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Free calls for charities no stunt: VHA

Free calls for charities no stunt: VHA

The decision to offer free mobile calls to selected charities pre-dates Vodafone's recent network, customer service and privacy issues, says VHA

Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) has played down the suggestion that its decision to make calls to selected charities free is little more than an effort to put a positive spin on what has been a troubled three months for the merged telco.

In a statement to Computerworld Australia, the company said planning for the initiative — which involves the abolition of call charges to a number of front-line national child safety, emergency services and suicide prevention hotlines — started before the series of negative events for VHA partner, Vodafone.

“We started planning for this initiative in September last year,” a VHA spokesperson said. “A large number of calls made to services like Kids Helpline and Lifeline are made from mobiles.

“We felt it was important to recognise this and support our customers in a time of need and remove the financial barrier. We hope that by making these calls free, we will help customers in a time of need.

“This is a proactive initiative that has been driven by VHA.”

The last few months have been far from easy for the telco with market research firm, Roy Morgan, last month delivering another blow to Vodafone with findings that the telco is now second only to Dodo as worst internet service provider for customer satisfaction.

The Privacy Commissioner report into the alleged privacy breach of some four million Vodafone customers’ billing and call records delivered a mixed result, but did find failings on the telco’s behalf.

In January, Vodafone was struck by a damning report that outlined thousands of complaints ranging from patchy network coverage to poor customer service.

The telco responded that it was working hard to improve its service.

Earlier this year, as many as 9000 customers of VHA signed up to be a part of a class action against the telco, according to the legal firm handling the action, Piper Alderman. The figure is now in excess of 20,000.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @tlohman

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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