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Consumers Need Better Safeguards for Mobile Premium Services

OTTAWA – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) in a report released today entitled, “Paying a Premium: Consumers and Mobile Premium Services” called for better consumer protection for mobile premium services, also known as premium text messaging services.

PIAC’s report includes focus groups with consumers who had experiences with mobile premium services and a review of industry self-regulation and practices for mobile premium services.

PIAC counsel and report co-author Janet Lo noted that consumers continue to report many problems with mobile premium services, from unauthorized subscriptions to unsuccessful unsubscription and difficulties disputing charges for these third party services with their wireless service provider and the mobile premium service company: “The self-regulatory model for mobile premium services is not working for consumers. Consumers need and expect better protection against unauthorized billing for mobile premium services, especially from their wireless service provider who is a central party profiting from this industry.”

The report notes that many other countries, including Australia, the U.K. and the United States have stronger regulatory models for mobile premium services, some of which mandate that consumers have access to a free premium text blocking service to prevent unwanted charges.

The report makes a number of recommendations to improve consumer protection for mobile premium services. PIAC recommends that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) consider regulating mobile premium services and implement analogous consumer safeguards that currently exist for third party pay call (900/976 services) for phone. PIAC also calls on wireless service providers to assume greater responsibility for protecting their consumers as both a profiting party and as the first point of contact with the consumer.
“Regulatory oversight of premium text messages and strong enforcement of the rules in the public interest is long overdue.” Lo said. “Consumers should be extremely wary of these services until the problems with them are fixed.”

The full report is available for download at the following link: Paying a Premium: Consumers and Mobile Premium Services 

PIAC received funding from Industry Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-Profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations to prepare the report. The views expressed in the report are not necessarily those of Industry Canada or the Government of Canada.

For more information, please contact:

Janet Lo
Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
(613) 562-4002×24 (Tel)
(613) 562-0007 (Fax)
jlo@piac.ca

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Paying a Premium: Consumers and Mobile Premium Services (Rev Sept 2011)
Download File: mobile_premium_services_final_report_rev_15sept2011.pdf [size: 1.99 mb]

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