The ACMA

Mobile

Content and services

Mobile premium services

Mobile premium services provide information and entertainment services that are delivered to your mobile phone and cost more than standard SMS (text message) or MMS (multimedia message).

Premium services include:

  • mobile ringtones
  • mobile wallpaper
  • online games
  • chat services
  • SMS voting / competitions
  • horoscopes
  • age-restricted content
  • news, sports and weather updates
  • music and video clips.

When accessing these services you may need to download data from the internet. Your phone company may charge you a download fee on top of the premium service charge. Check the terms and conditions of your contract.

Accessing mobile premium services

There are a number of ways to access mobile premium services including:

  • SMS—responding to an advertisement by texting a keyword to a number starting with ‘191’, ‘193’ – ‘197’ or ‘199’
  • online—entering your mobile phone number on a website
  • IVR (interactive voice response)—you call an automated voice service on your mobile phone to request a mobile premium service.

A one-off or subscription service

Mobile premium services can be:

  • single purchase service—you only pay once
  • subscription service—you are charged on either a fee-per-time period basis or on a fee-per-message basis; for example, $10 per week or $5 per message pair with two messages per week. 

This must be clearly stated in any advertising, along with details of how often you will receive the content, its cost and how to stop the service.

  • Advertising for subscription or ongoing services must include the word ‘subscription’ or 'subscribe'.
  • Subscription services will also send a text to your mobile phone after your initial request to confirm you want the service.
  • You can cancel your mobile premium service at any time by texting ‘STOP’ to the content supplier.

Receiving unrequested text messages or services

There are a few things you can do to stop receiving text messages and services:

  • Call the premium content supplier’s helpline about charges or to stop the service.
  • Text ‘STOP’ to the number included in the message or on your bill. You will receive a message from the content supplier confirming cancellation of the service.
  • Contact your mobile phone company and ask them to bar all calls or messages from premium SMS and MMS numbers.

Stop SMS text advertising (spam)

If you receive unwanted messages that advertise a business or service, or invite you to sign up to a subscription service, you could be getting ‘spammed’.

Spam is the common term for electronic 'junk mail'—messages that you have not agreed to receive. The content of spam messages varies. Some messages promote products or services, while others attempt to trick users into providing bank account or credit card details. Many spam messages contain offensive or fraudulent material.

The Spam Act and Codes of Practice generally prohibit the sending of commercial electronic messages that you haven’t consented to receive.

If you think you have received spam on your mobile, keep the message and make a complaint to the ACMA.

Consent to receive a mobile premium service

It is important to know what you are agreeing to before you consent to purchase a mobile premium service on your mobile or a website. 

Content suppliers have to set out important terms and conditions of the mobile premium services they are selling in their advertisements. Make sure you read the terms and conditions before purchasing premium services. By agreeing to receive the service, you are agreeing to all the terms and conditions. When you agree to receive a mobile premium service, look for the means by which you can ‘opt out’ of receiving marketing messages in the future.

Confirmation messages

You will get a text message from the content supplier, asking you to confirm you want the service.

If you want the service, reply with the ‘keyword’ to confirm. If you do not want the service, ignore the message.

Mobile premium services costs

Costs for mobile premium services are calculated in many ways and may include:

  • a ‘sign-up’ cost
  • a set cost per message sent or received or message pair
  • a combination of cost per message and the amount of data downloaded; for example, a charge for the ringtone or game plus a download charge from your phone company.

Terms and conditions

The terms and conditions will tell you:

  • The cost of the servicehow much each SMS message you send or receive will cost you.
  • The frequency of the servicehow often you will receive SMS messages or downloads.
  • How to cancel the service—you can SMS ‘STOP’ to the service provider sending you the services.
  • Who you can contact for any problems or questionsa helpline number is included in messages from the service provider.
  • What happens to your personal information—check the service provider’s privacy policy.

How long will it take to cancel the service?

It can take up to one business day for your request to be processed. Once you have sent a ‘STOP’ text message:

  • you will not be charged for any more services from that number
  • you should receive confirmation your service has been cancelled.

Confirmation messages

A confirmation message contains information about the service including:

  • the service name
  • the cost of any charges on sign up and any ongoing charges for the service
  • a helpline number
  • the number to send a text with ‘STOP’ to cancel the service.

It is a good idea to keep this message in case you need help later.

Mobile premium services rules

Mobile premium services which use numbers with the prefixes 191, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197 and 199 are subject to the following code:

The code was developed by Communications Alliance Ltd and registered by the ACMA.

Blocking mobile premium services

You can contact your phone company to request premium SMS and MMS barring.

Barring will ensure you do not receive further premium SMS and MMS services and you will not incur any new charges from premium SMS and MMS services.

To just stop a particular service you are receiving:

  • reply 'STOP' to messages from each service you don’t want.

If you continue to receive marketing messages for services you haven’t requested, even if they are free, they may be spam.

Report spam to the ACMA:

Helpline number

  • The free or local call helpline number should be in any subscription confirmation messages, reminder messages, or expenditure update messages.

  • The number should be on your bill or contact your phone company and ask for details of charges from numbers starting with ‘19’.

  • Use the 19 service finder to find out more about the service including the helpline number.

  • You should also keep an eye out for scams using 19 SMS numbers.  For example, if you receive an SMS which offers the chance to win a prize by entering a competition by replying to a premium 19 SMS number or logging onto a website using your mobile phone, or and the SMS does not contain all the pricing terms and conditions or a STOP / opt-out number to stop receiving such SMS, it may be a scam.  Scamwatch has useful information about such MPS like scams.

Unresolved problems

If an issue about your premium service remains unresolved, you can lodge a complaint with the following appropriate agencies: 

Problems with phone bills and charges

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)

For billing issues contact the TIO on 1800 062 058 or visit www.tio.com.au.

Offensive content
The ACMA If you have concerns about inappropriate or offensive content in a premium SMS message, you can make a complaint to the ACMA through its online complaints facility at www.acma.gov.au/hotline.
Problems with spam
The ACMA

If you are receiving unsolicited messages, you can make a complaint to the ACMA through our 

online complaints facilityYou may also forward the SMS advertising for premium services to the ACMA’s Spam SMS service on 0429 999 888. (You will be billed the standard rate charged by your mobile phone provider for sending an SMS message.)

 Your consumer rights 
Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)
 If you think you have been misled by advertising for premium services or in any other way, you can complain to the ACCC.

The ACCC has a range of information available to help consumers understand their rights, including those relating to premium services.

 

Contact the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 302 502 or visit www.accc.gov.au.
 Scam MPS Scamwatch If you think you have received a SMS which looks like a scam pretending to be offering mobile premium services, you can report the scam to Scamwatch at http://scamwatch.gov.au.
Other help available Contact the consumer affairs office in your state or territory.
State & territory consumer affairs & fair trading

 

Last updated: 18 November 2015

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