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Extension to implementation period for specific providers of recurring donation services

25 September 2019

The PSA is extending the implementation date for Special conditions RDS6(d) and RDS7(c) for specific providers, which will now come into force on 6 January 2020.

Following publication of the PSA’s Statement on introducing new Special conditions for all subscription services, and the new Special conditions for Recurring Donation services, the PSA held an implementation workshop for industry members working in the charity space to raise any implementation-specific queries, ahead of the regulatory changes coming into force on 1 November 2019.

At the workshop it was identified that some charity print and broadcast advertisements that have already been produced for upcoming campaigns may not be compliant with the updated Special conditions for Recurring Donation services.  

Specifically, it was noted that these advertisements may state that the consumer will incur one standard rate network access charge to opt-in to a recurring donation. However, once the new Special conditions for Recurring Donation services are in place, if a two-stage Mobile Originating Short Message Service (MO SMS) opt-in method is used, the consumer is likely to incur more than one standard rate charge. This specific issue was not raised with the PSA during the consultation period. 

It was identified that it would be difficult for charities to reproduce television advertisements intended for Christmas campaigns by 1 November 2019. In light of this, the PSA was asked to consider an extension to the implementation date for RDS6(d) and RDS7(c) to provide charities sufficient time to update television and print advertisements to provide accurate information to consumers regarding the potential costs of opting in to a recurring donation.

Following consideration of this issue, the PSA is extending the implementation date for Special conditions RDS6(d) and RDS7(c) for specific providers, which will now come into force on 6 January 2020. The PSA considers that this will enable those providing recurring donation services who intend to use the two MO SMS opt-in route to obtain consumer consent to charge, sufficient time to make the necessary changes to their television and print advertisements to ensure compliance with the new Special conditions. This represents an approximately nine-week extension to the previous implementation date of 1 November 2019.  

The PSA considers that this extension and its length represents a fair and proportionate response that will enable the charity sector to address the discrete issue that it has raised. The PSA receives fewer complaints about recurring donation services in comparison with the number of complaints it receives about other service types, and we consider that a delayed implementation period on a limited number of requirements for Recurring Donation services that are related to the issue is acceptable  when balanced with the importance of ensuring that charities are able to provide clear and accurate information to consumers . During the extended implementation period, Recurring Donation services will be required to comply with the other changes we have put in place which also serve to improve the consumer experience and prevent harm. 

Use of SKIP message and receipting 

In implementation workshops, it was also discussed whether those operating in the charities space could split the information required to be set out in a receipt (as set out in RDS11) between the receipt message and the SKIP message (RDS 9) if the provider is using the SKIP function. There was a discussion on whether taking this approach would reduce duplication between messages and ensure that charities are able to include charity specific information in their communications with consumers.

The PSA has identified that no change is required to RDS9, and that providers are required to comply with all requirements set out in RDS11. The PSA does not consider that there is the risk of duplication across the SKIP message and the receipt, because the Special conditions for Recurring Donation services do not set out particular requirements about what the SKIP message must contain. This means that what a provider chooses to include in this message is entirely up to them, as long as the SKIP instruction command is included, to enable consumers to suspend their monthly donation.