Sunday 23 April 2017

Premium-rate psychics vow to fight €60 call cap

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

PREMIUM phone line operator Irish Psychics Live has vowed to fight plans to introduce a limit on how much customers can spend on calls to its service.

Today, regulator Regtel will publish a draft code of practice which would limit the spend per call to €60, down from €90, and a price warning will have to be given once a customer has spent €30.

And the new rules, which will be put out for public consultation before being adopted, also require operators of psychic, tarot and horoscope services to clearly state they are for entertainment purposes only.

If approved, the maximum spend on a "chat and dating" service will be €40, down from €60, with a warning given to customers once €20 is spent.

Maximum

For "live" services -- such as those offered by Irish Psychics Live -- a maximum spend of €60 is allowed.

Premium rate services include weather forecasting, news and sports results, and advice and entertainment services. Users are charged a premium rate per minute, with Irish Psychics Live charging €2.40 per minute.

Regtel also wants to simplify the procedures for customers to "opt out" of receiving further services by texting "stop" to the company. It also plans to publish complaints made against operators.

"Some of these chat services are quite expensive, it's to stop people running up huge bills," a Regtel spokesman said.

"People sign up, get tired of them and don't know how to opt out.

People were saying they were predicting the future, and the regulator was supposed to stand over the authenticity of the services.

"But you can't stand over the authenticity of tarot or psychics because they're not scientific."

However, the CEO of Irish Psychics Live, Tom Higgins, said it would fight the new rules.

"We've been very unhappy with the code of practice for some time," he said. "Our price warning is given at 12 minutes (when €28.80 has been spent) and at 24 minutes (€57.60)."

And he said he would not accept "stop" as an opt-out code, because it would not specify whether people wanted to withdraw from receiving information on promotions or cancel their subscription to weather forecasts and other services.

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