Can complaints on mobile content be cut?

Can complaints on mobile content be cut?

Summary: On 1 July this year the new Mobile Premium Services Code was introduced. It sounds like it's had a good impact, but is it enough?


The Mobile Premium Service Industry has a poor track record. There were 15,653 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman last year. It's a scourge according to Alan Asher from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

On 1 July this year the new Mobile Premium Services Code was introduced. It sounds like it's had a good impact, but is it enough?

As you'll hear on today's Twisted Wire, there's wide recognition that some shonky operators do exist, but there are also the problems of conveying detailed terms and conditions to a customer on a small screen device.

With the ACMA now breathing down the industry's neck, moves are finally being made to bring the problem under control. In particular, Telstra and Optus have outsourced the monitoring of services and will, hopefully, cut-off suppliers that repeatedly break the new code.

It sounds like it's too late, though, to stop more regulation from ACMA. Its consideration of enforced default call barring is just one of several likely new regulatory measures to be faced by the industry next year.

In today's program you'll hear from:

  • Alan Asher, chief executive of ACCAN, the recently formed Australian Communications Consumer Action Network
  • Matt Costello, co-founder of content aggregator 5th Finger
  • Ann Hurley, CEO of the Communications Alliance
  • Vince Humphries, manager of ACMA's Education & Telephone Content section
  • Colin Matthews, CEO at compliance monitoring firm WMC Global
  • Gary Smith, general manager regulatory compliance at Optus

What else needs to be done to reduce the complaints about premium mobile content? Add your thoughts in the Talkback section at the end of this post.

Topics: Telcos, Government AU, Legal, Mobility, Optus, Telstra


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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  • Just use the internet!

    Why not just get a data plan for your mobile phone and use its web browser to get such services as looking up house prices, weather information, and transport information. Then you don't have to worry about scams and will find it's much cheaper than spending $2 per message to get such information. On Telstra Prepaid Plus I get 100 MB for $10 per month. Which is more than enough for these kinds of services.
  • Telco Staff Training

    Telco inbound staff also need training - I work at a retail telco store and we get quite a large number of customers who have been inadvertently subscibed to one of these premium message services. Usually their first step is to ring their telco to discover what these charges actually mean, and generally they just slap a premium message barring onto the account. This type of barring doesn't affect current subscriptions however, it just stops the customer from being able to text anything to premium numbers - which unfortunately includes the "STOP" message used to unsubscribe.

    Telco staff need proper training to better understand the impact of their actions on peoples' accounts.