Wye Valley Promotions Ltd

Publication Date
12 June 2014
Case Reference
Track 2
Adjudicated Party
Wye Valley Promotions Ltd
Service Type
Competition and quizzes
Tribunal's final assessment
Very Serious
Code 12 para 4.8.2b - Formal reprimand and/or warning
Code 12 para 4.8.2d - Fine
Code 12 para 4.8.2i - General refunds
Breaches raised
Code 12 2.3.2 Misleading
Code 12 2.2.5 Rules relating to pricing
Code 12 2.4.1 Privacy
Code 12 2.1.1 Legality

Between 12 November 2012 and 21 March 2014, PhonepayPlus received 36 complaints from consumers in relation to a prize draw service, (the “Service”) operated by the Level 2 provider Wye Valley Promotions Ltd (formerly Macintyre and Dodd Marketing Limited) (the “Level 2 provider”) on the premium rate shortcodes 84228, 88222 and 88810 and various premium rate 09 numbers. The Service operates by sending promotional letters containing an ID number for the Service to consumers. The letters invite consumers to send a keyword to a shortcode (six messages at a cost of £1.50 per message), call a premium rate number (£1.53 per minute from a BT landline (with a minimum five minutes and 35 seconds charge)) or write to the Level 2 provider to ascertain if they have a winning ID number. The Service commenced operation on 11 June 2003 and continues to operate.

Generally, complainants stated that they had received unsolicited charges. Those who acknowledged interacting with the Service stated that it was misleading and/or the cost was not clear. In addition, a significant number of complaints were made on behalf of older people or otherwise vulnerable consumers.

The Executive raised the following potential breaches of the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (12th edition) (the “Code”):

  • Rule 2.3.2 – Misleading
  • Rule 2.2.5 – Pricing prominence
  • Rule 2.4.1 – Privacy
  • Rule 2.1.1 – Legality

The Tribunal upheld all of the breaches of the Code raised. 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 £120,000 and a requirement that the Level 2 provider must refund all complainants 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.