PSA fines provider who took advantage of vulnerable consumers trying to call government helplines

30 March 2021

Webserve CMS charged people for connection to phone lines that were usually free to call.

The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) has sanctioned Peter Jones, a sole trader who traded as Webserve CMS.

Webserve ran a call-connection service which connected people to, for example, banks, shops and delivery services. It also offered connection to a number of government benefit organisations, including for Universal Credit. Calling these numbers is usually free of charge, but using the Webserve service cost consumers 7p per minute, plus network access charges. One consumer was charged over £100.

The Tribunal found that Jones had committed six breaches of the PSA’s Code of Practice. These breaches included one around consumer vulnerability, because the service was promoted and provided in a way that meant financially vulnerable consumers were taken advantage of.

The Tribunal fined Webserve £135,000, ordered it to refund all consumers who claim a refund and barred the service for a minimum of two years.

You can read the full details of all the breaches in the Tribunal’s decision.