Feeds

Regulator spanks quiz line with record £800k fine

Kept eldsters hanging on the line at premium rates

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

UK premium-line regulator PhonepayPlus has slapped Churchcastle Limited with the largest fine it has dished to date, ruling the phone-quiz host guilty of misleading and bamboozling callers with impenetrable terms and conditions.

After it received 15 complaints, PhonepayPlus found Churchcastle guilty of targeting the elderly, keeping them hanging on the line at up to £1.53 a minute, inducing them to call back without explaining the costs properly, and then providing cheap prizes, all of which mounts up to a £800,000 fine and refunds to anyone who asks for one.

Churchcastle advertised its quiz line in various national papers, requiring players to complete a word search over the phone, but according to the regulator that call was just the hook with which marks were snagged.

Next up was a letter, explaining that a prize was in the offing but offering the chance to win more just by calling in, which is where the really expensive charges came in, after which the customers were sent poor-quality jewellery.

Churchcastle is no stranger to controversy. The company was rebuked in 2006 by the Office of Fair Trading (which regulated this stuff before PhonepayPlus) for mailing people to say they had won a prize. This lured 56,000 victims into calling a premium-rate number in the hope of collecting their winnings - which turned out to be derisory coupon books.

Prizewordsearch.com, the site run by Churchcastle Limited, is still in operation, and the company tells us that it may request a review of the findings as:

"There was not a shred of evidence to undermine our belief that over 99% of callers both fully understood and enjoyed entering the competitions concerned."

The company insists it's always happy to refund anyone who feels otherwise. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.