Crazy Frog endangered as Govt attacks mobile premium services

By Patrick Avenell

The mobile premium services industry, which profiteers off dimwitted teenagers paying exorbitant costs for ringtones, games and wallpapers, is set to be more heavily regulated.

The Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy has today called on industry and consumer comments regarding a draft operations guideline that will seek to reduce the enormous dissatisfaction with these service providers. Aside from the neverending advertisements during music video programs and the still inexcusable fame of Crazy Frog, premium service providers have also been accused of misleading consumers as to the real costs of its services.

Last month, for example, TMG Asia Pacific Pty Ltd was alleged to have “failed to adequately disclose the costs and other terms associated with its ‘Text and Win’ mobile premium services” in its television advertisements. In this instance, consumers who believed they were entering a competition on a one-off basis were automatically subscribed to an ongoing service.

Talking about this proposed set of guidelines is Senator Conroy.

"Mobile premium services are often the source of significant consumer frustration,” said Senator Conroy. “Consumers have the right to expect a fair deal and I welcome efforts by industry to provide them with improved safeguards and better information."

The Senator continued to note that the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman received nearly 14,000 complaints about mobile premium services since the start of 2007.

The draft code is available for review at this website, and the closing date for submissions is 12 December 2008.

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