How expensive premium-rate services reel customers in
Published 01/11/2011 | 05:00
SIGNING up to a premium rate subscription service without knowing it is the number one pitfall for consumers.
It typically involves texting in an answer to a competition you've spotted on the internet or in an ad to win a prize.
But then you find yourself the recipient of dozens of unwanted text messages that you might dismiss as spam -- but quickly run down your phone credit.
You can typically be charged as much as €2.50 per text you receive, meaning the costs mount up, and it can be difficult to unsubscribe.
Customers who do complain often find that the provider has an out-clause -- because they can point to small print in its advertising outlining the conditions.
A ComReg survey found that the advertising of these services was "undeniably unbalanced" and designed to hook customers in with terms and conditions that, even if spotted, were unclear and confusing.
One parent said his young daughter had unwittingly signed up for ringtones after seeing a TV ad -- but she had no idea it would be an ongoing subscription.
This had resulted in high charges and it had taken quite a few attempts to unsubscribe.