The Executive received 3 complaints between 16 September 2017 and June 2018 concerning the Helpline Contact Number call connection service, operating on number ranges 0871 434 XXXX, 0871 872 XXXX, 0870 046 XXXX and 0870 062 XXXX at between 10 pence and 13 pence per minute.
The Level 2 provider for the Service was Halak Online Ltd. The Network operator for the Service was Dynamic Mobile Billing Ltd.
Complainants variously alleged that the Service was misleading and that that they were not made aware of the Service costs.
The Executive raised the following potential breaches of the PSA Code of Practice 14th Edition (“the Code”):
- Rule 2.2.7 – Pricing information
- Rule 3.4.1 – Registration
- Paragraph 3.11.3 – Special conditions ICSS 1
- Paragraph 3.11.3 – Special conditions ICSS 5
- Paragraph 3.11.3 – Special conditions ICSS 11
- Paragraph 3.11.3 – Special conditions ICSS 13
The Tribunal upheld all the breaches of the Code raised. The Level 2 provider’s relevant revenue in relation to the Service was £64,169.
The Tribunal considered the case to be ‘Very Serious' and imposed a formal reprimand, a fine of £200,000, a requirement that the service provider seek compliance advice and implement the compliance advice to the satisfaction of the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) and a requirement that the provider remedy the breach to the satisfaction of PSA.
The Tribunal also imposed a requirement that access to the service be barred until the Level 2 provider obtains compliance advice and remedies the breach to the satisfaction of the PSA.
The Tribunal also imposed 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 the PSA that such refunds have been made.