17 October 2007 - The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has today issued a code of practice for companies providing premium rate services over the public telecoms network, and their billing operators. This move, which promotes responsible business practices, will also give firms more certainty on how they should operate.
Singapore, 17 October 2007 | For Immediate Release
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has today issued a code of practice for companies providing premium rate services over the public telecoms network, and their billing operators. This move, which promotes responsible business practices, will also give firms more certainty on how they should operate. Consumers will in turn have greater peace of mind and confidence when purchasing chargeable premium rate services such as mobile phone wallpapers, ringtones and news alerts.
For instance, with the new Code, premium rate service providers will have to indicate the cost of all chargeable SMSes sent, within the message itself. They will also need to send non-chargeable messages to consumers, to confirm their service subscriptions, and follow-up with regular reminders on charges. Hence, consumers will always be on top of costs they have incurred.
Prior to the Code, premium rate service providers have also called for clearer guidelines on their operating environment. The Code comes after a public consultation in May this year and careful consideration of all 15 industry submissions that were made.
IDA Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms) Mr Leong Keng Thai said, "Many in the premium rate services industry already have good business practice in order to keep customers. The new Code formalises these practices so that all businesses have increased clarity on acceptable conduct, and consumers have greater protection. By enhancing consumers' confidence in using premium rate services, service providers benefit too because it will help to attract more users and the industry can continue to grow."
Key Features of the Code of Practice for the Provision of Premium Rate Services
With the Code, premium rate service providers must:
- Indicate the cost of all chargeable electronic messages sent to consumers in a clear manner within the message itself.
- Send regular, non-chargeable reminders to consumers on costs of subscription-based services. These include services that are automatically renewed after a specified period, or services that are ongoing until the consumer requests to terminate the service.
- Maintain a customer service hotline, at least during local business hours, so that consumers can contact them easily for queries regarding services and charges.
Network operators who bill consumers on behalf of the premium rate service providers must also:
- Provide assistance to consumers in dispute over charges, and ensure that the bill contains the names of the premium rate service, the charges incurred, as well as the customer service hotline for that service so that consumers know who to call.
- Not demand payment for any service that is being disputed and pending resolution between the consumer and the premium rate service provider.
The new Code complements the existing Telecoms Competition Code, which already sets out obligations for all telecoms licensees. The new Code is tailored towards premium rate service providers who are becoming an increasingly prominent community in the telecoms services ecosystem. The Code will take effect from 16 December 2007, and premium rate service providers and their billing operators will have to abide by it, in addition to existing licensing requirements and the Telecoms Competition Code. Premium rate service providers who flout the regulations may face financial penalties of up to S$1 million and/or licence suspension.
While the Code safeguards consumers' interest, consumers should also continue to be mindful of the services they subscribe to, and to read carefully the service terms and conditions before subscribing to any service. Parents are encouraged to educate their children to do the same, to prevent misuse of premium rate services.
More details on IDA's Code of Practice for the Provision of Premium Rate Services can be found at IDA's website, in the sections "Policies and Regulation - Codes of Practice and Guidelines", and "Policies and Regulation - Consultation Papers & Decisions".
ISSUED BY CORPORATE & MARKETING COMMUNICATION DIVISION
INFOCOMM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE
About Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is committed to growing Singapore into a dynamic global infocomm hub. IDA uses an integrated approach to developing infocommunications in Singapore. This involves nurturing a competitive telecoms market as well as a conducive business environment with programmes and schemes for both local and international companies. For more news and information, visit https://www.imda.gov.sg/.
For media clarification, please contact:
Angeline TAN (Ms)
Assistant Manager, Corporate and Marketing Communication
Tel: +65 6211 0640
Fax: +65 6211 2227