Between 19 March 2015 to 1 April 2016, the Executive received 109 complaints concerning a glamour video subscription service, charged at £3 per week, operating on shortcodes 69119, 85085 and 89880 (the “Service”).
The Level 1 provider for Service shortcode 69119 was IMImobile Europe Limited. The Level 1 provider for Service shortcode 85085 was Fonix Mobile Limited. The Level 1 provider for Service shortcode 89880 was Veoo Ltd.
Complainants variously alleged that the Service charges were unsolicited. In addition, after analysing complainant message logs, the Executive noted that there was a high failure rate of chargeable messages following the purported consumer opt-ins, and the delivery status of Service messages was unclear.
The Executive raised the following potential breaches of the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (the "Code"):
• Rule 2.3.3 – Consent to charge
• Paragraph 4.2.4 – Provision of false information to PhonepayPlus
The Tribunal upheld the two breaches of the Code raised. The Level 2 provider’s revenue in relation to the Service was in Band 2 (£500,000 to £999,999). The Tribunal considered the case to be very serious and imposed a formal reprimand, a fine of £250,000, and a requirement that the Level 2 provider remedy the breach by ensuring that it has robust verification of each consumer’s consent to be charged before making any further charge to the consumer, including for existing subscribers to the Service. The Tribunal also imposed a requirement that the Level 2 provider must refund all consumers who claim a refund, for the full amount spent by them on the Service, within 28 days of their claim, save where there is good cause to believe that such claims are not valid, and provide evidence to PhonepayPlus that such refunds have been made.
Administrative charge recommendation: Full amount subject to a reduction of 3 hours of investigation time