Intolerance: New 'Ringtone' Regulation

Rules on 'ringtone' advertising are being 'beefed up' following a deluge of complaints to the 'watchdog' that regulates 'premium rate 'phone services' in the UK. 'Icstis' has welcomed the new safeguards to protect consumers signing up for 'premium rate subscription services', such as 'ringtones' and 'wallpapers'. It says misleading ads. have meant many people have run up large bills because all costs are not spelled out. More than 100 people complained to the 'watchdog' about the 'Crazy Frog ringtone'. 'Teenagers vulnerable' The new rules were draw up by the UK's cell 'phone operators to determine how 'premium rate subscription services' are marketed by content providers. The deadline for complying with them is 2005-08-09. The rules go as far as to dictate font sizes and how prices should be displayed in TV adverts. In recent months, many people have mistakenly run up large bills by inadvertently subscribing to 'ringtone' and 'text' services when they thought they were just buying one tune. The popularity of the 'Crazy Frog ringtone' has led many people to download it to their 'phone without realising that it is only part of a bundle of tunes they will regularly be billed for. 'Teenagers are particularly vulnerable as they do not always fully appreciate the conditions attached to such services,' said Mr.George Kidd, 'Icstis' director. The wildly popular 'Crazy Frog' has made history by becoming the first 'ringtone' to reach the top of the pop charts. It is part of a package of ringtones created by mobile content company 'Jamster', and sold through a mobile service provider called 'MBlox'. Consumers who may think they are buying the 'Crazy Frog ringtone' are signing up for a subscription plan. Each week, they receive a new 'text' message for which they are charged 3_GBP, enabling them to download another 'ringtone'. No small print The new rules, drawn up by cell 'phone operators and backed by 'premium service' 'watchdog', 'Icstis', will force content sellers to make it clear what people have bought and how much ongoing costs are. They demand that details of prices and how often people are billed are prominent in adverts. For TV adverts, scrolling price banners and small fonts are outlawed. In print, adverts prices and conditions must be in the main body of an advert rather than the small print. They also stipulate that as soon as someone has signed up for a service they are sent a 'text message' telling them what they are getting. Customers must also get a reminder of how to unsubscribe every month or every time 20_GBP is spent. Mr.Kidd said the rules built on the universal 'stop' command that was introduced in 2004. This lets people unsubscribe by sending 'stop all' to the short code associated with the service they have signed up for. Mr.Adrian Harris, founder of the 'Grumbletext' website where people log problems with 'phone services, said he welcomed the new safeguards -- up to a point. If all firms complied with the rules then consumers would definitely be better off, he said. But, he said, the big problem was policing 'ringtone' sellers. He called on 'Icstis' to be more active in seeking out offending firms rather than just investigating on a case-by-case basis. At the end of 2005-06 'The Department of Trade and Industry' announced a big increase in fines for firms that break rules on the selling of 'premium rate' 'phone services. After the increase the maximum fine is 250_000_GBP -- more than double the previous upper limit of 100_000_GBP. 'Ringtone ads face stiff controls ', BBC NEWS,2005/07/22 16:38:06 GMT


Anonymous Anonymous said...


7/26/2005 12:50:00 am  

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