Wednesday, April 1

Save yourself time and money . . . here's the Time number Telstra doesn't tell you

My twice-a-year ritual. Wake on Sunday morning. Pick up wristwatch, reset time with second hand poised at 12 o'clock position. Ring Telstra's Time number. Listen until the voice says, “At the third stroke it will be precisely four-fortythree [or whatever].” Right on the third beep, push the watch's knob back in.

Then go around and reset all the other clocks. For me it's about a dozen – wall clocks, bedside radios, microwave oven, conventional oven, workshop, car, office, and a few others I'll remember later. Perhaps I have a time fetish.

Just make sure of the number you should ring – 1194.

We old timers usually remember 1194. When we can't, we worry about old-timer's disease. But perhaps some of you youngfellas don't know of it, because it's been years since I've been able to find it in a Telstra phone book.

The old Time number disappeared from Telstra directories about when they began to list many “Premium” services – almost all of them directing you to independent service providers which charged like wounded bulls.

Perhaps even Telstra became ashamed as it tried to increase revenue by steering its customers to rip-off merchants, because it now lists fewer “premium” services and some of the prices seem less outrageous.

The only Time number I can find in my phone book is under 190 premium services. It's 1900 911 481, charged at a flat 77c. Call it, and you hear an introduction explaining the charge before inviting you to press a number to proceed. Then it asks you to press a button for your region. For research purposes, I did so.

What's this! Surely this is the voice you hear when dial 1194?

So, it seems that if you call the premium number, you pay 77c to press a few buttons which switch you to a number you could have dialled yourself for the cost of a local call. *

Maybe this advice will be useful to some of our readers. In south-east Australia, daylight saving ends next Sunday, April 5, at 3am summer time. Clocks should be put back one hour. [1] , [2]

* NOTES: I seem to remember 1194 was charged as a local call, but since it's now not in the phone book, I haven't been able to check today. The only time the premium service would be useful would be to get exact time in another Australian state, and how often would that be? Also, don't forget you should have accurate time displayed at the bottom of your computer screen.


The idea for this post first came when this popped up in my inbox:

For anyone contemplating using the Sensis directory service number, 1234, DON'T!
Sensis, as you may or may not know, is a subsidiary of Telstra. The 1234 number is replacing the Telstra 12456 directory assistance number, but this time with outrageous costs attached:
40c to call the number, then
By law, Telstra have to provide a FREE directory assistance number, because they are still majority owned by the government. They choose however not to pass this number on to
the public.
What's the free number? 1223

There's one problem. These claims are not all true. Perhaps they were once (the email may have been circulating since before the Australian Government sold its majority stake in 2007).

On the inside front cover of my phone book, Telstra clearly lists the three types of directory assistance service, the different phone numbers, and explains what they deliver and what they cost.

As it says, “It's your call.”


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