What is there to know about premium rate text messages?

What should we pay attention to?

Published: 5 August 2016

What are received premium rate text messages?

Mobile service provider subscribers may utilize information or content (for example, background images, ringtones, videos, horoscopes) offered by content providers through messages (SMS/MMS) received through the electronic telecommunication network on their device in the framework of premium rate text message services (hereinafter as: service). Content providers are responsible for the service and its content.

Can all parties benefit from the service, can it be provided to anyone without limitations?

Based upon legal regulations, the service is disabled by default in the subscriber contract. The subscriber may request the service to be enabled or “activated” free of charge through the telecommunications service provider, for example, by contacting its telephone customer service. It is similarly free of charge to subsequently disable the service and then enable it again.

The enabling and disabling of the services may only be requested for all content services. Therefore the subscriber may either disable all such services or enable them, thus there is no option to disable or enable specific service providers or numbers. Service providers are required to provide screening software in order to prevent minors from accessing services which display undesirable content. Said restriction may not be lifted even upon the request of the minor age subscriber’s legal guardian.

How can the service be utilized?

Subscribers may “order” the content services by sending a so-called registration text message to a special (06-90 or 06-91) call number.

The service may be use on a single occasion or continuously. Therefore, by registering or sending a single registration text message, the subscriber may receive one-time only or regularly recurring content. Sending the text message is subject to a fee – in accordance with the subscriber tariff plan.

What happens subsequent to registration?

Subsequent to registration, the content provider will send information on the fees of the service via text message, the maximum number of text messages to be dispatched and their frequency, the manner of cancelling the service and the contact information of their customer service. The receipt of this text message is free of charge for the subscriber within the area of the country.

What can subscribers do if they decide not to utilize the service?

Subsequent to registration, yet before utilizing the service for the first time, subscribers may reconsider and cancel the service by text message. Information on the cancellation deadline is included in the telecommunication service provider’s General Terms and Conditions (GTC). Utilized services may also be cancelled if the subscriber no longer wishes to use them – by sending a text message to the premium rate number with fees similar to the “ordering” text message.

The service may be disabled at any time in the future.

Is the service subject to fees?

The service is subject to fees: fees are charged for the content delivered through the received messages, which are included as an indirect service in the invoice of the telecommunications service provider. Applicable fees are listed in the Rates supplement of the telecommunications service provider’s GTC. The service may be utilized from foreign countries for even higher fees, according to the roaming and international tariff plans. Some service providers offer their “invoiced” subscribers a line of credit, which can be used for premium rate services. The fee of the service may be paid in advance; in such cases, “card-based” subscribers will only subsequently pay for the fees exceeding their balance.

There are so-called traffic limits which define the ceiling of the utilization. When reaching this point, the service provider may limit the service and tie its further utilization to the payment of the fees of the generated traffic. Service providers may define traffic limits in the GTC, which may only be increased through a lasting subscription legal relationship. Telecommunications service providers must provide information on such matters upon contracting.

How can high invoices be avoided?

In order to avoid any unforeseen surprises, it is recommended to carefully read and examine the stipulations of the GTC on the utilization of the service. It is expedient to thoroughly study the text messages received upon registration and cancellation, since they may include important information in this regards.

How can invoice complaints be validated?

Subscribers may contest the fees charged for the content services: they may file a complaint through the service provider if they feel the invoiced amount is unreasonably high. If the subscriber fails to pay the content service fee, yet settles the additional fees (for the telecommunications services), the telecommunications service provider is not entitled to limit the telecommunications services until the invoice complaint is resolved.

In certain instances, subscribers may receive premium rate text messages even though the default disabled service was not enabled, or despite enabling said services, they failed to receive the ordered content – yet the service provider still invoiced the fees. Since the release of the limitation is a simple process, it may also take place “accidentally” or non-intentionally or may take place unbeknownst to the subscriber by a person with access to the device. Upon the request of the subscriber, the service provider is obliged to provide information on the data and circumstances of the release of the limitation.

If the complaint is rightful and justified, it must be appropriately settled by the service provider. The service provider is not obliged to disregard any fees merely because to the belief and best knowledge of the subscriber their device was not suitable for receiving the content in question. If no acceptable solution can be found for settling the complaint, the subscriber may request the settlement of the disputed fees by a court of law.