Feeds

Premium rate rants plummet again

I just called to say I hate you rather less

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The number of complaints to premium rate phone regulator PhonepayPlus (PPP) dropped by 52 per cent in the last year, it has said. PPP said it received 11,249 complaints in 2009/10, down from 23,244 the previous year.

PPP, which regulates the premium rate services industry under powers granted by telecoms watchdog Ofcom, has published its annual report and has reported that while complaints about landline premium rate services (PRS) have fallen only slightly, complaints about mobile services have plummeted.

PPP chairman Sir Alistair Graham said that the regulator and the companies involved in PRS should share credit for the drop in customer complaints.

"PRS providers have clearly invested in compliance and heeded the lessons of yesteryear," he said. "New rules we put in place in early 2009 are clearly bearing fruit. These followed a strategic review of the mobile market which set out a proactive and multi-faceted approach to dealing with several significant issues facing consumers."

"The Code Compliance Panel (CCP) has adopted a zero tolerance approach to non-compliance, imposing stiff sanctions on providers and their services when found in breach of the Code. The CCP levied £5.3 million in fines last year – double the amount of the previous year which itself represented a record sum," said Graham.

The overall market in premium rate services declined by 11% because of the recession, said PPP.

PPP chief executive Paul Whiteing said that the regulator has tried to identify problems with some operators before they happen and to educate users, especially the young, to avoid 'bill shock', when very high bills for PRS use arrive.

But Graham said that the industry still had work to do to clean up its reputation.

"If we’re honest, the PRS market still suffers from reputational damage caused by scams that, over the years, have dented the public’s confidence in using premium rate services," he said. "The more we can work together to build and promote compliance, the more consumers will trust the services they see promoted. The more they trust, the more they will use."

Complaints about PRS services in the UK have been falling since a high in July 2008, when a European Commission study found that 80 per cent of websites selling premium rate mobile services were in breach of consumer protection laws.

In January 2008 PPP introduced a new regulatory regime aimed at informing consumers exactly what charges they were taking on when signing up for PRS. These rules demanded that any consumer joining a subscription service costing more than £4.50 per week receive a free confirmation text message detailing the cost and conditions of the service.

Under the new rules, consumers could not be charged until confirming that they accepted those charges.

See: The PPP annual report (36-page / 2.4MB PDF)

Copyright © 2010, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.