New Updated Premium Rate Services Code Adopted – But More Changes May Be In Pipeline

Author:Ms Helen Kelly

In our previous eZine in January 2014, we reported on ComReg's proposed amendments to the current PRS Code of Practice 2012. ComReg has now published its response to consultation and decision (the Decision).

The Decision confirms the proposed changes to section 4.8 (price transparency), and section 5.20 (regulatory reminder message) addressed in our previous eZine but with some minor additions to reflect further industry comments:

Section 4.8 - price transparency

Following submissions from eircom, additional wording has been inserted to clarify that the price transparency information relates to messages received or sent. Section 5.20 - regulatory reminder message

Certain PRS providers raised concerns about technically being able to ensure that the regulatory reminder is actually received before the user spends a total of €20. This has been addressed by weakening the proposed text so that PRS providers must ensure that the reminder is sent such that it is likely to be received by an end user before the user spends €20. There was also some concern that PRS providers could game the system such that the timing of the reminder may straddle the next period's charges. ComReg provides the following example where the regulatory update message is sent after €20 in circumstances where the PRS costs €8 per week. In this case, if the user unsubscribed after receiving the regulatory message he/she would have paid for 2½ weeks services and may not have received anything for the extra €4 for which he/she has incurred a charge (ie, 2 x €8/week + €4). Accordingly, the text of section 5.20 has been clarified that the reminder should be sent only after the full charges for that charge period have been imposed. The new provisions of the Code are set out in full at Annex 1 of the Decision. Those active in the PRS sector have until the updated Code comes into effect on 3 June to get their house in order.

No change to the "double opt-in" requirement

ComReg has also confirmed that it will maintain its current approach for subscription PRS and will not drop or relax the "double opt-in" requirement. Certain operators had argued that the current "double opt-in" requirement should be removed for transactions below a certain value threshold as is the case in the UK for transactions below £4.50 (approximately5.40). ComReg has noted however, that in terms of complaints, more than 50% of its formal investigations related to PRS that did not appear to have a...

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