Premium rate mobile service subscribers get €390,000 refund
Consumers get cash back after ComReg intervention
ComReg said consumers did not receive notification that they had subscribed to the ’Prize Club’ service or details of the cost.
Subscribers to a premium rate mobile quiz service which charged consumers up to €12.50 per week have been refunded €390,000.
The Communications Regulator said it had secured the refunds for 12,000 Irish customers who had complained about the service, operated by Dragonfly Mobile Limited.
The refund comes almost a year after ComReg ruled the company was not in compliance with various provisions of the Premium Rate Service Code of Practice and in breach of its licence.
Dragonfly’s ‘Prize Club’ was a subscription service that allowed users to access mobile content and enter competitions. The service cost €12 per week, through six reverse-billed SMS at €2 per message on the 57741 and 57080 short code numbers and €12.50 per week though five reverse billed SMS at €2.50 per message on the 57575 short code number.
The regulator last year asked mobile operators to block access to phone short codes associated with the service and to withhold all interconnection payments and other revenues related to it. This came after an investigation that discovered Dragonfly had sent unsolicited and misleading text messages to consumers which resulted in them inadvertently subscribing to Prize Club.
ComReg said consumers did not receive notification that they had subscribed to the service or details of the cost. It also said subscribers were charged for a service that was not provided and received blank billing and content messages and were therefore not able to avail of the service they had already paid for.
Following its investigation, Dragonfly was ordered to make a commitment to refund customers. Having failed to do so, ComReg said it had revoked the firm’s licences and withdrew the allocated short codes.
The regulator said it had come to an agreement with mobile operators that withheld interconnection payments would be used to refund all charges incurred to subscribers of the service.
“In this case, ComReg worked with the industry to ensure the interests of consumers were protected. ComReg was able to use the laws available to it in order to stop consumers’ money reaching the premium rate service provider who was in breach of its obligations. Due to the significant efforts of the mobile operators and other intermediaries money was refunded to consumers,” said commissioner Jeremy Godfrey.