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Unexpected call charges

When one of our members dialled a local number and added the area code prefix, he was charged for a toll call.

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One of our members told us about a flaw in his telco’s system. When he dialled a local number and added the area code prefix, he was charged for a toll call. We checked with the company – one of the bigger telcos – and found it wasn’t the only one doing this.

Some telcos buy their calling service from Telecom and are processed by Telecom’s wholesale system. If a number comes through with an area code prefix – even if it originated from within the same area – it’s automatically billed as a toll call. Your telco then transfers this cost to you.

The Actrix, Orcon, Vodafone, Quicksilver and TelstraClear terms and conditions all mention some variation on "if you dial the area code when making a local call, you will automatically be charged for a toll call".

You should regularly check your bills to make sure you haven't made this mistake. Also check any speed dials you may have entered into your home phone, to make sure they don’t include the area code.

If you’ve mistakenly added an area code and been charged for a local call, contact your telco: it might waive it for a “first offence” as long as the cost of the call’s not too large.

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