Case Study 2

Complaint: Mr B received a bill from his telephone company for two calls made to an Internet dialler, for which he was charged $110. While the complainant remembered using the Internet at the time, he had no idea what these charges were for, and had not knowingly authorised them.

Action taken: Mr B contacted 190 Complaints indicating that he was unaware of any connection being made to a 190 service at the time, and had not agreed to any charges being made to his telephone account. He pointed out that his Internet Service Provider (ISP) account indicated that he was not connected to the Internet at the time of the calls, and could not work out what had happened.

190 Complaints explained to Mr B that when connection is made to an Internet dialler, the user is disconnected from his or her usual ISP and connected to pay per minute value added web site content via a 190 number. The software to allow for this connection had previously been downloaded when Mr B was connected to his regular ISP.

190 Complaints investigated the service by locating a web site address for the dialler, and checked the dialler. It was found not to contain the fixed dialogue boxes prior to user connection required by the Code of Practice, in which the user is informed of the cost per minute of connection, given the 190 number on which connection is to be made (paragraph C.8.2), and confirms that the bill payer’s permission to accept the charge has been given (paragraph C.8.3).

The Arbitrator contacted the 190 service provider indicating that the complaint raised possible breaches of paragraphs C.8.2 and C.8.3. The service provider offered to refund Mr. B, and voluntarily disconnected the 190 number from the dialler until software technicians could fix the breaches of the Code of Practice.