PSA issues fines of £250,000, £350,000 and £440,000 in separate cases against company for signing consumers up to subscription services without their consent
5 October 2018
A company which billed consumers for subscriptions to digital content without their consent has been issued with fines of £250,000, £350,000 and £440,000 in three separate cases by the regulator, the Phone-paid Services Authority.
Xplosion ltd., incorporated in the Isle of Man, operated several mobile content services which charged consumers on a weekly basis for entry into competitions, or access to quizzes, games, and video content, via their phone bill.
The PSA Tribunal found that Xplosion had failed to secure consumer consent for billing them. It also found that they had failed to inform consumers about the cost and nature of the service before purchase, that they had failed to treat consumers fairly and equitably by not providing them with access to a real service, and that they had failed to disclose information to the PSA or register services with the regulator as required.
Considering the seriousness of these breaches of the PSA Code of Practice, the Tribunal issued fines of £250,000 against the QuizM8 quiz and competition service, £350,000 against the SexxyMob, Xcite and Xvidland services, which offered adult video content, and £440,000 against the Games Unlimited and MobyApps services, which were gaming portals.
The company has been formally reprimanded and barred from all operation in the phone-paid services market for five years. All consumers eligible for a refund from any of the services listed above can claim one.
In total, the PSA received 252 complaints about the services operated by the company. One consumer, who had been subscribed to the QuizM8 service, told the PSA: “I did not authorise commencement on this service. I have no idea how or why my number became associated. I saw no promotion for the service and did not sign up for it… I was not made aware of charges until my phone bill failed to come from my account – I incurred bank charges as a result.”
Read the adjudications in full here.