Between 30 April 2013 and 8 November 2013, PhonepayPlus received 39 complaints from consumers in relation to a pay-per-stream glamour video download service, which operated under the brand name “PLocker” (the “Service”). The Service was operated by the Level 2 provider Frontier Limited on various long numbers, (used for promotion and opt-in) and the premium rate shortcode 89987. Consumers were charged £3.00 per download. The Level 1 provider was IMImobile Europe Limited (“IMImobile”). In addition, there was another unidentified Level 1 provider who solely provided the long numbers. The Service operated between July 2009 and 1 November 2013, when it was voluntarily suspended by the Level 1 provider, IMImobile Europe Limited.
Consumers engaged with the Service by sending a mobile originating (“MO”) message to a Service long number or via “click to text” within a Wireless Application Protocol (“WAP”) session.
The majority of complainants stated that they had not engaged with the Service but had been charged. Certain complainants acknowledged that they had received SMS messages from the Service but stated that they were unsolicited.
The Executive raised the following potential breaches of the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (12th Edition) (the "Code").
- Rule 2.3.3 – Consent to charge
- Paragraph 3.4.6 – Registration of an organisation
The Tribunal upheld both of the breaches of the Code. The Level 2 provider’s revenue in relation to the Service was within the range of Band 1 (£500,000+). The Tribunal considered the case to be very serious and issued a formal reprimand, a fine of £250,000, a requirement that access is barred to all the Level 2 provider’s premium rate services for 12 months or until compliance advice has been sought and implemented to the satisfaction of PhonepayPlus, whichever is later, and a requirement that the Level 2 provider must refund all consumers who claim a refund, for the full amount spent by them on the Service, within 28 days of their claim, save where there is good cause to believe that such claims are not valid, and provide evidence to PhonepayPlus that such refunds have been made.