Between 24 August 2015 and 9 March 2016, the Executive received 27 complaints concerning an adult content subscription service, charged at £4.50 per month, operating on shared shortcode 89945, under the brand name “Hot Selfie Babes” (the “Service”).
The Level 2 provider for the Service was Golden Brand Inc (the “Level 2 provider”). The Level 1 provider for shortcode 89945 was Veoo Ltd.
Complainants variously alleged that the Service charges were unsolicited.
The Executive raised the following potential breaches of the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (the "Code"):
• Rule 2.3.3 – Consent to charge
• Paragraph 4.2.4 – Provision of false information to PhonepayPlus
• Paragraph 3.12.5 – Subscription spend reminders
• Paragraph 3.4.1 – Failure of a provider to register with PhonepayPlus
The Tribunal upheld the four breaches of the Code raised. The Level 2 provider’s revenue in relation to the Service was in Band 4 (£100,000 to £249,999). The Tribunal considered the case to be very serious and imposed a formal reprimand, a fine of £50,000, and a requirement that the Level 2 provider make refunds, within three months, to all consumers who have used the Service for the full amount spent, regardless of whether or not they have claimed a refund. Refunds should be directly credited to the users’ mobile accounts and the Level 2 provider must provide evidence to PhonepayPlus that the refunds have been made.
Administrative charge recommendation: 100%