Mobile premium services information for consumers | ACMA

Mobile premium services information for consumers

Mobile premium services are offered using numbers starting with ‘191’, ‘193’-‘197’ and ‘199’. Customers are charged a premium for using the service - so they cost more than standard SMS (text message) or MMS (multimedia message).

Premium services that can be purchased include:

  1. Mobile ringtones

  2. Mobile wallpaper

  3. Games

  4. Chat services

  5. Competitions

  6. Horoscopes

  7. Age-restricted content

  8. News, sports and weather updates

  9. Music and video clips

When accessing these services you 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:

  1. SMS – responding to an advertisement by texting a keyword to a number starting with ‘191’, ‘193’ – ‘197’ or ‘199’.

  2. Online – entering your mobile phone number on a website

  3. IVR (interactive voice response) – you call an automated voice service on your mobile phone to request a mobile premium service.

A one-off or a subscription service

Mobile premium services can be:

  1. single service – you would only pay once

  2. subscription – you purchase and pay for an ongoing service – for example, you pay $10 a 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.

  1. Advertising for subscription or ongoing services must include the word ‘subscription’.

  2. Subscription services will also send a text to your mobile phone after your initial request to confirm you want the service.

  3. 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:

  1. Call the premium content supplier’s helpline about charges or to stop the service

  2. 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

  3. Check with your mobile phone company to see if calls or messages from premium SMS/MMS numbers can be barred.

Stop SMS text advertising (SPAM)

Spam is the common term for electronic 'junk mail' – messages which you have not agreed to receive.

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

If you’ve received spam:

  1. make a complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

Consent to receive a mobile premium service

It is important to know what you are agreeing to.

  1. Read the terms and conditions

  2. Agreeing to receive the service means you agree to all the terms and conditions

  3. Check you can easily ‘opt out’ of receiving marketing messages.

Content suppliers have to set out important terms and conditions of the mobile premium services they are selling in their advertisements.

Confirmation messages

Content suppliers must get customers to confirm requests for subscriptions or ongoing mobile premium services. You will get a message asking you to conform you want the service.

If you want the service, reply 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 include:

  1. A ‘sign up’ cost

  2. A set cost per message sent or received

  3. 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:

  1. The cost of the service

  2. The frequency of the service

  3. How to cancel the service

  4. Who you can contact for any problems or questions

  5. What happens to your personal information

If you are not comfortable with any particular conditions, think carefully about whether to agree to receive the service.

Stopping a mobile premium service

Cancel your subscription at any time by texting ‘STOP’ to the number that sends you the service.

How long will it take to cancel the service

It can take up to 1 business day for your request to be processed. Once you have sent a ‘STOP’ text message:

  1. You will not be charged for any more services from that number

  2. You should receive confirmation your service has been cancelled.

Confirmation messages

A confirmation message contains information about the service including:

  1. the cost of the service

  2. a helpline number

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:

Help with mobile premium service problems

If you have problems with your service, including unsubscribing, call the helpline number provided in the original confirmation message or on your bill.

Blocking mobile premium services

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

This will prevent any further charges from all premium SMS and MMS services and prevent access to premium SMS and MMS services.

To just stop a particular service you are receiving:

  1. 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:

  1. report spam on your mobile phone

Helpline number

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

  2. The number should be on your bill. Or contact your phone company (the organisation you pay your bills to), and ask for details of charges from numbers starting with ‘19’.

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

Mobile premium services and children

Young consumers may not understand the terms and conditions in ads or confirmation messages. This could result in unexpected high bills.

A content supplier must take into account whether:

  1. the bill-payer consented for the premium service

  2. they understood the terms and conditions

Making a complaint

To make a complaint about a mobile premium service you should first contact the content supplier.

Unresolved problems

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

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) For unresolved issues regarding phone bills and charges.Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) If you want to make a complaint about: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) If you think an advertisement for a premium service might be deceptive or misleading.

State & Territory Consumer Affairs & Fair TradingContact the consumer affairs office in your state or territory

Last updated: 12 June 2019