Between 18 November 2014 and 26 January 2015, PhonepayPlus received 71 complaints (55 of which were referred to PhonepayPlus by Ofcom) concerning the Loanster Money UK premium rate customer helpline (the “Service”). The Service was operated by Blue Triangle Technology Ltd (the “Level 2 provider”) on the fixed line premium rate number 09131050149 (the “PRN”). The PRN had been allocated to the Level 2 provider by the Network operator Numbers Plus Limited. The Level 2 provider stated that the Service was not actively promoted, but the PRN was provided to consumers via the Loanster Money UK website.
The Level 2 provider stated that it started using the PRN on 1 September 2014 and it had asked for it to be deconfigured on 12 January 2015. The Service had not been registered with PhonepayPlus.
Complainants routinely stated that they received silent and missed calls which appeared to come from the PRN. Complainants were concerned that the reason for these calls was to encourage consumers to call back in order to generate income for the Service.
The Executive raised the following potential breaches of the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (12th Edition) (the “Code"):
• Rule 2.3.2 – Misleading
• Rule 2.3.1 – Fair and equitable treatment
• Paragraph 3.4.12(a) – Registration of a number
The Tribunal upheld all breaches of the Code raised. The Level 2 provider’s revenue in relation to the Service was within the range of Band 7 (£1 - £4,999). The Tribunal considered the case to be very serious and imposed a formal reprimand, a fine of £20,000, a requirement that the Level 2 provider seek compliance advice for the Service and any other services that it operates within two weeks of the date of publication of this decision and thereafter implements that advice within two weeks (subject to any extension of time agreed with PhonepayPlus) to the satisfaction of PhonepayPlus, for a period of 12 months from the date of publication of this decision, and a requirement that the Level 2 provider 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.
Administrative charge recommendation: 100%