The Communications Act 2003 provides Ofcom with the power to approve a Code for the purposes of regulating premium rate services and Ofcom has approved this Code under Section 121 of the Act.
Certain providers of premium rate services are obliged to comply with directions given by PhonepayPlus in accordance with its Code of Practice for the purpose of enforcing its provisions. The Code is voluntary.
Premium Rate Services
The UK Premium Rate Services Code sets down several important principles:
- Premium rate services comply with the law
- Consumers of premium rate services are fully and clearly informed of all information likely to influence the decision to purchase, including the cost, before any purchase is made.
- Consumers of premium rate services are treated fairly and equitably.
- Premium rate services do not cause the unreasonable invasion of consumers’ privacy.
- That premium rate services do not cause harm or unreasonable offence to consumers or to the general public.
- Consumers are able to have complaints resolved quickly and easily by the provider responsible for the service and that any redress is provided quickly and easily.
The main problem with the Premium Rate Services Code is that it is voluntary rather than mandatory. So, like the UK Telephone Preference Service which has no binding rules consumers must rely upon the goodwill of organisations running the premium service. Another problem is the international dimension of online business. The Premium Rate Services Code has little influence outside the UK.