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Ten firms that flog ringtones and other mobile goodies have been slapped following the introduction of new rules to clean up the industry, reports the BBC

In January the UK's mobile phone industry and its trade association, the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF), introduced new safeguards to protect mobile phone users.

The new rules deal with services - such as the sale of ringtones, pictures, sports alerts and entertainment news - which are paid for by a regular fixed weekly subscription.

The new rules ensure that punters are clearly informed by text message about what they have subscribed to, with whom, and how much it will cost. They will be reminded about the industry's universal STOP command, which enables consumers to unsubscribe immediately from any service.

It's hoped that the new rules will stop people from being ripped off by operators in a sector estimated to be worth £200m in the UK last year.

Two weeks ago, for example, London-based MX Telecom was fined £5,000 following 31 complaints to the premium rate watchdog ICSTIS. The complaints centred on a web site which promised a free ringtone in return for people submitting their mobile phone number.

Punters then received a text message asking them to choose one of three ringtones. However, the text failed to advise them that, as a result of requesting and receiving the free ringtone, they would also be signing up to receive three ringtones a week costing £1.50 each. Once they twigged what was going on, these unwitting subscribers then found it "very difficult" to opt out of the scheme.

Despite denying the charges against them, MX Telecom were fined £5,000 and ordered to offer full refunds to all concerned. ®

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