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New code for mobile premium services good news for consumers.



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Federal Member for Wannon

Hamilton Office 190 Gray St, HAMILTON VIC 3300 Warrnambool Office 73 Kepler St WARRNAMBOOL VIC 3280 Freecall 1300 131 692 E David.Hawker.MP@aph.gov.au W www.davidhawker.com.au

Federal Member for Wannon

18 November 2008

NEW CODE FOR MOBILE PREMIUM SERVICES GOOD NEWS FOR CONSUMERS

Federal Member for Wannon, David Hawker, has welcomed the Communications Alliance’s release for public comment of a new Mobile Premium Services Code which contains enhanced consumer safeguards and industry obligations.

The Code follows Mr Hawker’s campaign earlier this year to raise awareness of mobile phone scams and additional charges being listed on consumers’ bills without their prior knowledge or consent.

“Mobile Premium Services (MPS) are additional information and entertainment offerings that are downloaded via mobile phones. They are identified by the ‘19’ at the beginning of the number,” Mr Hawker said.

“Unfortunately, many mobile phone users have found they are being charged for these extra services without their prior knowledge or consent. In addition, if a service has been subscribed to, often unintentionally, these users usually find themselves locked into ongoing charges to their bill.

“Earlier this year I met with the Communications Alliance and spoke in parliament about the need for greater safeguards and for mobile service providers to take greater responsibility for these scams.

“I welcome the subsequent release of this new Code, which follows other initiatives including the launch of a new ‘One Stop Shop’ web site earlier this month and the development of an industry register.”

Content providers charge a fee for these services, which is billed to customers through their mobile phone provider.

Some of the services are very popular, including financial data, news and weather services, sports scores, ring tones, wallpaper, games and horoscopes, however they do attract premium fees, greater than standard SMS and MMS charges, and often it is teenagers or children that subscribe to them without realising the consequences.

“A 2007-08 report by the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman revealed 13,899 consumer complaints about MPS. While it was found the vast majority of these were resolved, the Ombudsman remained concerned about the volume and nature of complaints,” Mr Hawker said.

“There were also concerns about unscrupulous operators ripping off consumers. As a result, carriers, content providers and aggregators have worked together with consumers and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to develop the new code.

“The industry is to be commended for its positive and pro-active response to the concerns raised by myself and the Ombudsman and I would encourage stakeholders to comment on the new code,” Mr Hawker said.

“Mobile Premium Services are useful to both industry and consumers and any initiatives that lift standards and better inform users are welcome, however, ongoing vigilance is required to ensure consumers’ interests are protected.”

The ‘One Stop Shop’ website which provides consumers with valuable tips and advice about Mobile Premium Services can be found at www.19sms.com.au.

Please also find attached a copy of Hansard recording Mr Hawker’s speech to the House of Representatives on mobile phone premium services and scams.

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Media contact: Jane Templeton (03) 5572 1100