Premium mobile phone SMS service provider, B33hive Pty Ltd, has been forced to alter certain of its radio advertisements after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) raised concerns about the adequacy of the information provided to listeners.
B33hive runs Lowball, which is a reverse auction SMS competition advertised across regional Queensland and New South Wales. According to a notice on the ACCC website, the government agency was concerned that the radio advertisements failed to refer consumer to the terms and conditions of the competition, which are available on the internet.
Moreover, it is reported that B33hive didn’t make it clear to consumers that by entering the competition they were accepting an ongoing SMS subscription for which they would be charged high rates. Typically, premium SMS services attract a fee of $5 to sign up, with a further $5 charged for every SMS send to the consumer from the service provider.
Since being caught by the ACCC, B33hive has “actively worked towards addressing the ACCC’s concerns,” said the agency.
“Specifically, B33hive have amended its radio advertising and internet pages so that the conditions of entering the reverse auction are clear to consumers from the outset.”
Consumer watchdogs have received an increasing number of complaints regarding similar dubious conduct in the premium SMS industry, says the ACCC.
“The premium SMS industry is largely regulated by ACMA under the Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2005 (No.1),” ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said yesterday.
“However, providers need to recognise that they still have obligations under the Trade Practices Act.
“Traders in the premium SMS industry, as in every industry, need to be aware of their obligations under the Act and risk ACCC action if they breach its provisions. They must fully inform consumers of any conditions or additional charges for unsolicited goods or services which are part of a promotion.
“If consumers have been caught out by similar conduct, they should contact their mobile telephone service provider in the first instance.”