Mobile service complaints halve in one year

PhonepayPlus, the phone-paid services regulator, has announced that complaint figures concerning mobile services are down by half one year on from the introduction of new rules that came about following its 2008 Mobile Review.

The new regulation was introduced in response to a worrying rise in consumer complaints regarding mobile services which, on average, account for some 90% of all calls to PhonepayPlus’ Contact Centre.

PhonepayPlus chairman, Sir Alistair Graham, has additionally accepted an invitation to stay in post for a further three years.

PhonepayPlus’ complaint figures show that: Total complaints regarding mobile services are down 57% from June 2008 compared to May 2009 (2,125 vs 919); Consumer complaints regarding mobile subscription services have almost halved since the introduction of the new rules (1,207 vs 651); Consumer complaints about unsolicited text messages are down by 85% from the first half of 2008/9 compared to the second half (1,538 vs 230).

Commenting, PhonepayPlus chief executive, Paul Whiteing, said: “These results show that we are heading in the right direction and sorting the good from the bad in mobile services. It is early days, and we are still analysing the various impacts on our complaint numbers, but these are an encouraging set of results that appear to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new rules, as supported by responsible providers in the sector.

He continued: “However we are not complacent and remain vigilant for any new opportunistic activity that may result in consumer harm. This risk is especially acute since, with a country in the midst of recession, we expect the PRS industry to be attractive to unscrupulous operators looking for ways to make a fast profit. We remain committed to being proactive in preventing non-compliant services from making it to market.”

PhonepayPlus’ Mobile Review set out new rules for the mobile phone-paid services sector. It stated that services could not be advertised as free unless they were free from any associated charges; set new rules around trading of third party marketing lists; and introduced a prior permissions scheme for subscription services costing upwards of £4.50 in any given week. The Review also reinforced PhonepayPlus’ zero tolerance of any failure of the ‘STOP’ command for opting out of receiving unwanted contact by text message.

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