company, or conference provider, for the pleasure of receiving this call. This is a legacy issue that the dominant carriers have taken advantage of over the years and finally the communications regulator is going to regulate the charging, if any, that can occur here. Telstra and Optus, being the dominant mobile carriers, will be working hard to thwart this initiative as it will will cost them millions in lost revenue. They will argue that much of the usage is already captured in “capped” or “unlimited” plans and there is not much savings that will be achieved by the end user. Beyond this being absolute garbage the issue goes back to the marketing of the number as a “Free Call” service. People don’t expect they will get charged similarly to some 0055 service when they phone a 1800 number. This can be especially hurtful in the conferencing environment where call lengths are more like 40 or 50 minutes instead of the average of 2-3 minutes on a typical person to person mobile call. We can only hope that the regulator has the fortitude to make the right decision here and not bow to the inevitable pressure.
At Chorus Call we have many organisations that we have worked with to minimise these unfair fees from mobile carriers. We have always offered no connection or booking fees so customers with large mobile fleets have used our operators to call out to mobile users so they don’t get any charges. Similarly, we have systems in place where advanced users can operate their own conference and dial out from our infrastructure to the end mobile, thus avoiding these unfair charges. The crux of the solution is that you have to arrange for our services to dial out to your mobile services to avoid the charges. Charges can really add up. Hopefully we will see the end to this cash grab in the near future, and customers can feel confident that the conferencing charge is the only charge they see form their mobile.