PhonepayPlus issues Help Note on Virtual Chat

10 December 2009

PhonepayPlus today published a further guidance on virtual chat services in the form of a new Help Note. The Help Note is designed to provide Service Providers and Information Providers with a greater degree of clarity with regard to the interpretation of the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (11th Edition, amended 28 April 2008). It gives specific information on: wording and promotion; cost reminders; and the use of mobile long numbers.

The key areas PhonepayPlus has highlighted are:

  • Promotional material should not use misleading terms such as ‘Meet’ and ‘Date’ when the service provides fantasy chat. Service/Information Providers should ensure that their chat operators are NOT indicating to users that there is a chance of meeting when this is not the case.
  • If the service sends multiple MT text messages per MO text message, then it should be made clear in promotional material that this will be the consumer experience. Promotions should also include the likely costs consumers can expect to incur by opting-in to the service.
  • It is essential that Service/Information Providers do not continue to send text messages to consumers after the £10 spend limit has been reached until a positive response has been received from the consumer.
  • Any MT message sent after a cost reminder has been provided to a consumer, without having first received a positive response, is likely to amount to a breach of the Code.
  • Where cross promotions are displayed in cost reminder messages these should be presented after the necessary cost information and PhonepayPlus strongly suggests that the word ADVERT or PROMO is used to distinguish this from the Virtual Chat service information.
  • All chat operators should be given training on the Code and appropriate levels of moderation should be put in place by the Service/Information Provider.
  • A PhonepayPlus Tribunal has ruled that text-based Virtual Chat services, which are advertised using a mobile long number will be in breach of the Code. Therefore, such promotional MT text messages should always originate from a mobile short code.

Click here to read the Help Note.

Click here to view the Code of Practice.