You’re stuck without a phone number so you dial Telstra’s directory
assistance. But what is the number these days? You could be forgiven
for dialling 1234, but don’t be fooled. This is the number for Telstra
subsidiary Sensis’s premium directory services line, which costs 40
cents a call, plus four cents for every second you talk
to an operator.

What some people may not know is that Telstra and Sensis are also legally obliged to provide a free
directory service, including a listing of every Australian home and business. And sure enough, if you call 1223, you’ll
get your number for free. But since the introduction of the Sensis
line, Telstra has gone very quiet on the free service.

Sensis media manager Karina White says the number is advertised “in the
front pages of the White Pages, which is delivered to every home and
business” in the state. But she says most people are willing to pay for the premium
service, which offers extras like opening hours, directions, and a
range of suggestions. On the other hand, the free number (1223) can only match an exact
name.

She says the 1234 number was launched in June last year, and kept
the same pricing structure of Telstra’s previous premium services,
12451 and 12456, which were heavily advertised.

Legally, Telstra and Sensis are fulfilling their obligations to the
public – just don’t expect to hear too much about the free call to
1223.

Peter Fray

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