When you ask anyone about premium SMS they will usually think of the companies that you used to see on television offering ringtones, wallpaper, games, photos or dating sites that people could download to their mobile phones.
With these companies, SMS payments very quickly got a very bad reputation.
Some of these companies weren’t very clear about exactly how much they would charge a customer. Many people thought they’d paid for a one-off item such as a ringtone, to find out that they were actually being charged weekly for a whole range of ringtones that they didn’t want, order or need.
Sometimes, the customer would be offered a ‘free’ ringtone, game or text, only to discover later, when their phone ran out of credit or their mobile phone bill came in, that they’d been charged a lot of money for this ‘free’ product.
These SMS companies never revealed that a one-off purchase or acceptance of a ‘free’ item was actually an agreement to purchase more products from their company at ridiculously high fees.
They also were quite often very threatening to customers who rang up to cancel their premium SMS subscriptions. A common ruse was to threaten to contact the customer’s mobile phone operator and cancel the customer’s mobile phone account. This is something they could never actually do.
Thankfully, governments around the world quickly responded to these premium SMS scans and have set up consumer bodies with legislative powers to police all providers of premium SMS.
To find out which organisation or regulatory body legislates over premium SMS in your country or in other countries around the world, click here.