Between 24 June 2015 and 12 September 2016, the Executive received 5 complaints concerning an adult video subscription service, charged at between £1.50 and £8.00 per week (“the Service”). The Level 2 provider for the Service was Mobigo Ltd (“the Level 2 provider”). Consumers opted-in to the Service via PayforIt and Service shortcode 83463 was used for the free spend reminder messages and for consumers to opt-out of the Service. The Level 1 provider for the Service was Tap2Bill Limited (formerly TA Wireless Information Network Ltd) and IMImobile Europe Limited. The Level 1 provider stated that the Service had operated between 28 November 2014 and 14 December 2015, when the Level 1 provider suspended it.
Complainants variously alleged that they had not consented to the Service charges. Monitoring of the Service obtained from a third party compliance monitoring company and provided to the Phone-paid Service Authoritys (“PSA”) by the Mobile Network Operator EE revealed that consumers could be opted-in to the Service by attempting to view a video and the Level 2 provider had used “iframe masking” to hide the subscribe command.
The Executive raised the following potential breaches of the PSA Code of Practice (“the Code”)
* Rule 2.2.1 – Provision of information
* Rule 2.3.1 – Fair and equitable treatment
* Rule 2.3.3 – Consent to charge
* Paragraph 4.2.5 - Failure to disclose requested information
The Tribunal upheld the breaches of the Code raised. The Level 2 provider’s revenue in relation to the Service was in Band 4 (£100,000 - £249,999). The Tribunal considered the case to be very serious and imposed a formal reprimand, a fine of £250,000, and a prohibition on the Level 2 provider from providing, or having any involvement in, any premium rate service for a period of five years, starting from the date of publication of this decision, or until payment of the fine and the administrative charges, whichever is the later. 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 PSA that such refunds have been made.
Administrative charge recommendation: 100%