Call for inputs: let us know your views on subscription services

11 September 2018, Emma Bailey, Senior Policy Executive

Phone-paid subscriptions provide a method for charging an increasing range of content, goods and services to your phone bill.

They currently include anything from music, film, TV and video streaming, gaming platforms and recurring charity donations, to health and fitness advice. Basically any recurring charge you set up on your phone bill can be counted as a subscription service.

There are many available, and phone-paid subscriptions are increasingly being explored as a business model by top brands, including Spotify, Netflix, and Facebook. 

They offer convenient, easy and seamless payment for services that consumers want. 

However, there are some problematic services out there, using subscriptions to bill consumers when haven’t always secured clear consent. While these are a small part of the market, they have been a clear driver of consumer harm in recent times and have generated over 90% of complaints to the PSA in the last year. 

We know from talking to consumers and hearing your views in various forums that subscriptions are an area of concern. Recurring charges billed without obvious consent or with limited friction in the payment process have undermined confidence and trust in phone-paid subscriptions. It is a core role of the PSA to protect consumers from harm, and the current level of harm is something we're looking to address. 

It is also important that regulation provides clarity and flexibility to companies and service providers looking to introduce attractive new subscription services. We don’t want our regulation getting in the way of access to content that consumers want. 

That’s why we’ve issued a call for inputs on subscription services. We feel that the  high levels of public concern and the immense potential within the sector for growth mean the time is right to review and update our regulation. 

Service providers’views on our regulation are important and we welcome these. We also want to hear from consumers – people with direct experience of using phone-paid subscriptions  – to hear what your feelings are. 

Whether you’re a service provider, a telecoms professional, a representative of a company or organisation interested in phone payment, or a consumer with experience of phone-paid services (good or bad), your perspective is vital in shaping effective regulation. 

We’d encourage you to have a look at the call for inputs, and get in touch via the method outlined in the document.