Comreg the communications regulator for Ireland has released new rules governing premium rate services (PRS). These rules will come into force and are on the back of a consultation process last year. The rules will come into effect on the 5th of June 2012. Some of the new rules include:
PRS Providers must not raise a premium rate charge to provide information about a Subscription Service or its availability. A premium rate charge may only be raised when an end user has requested and subsequently unambiguously consented to subscribe to the PRS and the PRS provider has delivered the PRS to the end-user.
Subscription Request Messages must follow the format of the example provided below:
To subscribe to [name of service and optional description] for [sign-up cost] and [cost of service in €] per [billing frequency – message received/time] and confirm that you are over 18 yrs, text AGREE [or other unique keyword for the service] to Short Code 5XXXX.
Subscription Confirmation Messages must follow the format of the example provided below:
You have subscribed to [name of service and optional description] for [sign-up costs] and [cost of service in €] per [billing frequency – message received/time] until you send STOP to [originating service short code]. Helpline [not more than national rate phone number]. [Any URL that the PRS providers wishes]
Also where an end-user texts the word “STOP” to unsubscribe from a Subscription Service, the instruction must be effective without being case sensitive. Upon receipt of an unsubscribe message, the PRS provider must forthwith:
(a) cease charging for and cease the provision of the PRS with immediate effect,
(b) send a free information message to the end-user acknowledging receipt of the unsubscribe message and the fact that it has been acted
An end-user must not incur a premium rate charge to unsubscribe from a Subscription Service.
Personally I think the new rules are a welcome addition. They should offer more protection to consumers from being unfairly ripped off. The proof, though, of their effectiveness will probably be found in how Comreg deal with the rule breakers. If you’ve had problems with PRS services check out our guide: