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Wednesday, 20 August 1980
Page: 569


Dr Everingham asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice, on 1 May 1980:

(1)   Has his attention been drawn to comments in the Auditor-General's report presented to the House on 29 April 1980 to the effect that (a) there was insufficient monitoring by the Australian Telecommunications Commission (Telecom) of metered calls to assess reliably the degree of faulty metering, (b) faulty keying of photographed meter readings could cause charging errors and (c) charges are queried for 8 in every 1000 accounts in capital cities.

(2)   Will Telecom advertise, with equal prominence as subscriber trunk dialling (STD) advertising, the availability of (a) STD barring and (b) rented independent metering equipment, to help avoid STD overcharges.

(3)   Have the great majority of queried charges been in regard to metered calls where STD is available, and are these disproportionate to the percentage of complaints relating to non-STD facilities.


Mr Staley - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   Telecom advises that the number of queries received about metered call charges is low compared with the number of accounts issued. In the vast majority of cases, investigations indicate that the service has been used to the extent indicated by the account and in most cases the subscribers accept the investigation findings and acknowledge the accuracy of the charges made. The availability of private meters (Telemeters) and trunk access barring (and the disadvantages associated with the latter) is made known to subscribers seriously concerned about the level of charges being incurred on their services. However, even though these facilities are made available at less than cost, experience has shown that relatively few subscribers are willing to pay the extra charges to have them. In the circumstances, Telecom considers that to advertise the availability of Telemeters and STD barring to the same extent as cheap off-peak STD calls is unwarranted and would be wasteful of resources.

(3)   More than 97 per cent of telephone services now have access to the STD system and about 90 per cent of all national trunk calls and 25 per cent of international calls are subscriber dialled. Consequently, as is to be expected, the great majority of account queries relate to charges for metered calls.







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