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Competition services – know what you are paying for

16 March 2015, Michael Pemberton, Head of Consumer Services
Win an iPad

The first step in entering the competition often involves entering a mobile phone number online. A number of different types of services exist, from questions answered through a website leading to the activation of a weekly subscription, to a number of questions being sent over a set period of time.

Costs
The costs involved in participating in these services vary in terms of how charges are applied and the amount charged. Weekly subscriptions vary and you can be charged for a set number of questions and answers, or for each question.
 
Key information
We often hear from consumers after they have received a higher than normal phone bill or because their pay as you go credit has disappeared. Understanding what you can be charged for and how your phone number can be used to pay for services is important in ensuring you do not inadvertently run up large bills or costs you were not expecting.

We have put together some key things to think about when using services online:

  • Think of your phone as being like a bank card; if you give out your number, you can be charged.
  • Look for the price – promotions need to make it clear the costs involved before you call or text a number.
  • Remember to read the small print before entering a competition or responding to a promotion as you may be subscribing to a chargeable service.
  • Be informed when entering your number online. Make sure you know how your number will be used as you may be consenting to being charged through your phone bill or pre-pay account.
  • Watch what you click on – online promotions for services paid for by phone are everywhere, know what you are agreeing to before you click.
  • Don’t ignore your phone bill or phone credit – check the charges you see on your phone bill. If you see anything unexpected, question it.

What you can do
Understanding what action you can take is important in protecting yourself from unwanted charges. By replying to a message with “STOP” or “STOP ALL” subscription services can be stopped. Don’t reply to the message with anything else and do not delete it. If this does not stop the charges, contact PhonepayPlus.

If you find unwanted or unknown charges for a premium rate service, first contact the company that runs the service. If you have contacted the company and they do not resolve a complaint, PhonepayPlus is here to help. If you are unsure of a number, our free Number Checker provides you with any information PhonepayPlus has about the company running the service. Your phone provider can also tell you who the name of the company that has charged you. Our free helpline is available on 0300 30 300 20 (open 9.30am - 5pm Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays) or you can make a complaint through our online complaint form.

Start the conversation

Comments

  • steven griffiths

    03/11/2016 11:52

    Had a bill for 15 quid higher than usual so looked thru my bill and seen it was 5 received txt messages this is the details Oct 11 Oct 18 Oct 25 Oct page A1 of 1 Tue Tue Tue Tue 15:02 15:09 15:02 15:22 700046068 700046068 700046068 700046068 All of these txt did not even show up on my phone and when I rang customer services they said it from a 3rd party premium company called play bay I have no clue who they are or nothing and have tried to Google the name and can't find nothing about them

  • PhonepayPlus
    07/09/2016 09:13

    Sonia, get in touch with the service provider and ask them to stop the subscription services.

  • Sonia

    06/09/2016 18:34

    Please help I have stupidly been conned to pay 4-50 a week with top prizes weekly. I tried to message stop but this failed. What do I do.?

  • mandy
    02/09/2016 09:16

    who are you, why do you want to charge me £4.50 per week for something I did not subscribe to? 07946633546 and then charge me to cancel it

  • PhonepayPlus

    20/06/2016 12:24

    Chris, I know how that feels. The only way to check for certain if you've been charged is to consult with your network provider for any pending charges. Also if you've received any texts informing you that you've been billed that is a sure sign of having been charged.

  • Chris
    20/06/2016 01:14

    I've been up all night filling in (87) surveys/competion entries on myoffers. I'm now worried sick that I've unknowingly signed up for premium rate weekly charges type things (the £4.95 kind). How will I know if this is the case? Will I have to wait and see if I'm charged? If just half of the 87 charge me £4.95 I'll be bankrupt. I'm so scared Chris

  • PhonepayPlus

    23/03/2016 09:27

    Hi Karen, best would be to use our Number Checker http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/about-us/number-checker to get the details of the service providers and get in touch with them. If after this the issue is still not solved, please get in touch with one of our Customer Services officers http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/for-consumers/contact-us-for-consumers

  • Karen
    22/03/2016 15:05

    I was tricked into a contract which a company took 4.50 a week from my phone account. EE recommended I contact you. I lost 27 pounds. Is it possible to check the companies practice? They said it was a free completion that I stupidly entered I wasn't aware I had entered into paying 4.50 a week for a chance to win a phone. Not happy I have all the details of the company name

  • PhonepayPlus

    10/03/2016 12:47

    Brenda, both shortcodes belong to Fonix, the service provider. Get in touch with them on 0208 114 7001 and ask them to stop the service for you.

  • Brenda Allen
    08/03/2016 22:13

    Hello I've stupidly unknowingly subscribed to pay £4.50 each week to 2 different competitions on my mobile! I'm retired and on a pension. How can I stop this please? I've tried to text 'stop' to both mobile numbers but my texts say 'failed'. I have tried phoning the numbers but they don't appear to work either. Please help! The 2 numbers are: 65001 / 0203 630 0340 and 86668 / 0203 318 1627 Many thanks Brenda and 86668/ 02033181627

  • Sean

    28/07/2015 12:59

    I'm having charges for £4.50 a week not getting a text to say who it is off I tried to sort it out but I need it to stop but no one is texting me telling me that money gone out

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