Getting their come-uppance ?

I mentioned before a mobile phone scam that I reported back to PhonePayPlus the regulator responsible. They informed me recently that a judgement was made against the offending company – they were fined £20000 and prevented from using the number range in question for a year (unless they specifically mended their ways and followed the regulators guidelines).

In reporting this I hoped to stop others getting hit with these underhand actions from mobile companies aiming to make a big buck from these practices. Perhaps it would have been better if the fine was directly related to the amount of money that these companies rake in before they get stopped. I have no doubt that £20000 is a drop in the ocean for the company involved – and they will no doubt pop up elsewhere with some other weeze.. perhaps stopping them holding a license for a year – might be more painful??

The full adjudication reads

Service Provider 7Tel Limited

Information Provider Tony Lines t/a Net Lines

Service Name Unknown (promoted through missed calls)

Breaches upheld against 7Tel Limited

Procedure Standard

PhonepayPlus received 32 consumer complaints regarding the receipt of calls to mobile telephones which terminated after one ring. The missed call numbers were identified as ‘070535′ prefixed numbers. The complainants were consistent in claiming that the call they received terminated after one ring. This prompted consumers to return the call, whilst being unaware of higher rate charges. The majority of complainants who returned the call, claimed that, once connected, they were played a ringing tone, which some recognised to be a recording of a ringing tone.

Ofcom has designated 070 numbers for use only as personal ‘follow me’ numbers, which are charged at a higher rate. This service charged users 50 pence per minute from a landline and was found to be a Premium Rate Service.

The following breaches of the PhonepayPlus Code Practice 11th Edition (amended April 2008) were raised:

Paragraph 5.4.1a – Fairness (Misleading)
Paragraph 5.7.1 – Pricing Information
Paragraph 5.8 – Contact Information
Paragraph 5.12 – Inappropriate Promotion
Paragraph 8.3.3 – Complaint Investigation
The Tribunal upheld all the above breaches. The Tribunal considered the case to be very serious and issued a formal reprimand and imposed a confiscatory and punitive fine of £20,000. The Tribunal imposed a bar on the service and the numbers providing access to the service for 12 months, or until the service provider seeks and implements compliance advice from PhonepayPlus so as to make the service compliant, whichever is the longer. The Tribunal doubted whether the service which had been the subject of the complaints could be made compliant with the Code.