PhonepayPlus, the phone-paid services regulator (formerly ICSTIS), has today published a Statement of Application for the regulation of 0871 numbers.
The Statement explains how PhonepayPlus proposes to apply the existing requirements of its Code of Practice to services offered on 0871 numbers. The regulator’s proposals will boost consumer confidence in using 0871 numbers by setting clear rules governing price transparency.
0871 numbers are used for a range of services from financial services, ticket bookings, road traffic advice and customer service facilities. Callers are generally charged between five and 10 pence per minute (ppm) to call a number beginning with 0871, although some networks, including mobiles, charge more.
In April 2006, Ofcom announced measures to improve price transparency and strengthen consumer protection for calls to chargeable 08 number ranges. As part of this, it proposed to extend PhonepayPlus’ remit to include calls made to 0871 numbers.
Please see www.phonepayplus.org.uk/latest_news/default.asp for full details of the Statement of Application.
In summary, PhonepayPlus’ proposals include:
• Clear pricing (5.7 of the Code) Consumers must be better informed of the price of a call prior to incurring any charge.
• Delay/call queuing (5.4.2) Consumers should be provided with information regarding their expected wait times to allow them to decide whether to continue to hold or not, especially during peak busy periods.
• Fairness (5.4.1) Promotions or services must not mislead or take unfair advantage of consumers.
• Redress (8.7.2) Consumers will be able to complain to PhonepayPlus – non-compliant providers will be brought to account where there is evidence of wrongdoing. Should a provider be found in breach of its Code, PhonepayPlus has the power to issue formal reprimands, impose fines and even shut down the provider’s operations.
Following today’s publication of PhonepayPlus’ Statement of Application, Ofcom will conduct an independent consultation on the extension of PhonepayPlus’ remit to include the 0871 number range. Changes are likely to take effect in the spring of 2008. The regulators then intend to give providers a three-month period to prepare for implementation of the new regulations for 0871 services. During this period and beyond, PhonepayPlus will work closely with service providers and others to ensure a smooth transition to the new regulatory regime.
PhonepayPlus believes its proposed regulations will benefit the industry as a whole by:
• boosting consumer confidence in using 0871 numbers,
• providing greater clarity for operators of 0871 numbers,
• protecting consumers by allowing them to make an informed choice by knowing in advance what they will pay if they call an 0871 number,
• preventing unscrupulous operations, so protecting legitimate providers from consumer mistrust.
In announcing the proposed Statement of Application, Paul Whiteing, Director of Policy and Innovation at PhonepayPlus, said:
“We must continue to develop public trust in phone-paid services. We are confident that we can build on our success in regulating the phone-paid services industry and establish a regulatory framework that is of benefit to both consumers and the industry.”
Please see www.phonepayplus.org.uk for further information.
For further information, please contact:
PhonepayPlus Media Office: 020 7940 7408 or 020 7940 7415
NOTES TO EDITORS
• On 25 April 2007, PhonepayPlus (then ICSTIS) published a consultation seeking stakeholders’ views on the proposed
application of its regulatory regime to the 0871 number range. It also sought views on the contents of a draft Statement of
Application. This consultation can be found at www.phonepayplus.org.uk/pdfs_consult/0871_services.pdf.
• Phone-paid services offer some form of content that is charged to your phone bill or mobile pre-pay account. The money
paid by users for services is shared between the telephone company carrying the service and the organisation(s) providing
• PhonepayPlus regulates the content, promotion and overall operation of services through its Code of Practice. It investigates
complaints, and has the power to fine companies and close down and/or bar access to services if the Code is breached. It
can also bar the individual(s) behind a company from running any other services under any company name on any telephone
network for a defined period.
• Services can be accessed by landline or mobile phone, fax, interactive TV (for example, by using the red button on the
remote control) and PC (for example, in e-mails or on the internet).
• Most services are advertised on either 09 dialling codes or, in the case of text services, four or five-digit short code numbers
followed by a descriptive key word (for example, 11111 VOTE). Services offering adult entertainment must only be advertised
on 0908, 0909 or 098 numbers and on mobile short code numbers beginning 69 or 89. Directory enquiry services are
advertised on six-digit numbers beginning 118.
• Calls vary in cost depending on the type of service you use and the way in which you access it (for example, landline or
mobile phone). Calls to 09 numbers from landlines vary in cost from 10 pence per call to
Contact: Charlotte Gosling
Phone: 0131 226 3000