In the Compliance Corner of its April 2009 Newsplus newsletter, PhonepayPlus, the regulator for premium rate (also known as “phone-paid”) services, raises a number of compliance issues in relation to the promotion of phone-paid services through social networking and other websites.
SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES
PhonepayPlus has noticed that social networking sites such as Facebook are being used increasingly as a channel to promote phone-paid services. The regulator warns anyone promoting phone-paid services through these channels that they should not manipulate the personal data available on the social networking site to make a statement that is untrue, as it is likely to view the service as misleading.
MARKETING BY AFFILIATES
PhonepayPlus says that as more and more mobile phone-paid services are promoted on the web, it is increasingly likely that some of these promotions will be undertaken by an affiliate partner of an information provider. It therefore reminds information providers that all aspects of service promotion remain their responsibility. PhonepayPlus expects any affiliate to be informed fully of the requirements within the PhonepayPlus Code and for the service and information providers to check that the affiliate is complying with the regulations. Additionally, PhonepayPlus warns that affiliates must not be incentivised to promote phone-paid services in ways that could breach the Code.
Next, PhonepayPlus suggests that recent adjudications have highlighted that the Code Compliance Panel is likely to uphold breaches where consumers have to scroll to view the key terms and conditions of a service, on the grounds that the information is not sufficiently prominent.
Finally, PhonepayPlus refers to the fact that it continues to receive a significant number of complaints regarding unsolicited messages. Given the risks associated with web optin and the difficulty in proving that a consumer has validly opted into a service, PhonepayPlus recommends that where users enter their mobile phone number online, risks can be reduced by structuring the page to include the following:
- A brief statement that confirms where the service content will be displayed.
- A mobile phone number field.
- A brief paragraph summarising the key terms and conditions.
- An unchecked mandatory tick box stating “I agree to the terms and conditions”.
- A next/submit button.