PhonepayPlus Code of Practice Review: A call for inputs

September 22, 2013

PhonepayPlus is calling for inputs to a review of the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice.

The timing of the review is driven, in part, by Ofcom’s review of non-geographic call services and the fact that the current Code of Practice has now been in force for two years. The Call for Inputs paper details the areas of the Code of Practice that PhonepayPlus is considering amending:

  • Amendments resulting from Ofcom’s forthcoming legal instruments on non-geographic call services;
  • Changes to ensure the Code is future-proofed for current and future market developments;
  • Technical amendments to Parts Three and Four of the Code; and
    Improvements to support the principle of ‘polluter pays’.

A formal consultation on the Code takes place in 2014. The deadline for responses to the Call for Inputs is Thursday 24 October 2013.

Separately, PhonepayPlus has also issued a compliance update related to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.  PhonepayPlus is concerned about competition or quiz services which are widely marketed using online affiliate marketing techniques. Such services typically offer a cash prize or the latest tablet or smartphone device as an inducement to enter, and suggest by answering a simple question, along with supplying a mobile number “you can have a chance to win”. These competitions can have an extended entry period of up to 3, 6 or 12 months and are priced in varying ways. Entry to the service often involves a recurring charge, most often subscription, or demands repeated entries leading to accumulated costs over time. PhonepayPlus is concerned that affiliate marketing misleads consumers and will be issuing guidance on the use of affiliate marketing in the near future.

In addition, PhonepayPlus is concerned that such services do not make the value and total cost to consumers sufficiently clear and can therefore mislead them into using services which, were they better informed, they might choose not to use.  PhonepayPlus is recommending that industry members operating such competitions, prize draws or other repeat charge services urgently review them to ensure that they are not breaching, or likely to breach, the PhonepayPlus Code or the Regulations.  In addition to any enforcement action PhonepayPlus may undertake for breaches of the Code, it also points out that where it believes the Regulations may have been contravened, it may refer the issue to enforcement authorities.