Competition services – know what you are paying for
16 March 2015, Michael Pemberton, Head of Consumer Services
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.
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.
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.