Company banned from phone-paid services market for five years
22 August 2019
Heart Communications Limited has been banned from having any involvement in the phone-paid services market for five years by the regulator, the Phone-paid services Authority.
This is after the company failed to comply with earlier sanctions, including a fine of £165,000, issued in October 2018. The ban will stand for five years, or until the company complies with all the original sanctions and pays administrative charges.
Heart Communications, which operated the paidpeople.co.uk and ukassingnments.co.uk websites, claimed to be operating information services providing consumers with advice about working from home.
Consumers registered with the website. After providing personal details, they were instructed to call a 09-number charging £2.50 per minute. They were then asked a series of questions by an operator, in calls which could take more than 15 minutes.
Many consumers reported that they were not subsequently given paid work through the site as they had been led to believe.
The PSA Tribunal found that the websites were ‘misleading’. Consumers were also not made aware of the cost of calling the 09 number, which was not made clear on the website.
Some consumers also tried to complain to the company but did not have their complaints resolved quickly, easily and fairly, as required by the PSA Code of Practice.
One consumer said: “I went onto a website called Paid People which leads people to believe that they have assignments waiting so that you can earn money by choosing whatever tasks or projects suit you… They ask you to register with them online and you’ll be emailed login details to their portal, once I did this, they ask you to call 09131 240 150 to get your activation code. Once you ring them, the operator will ask you to repeat everything you filled in online… The wording is misleading as it leads you to believe you are ringing to get an activation code.”
For failing to comply with the original sanctions, the PSA Tribunal issued a formal reprimand and a five year Prohibition on the service provider from having any involvement in the phone-paid services market for five years, or until all sanctions imposed by the Tribunal of 10 October 2018 have been complied with.
View the adjudication in full here.