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'Crazy Frog' firm fined £40k

Punters misled

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One of the firms behind the "Crazy Frog" ringtone service has been fined £40,000 because for misleading punters about the real cost of the service.

Service provider mBlox was also ordered to refund all 338 people who complained to premium rate services (PRS) regulator ICSTIS. They had thought that when they bought the ringtone it was a one-off payment for a single download and were unaware that they were, in fact, signing up to an expensive premium rate subscription service.

Both mBlox and Crazy Frog's content provider Jamba! attended a hearing but under ICSTIS' rules, the regulator only has jurisdiction over service providers and not content providers.

In the end the panel overseeing the hearing found that the promotions required "a lot of interpretation, application and patience from consumers" to figure out what they were signing up to.

"A great deal of thought had gone into producing the advertisements but, in contrast, little time appeared to have been spent on the terms and conditions," said the regulator in a statement.

ICSTIS Director George Kidd said: "The Hearing Panel has made clear that consumers should not be made to work to find out what any premium rate service involves or costs.

"Although the Panel found that there was no fraudulent or malicious intent behind the service, the companies concerned showed a careless disregard and unprofessional attitude to consumers in failing to be clear on the exact nature of the service."

In a statement mBlox has said it "fully accepts ICSTIS' adjudication on the appropriateness of the Crazy Frog promotion" but believes the rules that govern the premium rate industry should change and is considering requesting a judicial review of the interpretation of the ICSTIS code "that has held mBlox responsible for the action of a third party such as Jamba!". ®

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